Literary ‘Talk of the Devil’

endpapercrestTalk of the Devil is a collection of rarely-seen journalism and other writing by Ian Fleming. It belongs to a special edition of his complete works published in 2008 by Queen Anne Press to commemorate the centenary of his birth.

The edition is intended to celebrate Fleming not only as the creator of Bond but as an accomplished and vivid journalist, distinguished bibliophile and literary publisher. No uniform edition of Fleming’s complete works has appeared before. Talk of the Devil, the last of eighteen volumes, is edited by his niece Kate Grimond and nephew Fergus Fleming.

At more than 400 pages Talk of the Devil is the longest work ever to bear Ian Fleming’s name. Its contents are divided into six sections:

  • Two Stories
  • On World War Two
  • On Crime and Espionage
  • On Writing
  • On Travel and Treasure
  • On Other Matters

Ian’s nephew, Fergus writes:

talk-of-the-devil-flemingTalk of the Devil is a collection of rarely seen material, some of it unpublished. The contents are mainly journalistic but they also include two short stories. One of them, A Poor Man Escapes, is Ian’s earliest known attempt at fiction. The other, The Shameful Dream, was written in 1951 and has as its hero a journalist named Bone – a year and a letter-change later the hero would be Bond. The book is restricted currently to the Centenary Edition but it will be available as a single volume sometime in the future.

In preparing this volume our goal has not been to assemble every overlooked scrap of Ian Fleming’s writing, far less to make a definitive collection of his journalism. Instead we have tried to create a book that does justice to its author. The contents have been selected for their rarity, their historical and biographical value and the glimpses they give of his opinions and enthusiasms. Our overriding policy has been that they should be of interest and entertainment.

The complete works of Ian Fleming by Queen Anne Press

The complete works of Ian Fleming by Queen Anne Press


A few items have never been published, others have already appeared in print – as, for example, the articles that Ian Fleming wrote during his long association with the Sunday Times. In the latter case we have followed the original typescript rather than the published version, and where good lines were edited out we have put them back in.

Also appearing is a Spectator article that also appeared in Henry A. Zeiger’s 1966 biography of Ian Fleming: The Spy Who Came in with the Gold, entitled How To Make A Martini

The title is taken from a notebook in which Fleming listed names and phrases that caught his fancy. Talk of the Devil, was also an early title contender for Diamonds Are Forever.

In “Six Questions,” 1961, Ian Fleming predicts the following:

“Life will become more comfortable and much duller and basically uglier, though people will be healthier and live longer. Boredom with and distaste for this kind of broiler existence may attract an atomic disaster of one sort or another, and then some of us will start again in caves, and life on this planet will become an adventure again.”

Fleming also pays tribute to contemporary writers such as Graham Greene, Noel Coward and includes such gems as 1959’s If I Were Prime Minister, Treasure Hunt in Eden and My Friend the Octopus. The volume concludes with an extract taken from an interview with Fleming in February 1964:

“One can only be grateful to the talent that came out of the air, and to one’s capacity for hard, concentrated effort…. I don’t want yachts, race-horses or a Rolls Royce. I want my family and my friends and good health and to have a small treadmill with a temperature of 80 degrees in the shade and in the sea to come to every year for two months. And to be able to work there and look at the flowers and fish, and somehow to give pleasure, whether innocent or illicit, to people in their millions. Well you can’t ask for more.”

Photo by Simon Stanmore (

Photo by Simon Stanmore (

Other notable entries pre-dating Bond include an eye-witness account of the 1942 Dieppe Raid; Fleming’s “Memorandum to Colonel Donovan” which laid down administrative practice for the Office of Strategic Studies (O.S.S.), predecessor to the C.I.A.; his contribution as Foreign Editor to the Kemsley Manual of Journalism; and a description of Jamaica in 1947.

Jon Gilbert, author of the ‘Ian Fleming: The Bibliography remarks:

“I was fortunate to read it in proof-form and thought it was an excellent collection, demonstrating the variety in Fleming’s writing. I was familiar with some of the content but it was nice to be able to access the material in a single volume. I hope the book will be published separately at some stage, but there has been no official word as yet.”

Incidental Intelligence

clothsetBuy ‘Talk of the Devil‘ from The Queen Anne Press

Buy ‘Ian Fleming: The Bibliography

3 thoughts on “Literary ‘Talk of the Devil’

  1. Pingback: Field Report: Simon J. Patterson, Rare Bookseller | Artistic License Renewed

  2. Pingback: 007 Ways to Buy James Bond 1st Editions | Artistic License Renewed

  3. Zeiger does not include a Spectator article on ‘How to Make a Martini’ (as I’ve been through it page-by-page to check) and there’s no reference to it in Campbell’s 1978 bibliographical appendix of Fleming’s Spectator articles.

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