The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Caught: Bond with lady’s gun

London, Sept. 6: James Bond’s weapons epitomised his brand of cool, deadly professionalism but soon after Ian Fleming’s super spy appeared there were accusations that he was carrying “a lady’s gun”.

The criticism came from Geoffrey Boothroyd, a gun expert, and Fleming was so mortified that his hero might be equipped with the wrong weapon that he hired the Glaswegian as his firearms adviser and later introduced him as a character in the Bond books.

Boothroyd became the model for the eccentric and irascible weapons and gadgets expert Q, who was played by Desmond Llewelyn in most of the Bond films.

Now Fleming’s letters to Boothroyd, which reveal why 007 abandoned his original Beretta in favour of a Smith & Wesson and, more famously, his trademark Walther PPK, are to be auctioned.

The previously unknown archive, written between 1956 and 1963 and expected to fetch £15,000 to £20,000 at Bloomsbury Auctions in London on November 4, also shows that Fleming regarded himself as Bond’s biographer and referred to him as though he were a real person.

The correspondence, which is being sold by Boothroyd’s family following his death three years ago, began after he wrote to Fleming complaining that the Beretta used by Bond in the first book Casino Royale “is utterly useless as well as being a lady’s gun”.

Fleming replied in the first of the letters in the archive: “Bond has always admitted to me that the .25 Beretta was not a stopping gun and he places much more reliance on his accuracy with it than in any particular qualities of the gun itself.” Responding to Boothroyd’s suggestion that Bond would be better off using a more powerful Smith & Wesson, Fleming wrote: “As you know, one gets used to a gun and it may take some time for him to settle down with the Smith & Wesson.”

Fleming increasingly relied on Boothroyd’s firearms advice and told him that his own .38 Smith & Wesson would be used in a dustjacket illustration for his next book, From Russia, With Love.

When the book was published in 1957, Fleming sent Boothroyd a copy inscribed: “To Geoffrey Boothroyd. Herewith Appointed ‘Armourer’ to J. Bond.” The book is also being sold by Bloomsbury as is a first edition of the next Bond novel Dr No inscribed “To Geoffrey Boothroyd — alias ‘The Armourer’ from Ian Fleming”.

They are expected to fetch £4,000 to £5,000 each.

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