James Bond: How Ian Fleming ‘killed off’ 007 but then undid his death like Sherlock Holmes

David Amess: MP references James Bond in Commons tribute

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In 1957, Ian Fleming published his fifth James Bond novel in From Russia, with Love. The work was also serialised for the Daily Express in an abridged format before becoming a comic strip and President John F Kennedy even listed it in his Top 10 favourite books. The story may be better known today for being Sean Connery’s second 007 movie back in 1963, but the original storyline almost saw the MI6 spy killed off.

Fleming ended From Russia, with Love with a cliffhanger. SMERSH’s Rosa Klebb was captured, but she managed to kill Bond with a poisoned blade hidden in her shoe.

The novel simply ended with Bond gasping for breath as he fell to the ground, his fate not quite known.

Express.co.uk spoke with Mark Edlitz, author of The Many Lives of James Bond, who said that Fleming may have supported the idea of having 007 die in a movie.

He said: “Fleming toyed with the idea of killing off Bond in his fifth novel From Russia With Love.”

Edlitz continued: “Of course, in the movie, Bond defeats Rosa Klebb in the end. But in the novel, 007 is not as lucky.

“In the last passage of the book, Bond falls to the floor; presumably dead. You see, Fleming thought that he might have written all that he wanted to about Bond’s exploits.

“So the novel ends with 007’s apparent death. But Fleming had a change of heart and additional novels followed. Similarly, we will see more of Bond’s adventures on the big screen, where he belongs.”

A year later his sixth Bond novel in Dr No was published, opening with 007 recovering from Klebb’s poisoning and being sent to report to M.

Interestingly, a similar thing happened when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle actually did kill off Sherlock Holmes.

In his 1893 short story The Final Problem, Doyle had the detective fighting his archenemy Moriarty on a cliff edge before both seemingly fell to their deaths.

The story concluded with Dr Watson saying that Holmes was the best and wisest man he’d ever known in his life.

However, the reactions from readers was unlike anything ever seen for a fictional character before.

Eventually, pressure from fans saw Doyle revive Holmes by writing the prequel The Hound of the Baskervilles in 1902.

Then, a year later, the author revived his detective in a short story set after The Final Problem called The Adventure of the Empty House.

Holmes’ supposed death and resurrection were adapted into Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock TV series. He supposedly fell to his death from a rooftop in the episode The Reichenbach Fall before returning in The Empty Hearse.

Similarly, Robert Downey Jr’s take on the detective somehow survived his fall from the cliff edge with Moriarty in the film Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows – but could the same be done for Bond?

The Many Lives of James Bond: How the Creators of 007 Have Decoded the Superspy by Mark Edlitz is out now

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