It is one of the most famous lines in film history: “The name’s Bond. James Bond.” But had the British secret agent’s creator Ian Fleming had his way, things might have turned out differently.
An extract from a 1952 draft of the first Bond novel, Casino Royale, made public this past weekend to coincide with the book’s 60th anniversary, revealed that the novelist had another name in mind for his most famous creation. “Ian’s first idea was to give James Bond an assumed name as his cover,” niece Kate Grimond told the Sunday Times of London (Grimond’s family owns the draft).
The idea, apparently, was that while the character would still be named Bond, he’d use a different handle in the field. And so when a CIA operative introduced himself to 007 at the Hotel Splendide casino – “My name’s Felix Leiter. Glad to meet you” – Bond’s original response was, “Mine’s Secretan. James Secretan.” The word “Secretan” was subsequently scrawled out in blue ink, and “Bond” became the replacement. Grimond said that, “Ian must have realised it would cause confusion if he had Bond known as Bond to friends and the security services in London, but as Secretan for his cover name to strangers or people he didn’t want to know he was a spy.”
She also thinks that the name might been inspired by the 19th century Swiss philosopher Charles Secrétan. “I’ve no proof but I do know Ian was interested in philosophy,” she said.
It wasn’t the only thing Fleming ended up changing before the book was published (at an on-sale price that he thought was too low, according to a newly released letter). In the earlier version, Miss Moneypenny was originally going to be named Miss Pettavel.