No One Knows Who Wrote This James Bond Novel

When Ian Fleming died of a heart attack at the age of 56 in 1964, he had completed 12 full-length novels and a number of short stories featuring his marquee superspy James Bond. The author had also lived to see two wildly successful film adaptations of his work—Dr. No and From Russia with Love—make Bond an international phenomenon, with a third (Goldfinger) released just a month after his death.

While the Bond movies were expected to continue indefinitely, no one at Glidrose Productions—the company Fleming had purchased to handle the literary rights to his creation for business purposes—was exactly sure how to proceed with his adventures on the printed page. Only one proper novel, 1968’s Colonel Sun by Kingsley Amis, was released in the years immediately following Fleming’s death. It seemed too monumental a task to follow a writer who was virtually as famous as Bond himself.

Glidrose, however, had an alternative: In 1966, they commissioned a novel that would be centered around Bond’s nephew, a boy of boarding school age who would become embroiled in a plot to steal gold. Jonathan Cape, the publishing house that had acquired Fleming’s first book, Casino Royale, would distribute it.

003½: The Adventures of James Bond Junior was in every way an “official” Bond title, but no one would ever step forward to claim credit for it, even after one critic declared it a “far better” effort than Fleming’s own. Glidrose attributed the work to the pen name "R. D. Mascott" and swore its employees to secrecy, rebuffing every attempt to uncover his identity.

For Bond fans, what started as a passing bit of trivia grew into a literary forensics cold case. Who was Mascott, and why were people so committed to keeping his secret?

There was little doubt the Bond movie franchise would outlive Fleming. By 1966, four films starring Sean Connery had been produced, with a fifth—You Only Live Twice—in production. EON, the company with the screen rights to the character, began flirting with ideas for a televised spin-off series, including one featuring a juvenile version of the spy.

At the same time, Glidrose was preparing for life after Fleming produced his last typewritten page. Geoffrey Jenkins was commissioned to write a Bond novel set in South Africa: it was rejected. Afterward, author and Bond admirer Kingsley Amis agreed to write a follow-up novel under the pseudonym “Richard Markham,” which was intended to be a catch-all name for future writers. At roughly the same time, the company commissioned a work-for-hire assignment that may have been tied to EON’s announced plans for a “young Bond” iteration. When 003½ was released in October 1967, ads promised that it would feature material to be used for “a series of television films.”

The “Junior” in the title is somewhat misleading, as the character in the book was the son of David Bond, brother of James. As a teenager returning home from boarding school, James Jr. stumbles across a gang of gold robbers and works to expose them. His famous uncle is off on more important business, sending a letter to his nephew with the gift of a tactical knife. In the end, the budding young spy’s intelligence work is credited to adults who proved worthless in the investigation.

The book was published in the UK and in the U.S., where Random House made note of the fact that Mascott was a pseudonym for a “well-known” British author. Because it didn’t hold any substantial appeal for readers of Bond’s more mature adventures, and because children didn’t seem to take to a neutered version of a mercenary character already popular in toys and board games, 003½ slipped into relative obscurity.

When Glidrose published Colonel Sun just a few months later, it wasn’t long before Amis admitted to being the author behind the Markham pseudonym. No one, however, declared credit for the Bond novel that preceded it. As Bond’s fan base grew, with every bit of arcane trivia chased down for accuracy, it became a glaring omission in the canon. 

Suspicion was first directed at Amis, since he had proven a willingness to fill Fleming’s shoes. Their writing styles were dissimilar, however. Roald Dahl also became a suspect: the author doubled as a screenwriter and was working on the 1967 Bond film, You Only Live Twice, at the time, putting him in proximity to the Bond rights holders. Both Dahl and Mascott had described the “currants” of the eyes, a peculiar term, and dwelled on topics like hunting and shoplifting. Dahl, who died in 1990, never corroborated the theory, and his estate was unable to unearth any documentation that could prove it. 

In 2001, the fan site ran a highly detailed dissection of the case. (Fittingly, it didn’t include a byline.) After examining the Dahl and Amis theories and dismissing the notion that a Fleming relative was responsible, it zeroed in on naming novelist Arthur Calder-Marshall as the perpetrator.

Calder-Marshall had written several books (The Scarlet Boy, The Fair to Middling) while trying his hand in Hollywood during the 1930s. He was also a colleague of Graham Carleton Greene, who was running Jonathan Cape publishing at the time. The author of the theory made some rather tenuous connections, including both Calder-Marshall and Mascott using “ha, ha!” liberally in prose and being partial to the phrase “furious barking.”

"There are also plot similarities," the site observed. "Scenes involving elderly housemaids—Mrs. Ambrose in The Scarlet Boy, and Mrs. Raggles in James Bond Junior—are fairly similar. Both books hinge on purchasing a nearby house and the strange goings-on there. Both books feature a troubled female child who draws, and moreover, what she draws is a crucial plot point that resolves each story's central mystery. Both books feature scenes between children high up in trees; and in both books, the troubled girls' puppies are killed."

