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Kingsley Amis

Sir Kingsley William Amis (April 16, 1922 – October 22, 1995) was an English novelist, poet, critic, and teacher. He wrote more than twenty novels, three collections of poetry, short stories, radio and television scripts, and books of social and literary criticism. He was the father of the British novelist Martin Amis. He authored the James Bond novel Colonel Sun in 1968.

BiographyEdit

Kingsley Amis was born in London, educated at the City of London School and St. John's College, Oxford. After serving in the Royal Corps of Signals in the Second World War, Amis achieved popular success with his first novel Lucky Jim.

As a young man, Kingsley Amis was a vocal socialist and a member of the Communist Party. He broke away from Communism when the USSR invaded Hungary in 1956. Thereafter, Amis was stridently anti-communist. Amis's novel about a group of retired friends, The Old Devils, won the Booker Prize in 1986. He received a knighthood in 1990.

Amis was twice married, first in 1948 to Hilary Bardwell, then to novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard, in 1965; they divorced in 1983. He had three children, including the novelist Martin Amis.

James BondEdit

Kingsley Amis became associated with Ian Fleming's creation, James Bond, in the 1960s, writing critical works connected with the fictional spy, either under a pseudonym or uncredited. He wrote the popular The James Bond Dossier under his own name. Later, he wrote, The Book of Bond, or, Every Man His Own 007, a tongue-in-cheek how-to manual about being a sophisticated spy, under the pseudonym "Lt Col. William 'Bill' Tanner", Tanner being M's Chief of Staff in many of Fleming's Bond novels.

It is widely claimed that, after Fleming died in 1964 following completion of an early draft of The Man with the Golden Gun, the publisher commissioned Amis and possibly other writers to finish the manuscript. Bond historians and Fleming biographers have, in recent years, debunked this theory, indicating that no such ghostwriter was ever employed, although Amis is known to have provided suggestions on how to improve the manuscript which were rejected.

In 1968 the owners of the James Bond property, Glidrose Publications, attempted to continue the series by hiring different novelists, all writing under the pseudonym "Robert Markham". Kingsley Amis was the first to write a Robert Markham novel, Colonel Sun, but no further books were published under that name. It is widely believed that Amis had planned to write a second Bond novel but was talked out of it.

Amis had unhappily visited Mexico in January 1968. From this experience grew the idea for another Bond story. According to the New York Times Book Review, "Mr. Amis never moves about by air, and cultivated his own deficiencies - his phrase - he went from St. Louis to Mexico City by train. En route, he remembered that Bond loved trains (From Russia, with Love) and found himself plotting an assassination on a train. Then as his train moved on, there occurred the inevitable sentence, Bond had never liked Acapulco." [1] The plot would centre around tensions between British Honduras and Guatemala over rival claims to Mexico.[1] A syndicated Associated Press story also implied that Amis may kill Bond off for good. According to the article, a bazooka-wielding bartender would blast Bond on a train in Mexico.[2]

Amis was inconsistent if this would result in a novel or a short story. The 1970 Associated Press story claimed it would be Amis's next book. However, in a 1968 letter to Robert Conquest, Amis clearly states that it would only be a short story.

Colonel Sun was adapted as a James Bond comic strips in the Daily Express in 1969. In a Titan Books reprint volume of the comic strip published in 2005, an introductory chapter indicated that Amis planned to write a short story featuring an elderly Bond coming out of retirement for one last mission, but Glidrose refused him permission to write it.

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Nichols, Lewis. "American Notebook: Bond-Markham-Amis", 28 April 1968, p. 20. 
  2. "James Bond to Die", 24 October 1970, p. 3. 

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