Who now owns the rights to the Bond novels and what can you tell me about them?

In either late 1996 or early 1997 Ian Fleming`s nieces Kate and Lucy bought controlling interest in Glidrose from Booker McConnell.

Back in March 1964, Ian Fleming sold 51% of Glidrose to his golfing friend the late Lord Jock Campbell (a socialist, Campbell was also a patron of literature; England`s most famous literary prize is named after his company – Kingsley Amis won the Booker in 1986). Fleming did this to minimize his “supertax” losses.

Kate and Lucy Fleming`s father was Ian`s brother Peter Fleming (1907-1971); their mother was actress Celia Johnson (1908-1982), best known for her Academy Award nominated performance in David Lean`s film “Brief Encounter” (co-written by the Fleming family friend Noel Coward).

Kate Grimond (nee Fleming) was born May 24th, 1946. Her father once wrote about her: “Kate, 11, tall and rather beautiful”. She studied Russian at Oxford (St Anne`s House) and travelled with her father during his trip to the Caucasus during the summer of 1966, where her Russian came in handy. She was an assistant to Alan Ross on his “London Magazine” (Ross was friends with Ian and Ann Fleming; he appears in “The Man With The Golden Gun” as Commander Ross), and was also Martin Gilbert`s researcher on his official biography of Winston Churchill.

In 1973 she married the journalist John (“Johnnie”) Grimond, who is now foreign editor of the British magazine “Economist”; they have three children. She has written at least two books [and writes well – NK]: the first, “The Churchills” (pub 1975), is a history of the famous family. Also, “Celia Johnson” (pub 1991), a biography of her actress mother.

Lucy Williams (nee Fleming) was born May 15th, 1947. Her father remarked that by age 10, she was a “good horsewoman”, and by age 14, a “keen and talented shot”: “She began by hitting a woodock and a driven cock pheasant – never having handled a shotgun before – the first time I took her out, and went on to shoot consistently well. I suppose I enjoyed her prowess and her companionship as much as I have enjoyed anything in the way of shooting.”

However, Lucy Fleming followed in her mother`s footsteps and became an actress – she had wanted to be one ever since she saw her mother perform in the Robert Bolt play “The Flowering Cherry”. She began with the Farnham repertory company and subsequently went on to the Royal Court Theatre. She even appeared with her mother in several productions including a revival of the Noel Coward play “Hay Fever”, and the 1968 BBC production (co-starring Charles Gray; Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the Bond film “Diamonds Are Forever”).

She married Joe Laycock (son of Major-General Sir Robert Laycock, an old Peter Fleming friend) in 1971 and they had several children. After a family tragedy in the early 1980s, she married actor Simon Williams (who played the role of Nigel Pennington-Smythe in the 1983 tv movie “The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.”). Lucy Fleming`s step-children Tam and Amy Williams are also actors.These are his screen credits:


Kate Fleming once wrote that “Lucy and I […] were on the wild side; Lucy was a tomboy and was always at the top of a tree or racing about on a pony. I was very shy and shot upstairs whenever anyone visited the house. Neither of us would put on a dress if we could possibly help it. Our manners left a lot to be desired.” Moreover their childhood home, “Merrimoles”, was intentionally overrun by many unorthodox pets: labradors, a poodle, a cat, ponies, at least one horse, owls, a dormouse, two fox cubs, a raven and a grey squirrel named “Nutto”.

Peter Fleming wrote the following in his diary: “Woken early by the patter of tiny feet. Yaks, if stampeded, would make more noise, but not much more noise, than Kate (three) and Lucy (two), who constitute a knockabout turn known to our guests as the Reveille Girls.” [He goes on to say about his dogs, “Wonder what Pavlov would have made of Toby and Trigger, who never budge from the bed in my dressing-room until I start brushing my hair. Have tried going downstairs without brushing my hair. Sticklers for protocol, they stayed where they were.” He also left his family the following arrangements for his own funeral: “If there is a memorial service, I would like it to be at the Guards Chapel; the parking facilities are unrivalled.” His final instruction was, “No mourning.”] However, after they were sent off to Cranborne Chase school in Dorset (Kate in 1959, Lucy in 1960), Peter Fleming remarked that “the patter of your tiny feet is sadly missed.”

Though not part of the Fleming family, Peter Janson-Smith is responsible for day-to-day administration at Glidrose. He originally handled Eric Ambler`s foreign sales at Curtis Brown. Ambler helped set him up as an agent, and Janson-Smith`s agency was established in September 1956. Within a month, he had sold the Dutch rights to Fleming`s first four novels. Janson-Smith began handling Fleming`s serialization rights in the early sixties and was appointed to the Glidrose board of directors in 1964. In 1966, he argued successfully in favour of reprinting “The Spy Who Loved Me”, which had been pulled from distribution.

Janson-Smith`s other clients included Gavin Maxwell, Northcote Parkinson, and briefly Anthony Burgess (“A Clockwork Orange”) and Shena Mackey. His lady friend Lily Pohlmann is the widow of Eric Pohlmann, the actor who “voiced” the part of Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the Bond film “From Russia With Love”. Patrick Janson-Smith, an executive at “Transworld” publishing might be a relative (his son?)

Sources: “Peter Fleming” by Duff Hart-Davis; “Celia Johnson” by Kate Fleming; “Coastwise Lights” by Alan Ross; “You`ve Had Your Time” by Anthony Burgess; “Ian Fleming: The Man Behind The Mask” by Andrew Lycett

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