The site’s attempts to shake confirmation out of EON, Glidrose, or Jonathan Cape, however, proved futile. If Calder-Marshall was the author, no one was talking.

"I don't quite see why this matter would be of interest around the release of Spectre." That's courtesy of Ian Fleming Publications (formerly Glidrose) managing director Corrine Turner, who artfully dodged the Mascott question posed to her by mental_floss. "If you are looking for a story that has a link to the film, you might take a look at the article about Colonel Sun by Kingsley Amis ..."

Why is there such a commitment to preserve the Mascott alias for what amounted to a fairly inconsequential footnote in the Bond franchise? 003½ produced nothing beyond a spurt of James Bond Junior toys and a cartoon series in 1991, otherwise exhibiting no relevance to the future of the character. (Young Bond, a series by author Charlie Higson that began in 2005, bore no relation to the Mascott novel.) 

It’s possible the author was apprehensive about following in Fleming’s footsteps and had a contractual guarantee that he or she would remain anonymous. (Anne Fleming, Ian's widow, had harsh words for Amis when he wrote Colonel Sun.) Another fan theory put forward the notion that Harry Saltzman, a producer with EON who would go on to have a contentious relationship with EON’s Albert Broccoli, was planting the seeds for a young Bond franchise he could call his own.  

Calder-Marshall, who died in 1992, never mentioned the title, though it’s possible he was never asked about it. Oddly, his actress daughter, Anna, got her big break in 1969 when she starred opposite Sean Connery in a televised play, Male of the Species. In 1971, she also co-starred with future Bond Timothy Dalton in an adaptation of Wuthering Heights.             

003½ persists as a curious footnote in the Bond canon. Why the Fleming estate insists on keeping the author’s identity a secret remains, like most everything else in the spy’s dossier, classified information.

10 Fascinating Facts About The Scarlet Letter

These days, we tend to think about The Scarlet Letter in relation to high school students struggling with their English papers, but we didn’t always see the book that way. When Nathaniel Hawthorne published the novel on March 16, 1850, it was a juicy bestseller about an adulterous woman forced to wear a scarlet ‘A’ on her chest by a community steeped in religious hypocrisy. Here are 10 things you might not have known about the classic tome.


Hawthorne, who was born in Salem, Massachusetts, was aware of his messy Puritan heritage. His great-great-grandfather William Hathorne came to Salem in 1636. As the Massachusetts Bay delegate, he tried to rid the town of Quakers by having them whipped and dragged through the street half naked. His son, John Hathorne, was even worse. As a magistrate during the Salem witch trials of 1692, he examined more than one hundred accused witches, and found them all guilty. Hawthorne detested this legacy and distanced himself from his ancestors by adding the “W” to the spelling of his name.


Unable to support his family by publishing short stories, Hawthorne took a politically appointed post at the Salem Custom House in 1846. Three years later, he was fired because of a political shakeup. The loss of his job, as well as the death of his mother, depressed Hawthorne, but he was also furious at Salem. "I detest this town so much that I hate to go out into the streets, or to have people see me,” he said.

It was in this mood that he started The Scarlet Letter.


In 1846, Hawthorne's sister-in-law Elizabeth Peabody published the work of Hungarian linguist Charles Kraitsir. Two years later, it was discovered that Kraitsir’s wife had seduced several of his students at the University of Virginia. He left his wife and daughter in Philadelphia and fled to Peabody for help. Peabody responded by going to Philadelphia in an attempt to gain guardianship of the daughter. This didn’t go over so well with the wife. She followed Peabody back to Boston and confronted her husband. In response, Peabody and Kraitsir tried to get her committed to a lunatic asylum. The press got wind of the story and Kraitsir was skewered for looking weak and hiding behind Peabody’s skirts. Hawthorne watched as the scandal surrounding a woman’s affairs played out on the public stage, right as he was starting The Scarlet Letter.


Hawthorne must have known there was historical precedence for The Scarlet Letter. According to a 1658 law in Plymouth, people caught in adultery were whipped and forced “to weare two Capitall letters namely A D cut out in cloth and sowed on theire vpermost Garments on theire arme or backe.” If they ever took the letters off, they would be publicly whipped again. A similar law was enacted in Salem.

In the town of York (now in Maine) in 1651, near where Hawthorne’s family owned property, a woman named Mary Batchellor was whipped 40 lashes for adultery and forced to wear an ‘A’ on her clothes. She was married to Stephen Batchellor, a minister over 80 years old. Sound familiar?


In an 1871 issue of The Atlantic Monthly, editor James T. Fields wrote about being Hawthorne’s champion. Not only did he try to get Hawthorne reinstated in his Custom House post, Fields said he convinced Hawthorne to write The Scarlet Letter as a novel. One day, while trying to encourage the despondent writer ("'Who would risk publishing a book for me, the most unpopular writer in America?' 'I would,' said I"), Fields noticed Hawthorne’s bureau. He said he bet Hawthorne had already written something new and that it was in one of the drawers. Hawthorne, flabbergasted, pulled out a manuscript. “How in Heaven's name did you know this thing was there?” he said. He gave Fields the “germ” of The Scarlet Letter. Fields then persuaded Hawthorne to alter “the plan of that story” and write a full-sized book. The rest is history.

Or is it? Hawthorne’s wife Sophia said of Fields’s claims: “He has made the absurd boast that he was the sole cause of the Scarlet Letter being published!" She added that Edwin Percy Whipple was the one who encouraged Hawthorne.


Hester Prynne is a tall, dignified character who endures her outcast status with grace and strength. Although she has fallen to a low place as an adulteress with an illegitimate child, she becomes a successful seamstress and raises her daughter even though the authorities want to take the child away. As such, she’s a complex character who embodies what happens when a woman breaks societal rules. Hawthorne not only knew accomplished women such as Peabody and Margaret Fuller, he was writing The Scarlet Letter directly after the first women's rights convention in New York in 1848. He was one of the first American writers to depict “women’s rights, women’s work, women in relation to men, and social change,” according to biographer Brenda Wineapple.


As you probably know, Hawthorne hits you in the head with symbolism throughout The Scarlet Letter, starting with the characters’ names—Pearl for an unwanted child, Roger Chillingworth for a twisted, cold man, Arthur Dimmesdale for a man whose education cannot lead him to truth. From the wild woods to the rosebush by the jail to the embroidered ‘A’ itself, it’s easy to see why The Scarlet Letter is the book that launched a thousand literary essays.


In the 87,000-plus words that make up The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne used “ignominy” 16 times, “ignominious” seven times, and “ignominiously” once. He apparently had affection for the word, which means dishonor, infamy, disgrace, or shame. Either that, or he needed a thesaurus.


While the reviews were generally positive, others condemned The Scarlet Letter as smut. For example, this 1851 review by Reverend Arthur Cleveland Coxe: “Why has our author selected such a theme? … Is it, in short, because a running underside of filth has become as requisite to a romance, as death in the fifth act to a tragedy? Is the French era actually begun in our literature? … we honestly believe that "the Scarlet Letter" has already done not a little to degrade our literature, and to encourage social licentiousness.” This kind of rhetoric didn’t hurt sales. In fact, The Scarlet Letter’s initial print run of 2500 books sold out in 10 days.


The Scarlet Letter made Hawthorne a well-known writer, allowed him to purchase a home in Concord, and insured an audience for books like The House of Seven Gables. However, The Scarlet Letter didn’t make Hawthorne rich. Despite its success in the U.S. and abroad, royalties weren’t that great—overseas editions paid less than a penny per copy. Hawthorne only made $1500 from the book over the remaining 14 years of his life. He was never able to escape the money troubles that plagued him.

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Pop Culture
Is the True Identity of Voldemort's Pet Snake Hidden in the New Fantastic Beasts Trailer?
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In the Harry Potter series, many of Voldemort's horcruxes were give rich backstories, like Tom Riddle's diary, Marvolo Gaunt's ring, and of course, Harry himself. But the most personal horcrux containing a fragment of Voldemort's soul is also the biggest mystery. Voldemort carries Nagini the snake with him wherever he goes, but we still don't know how the two met or where Nagini came from. Fans may not have to wait much longer to find out: One fan theory laid out by Vanity Fair suggests that Nagini is actually a cursed witch, and her true identity will be revealed in the next Fantastic Beasts movie.

On March 13, the trailer dropped for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the second installment in the Harry Potter prequel series written by J.K. Rowling. The clips include lots of goodies for fans—including a first look at Jude Law as young Dumbledore—but one potential bombshell requires closer examination.

Pay attention at the 1:07 mark in the video below and you'll see Claudia Kim, the actress playing a new, unnamed character in the film. While we don't know much about her yet, Pottermore tells us that she is a Maledictus or “someone who suffers from a ‘blood curse’ that turns them into a beast.” This revelation led some fans to suspect the beast she transforms into is Nagini, the snake destined to be Voldemort's companion.

That isn't the only clue backing up the theory. The second piece of evidence comes in the trailer at the 1:17 mark: There, you can see an advertisement for a "wizarding circus," featuring a poster of a woman resembling Kim constricted a by massive snake.

If Kim's character does turn out to be Nagini, the theory still doesn't explain how she eventually joins forces with Voldemort and becomes his horcrux. Fans will have to wait until the film's release on November 16, 2018 for answers. Fortunately, there are plenty of other Harry Potter fan theories to study up on in the meantime.

[h/t Vanity Fair]


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