“The name’s Secretan… James Secretan.” It just doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, does it? But James Secretan is the alias author Ian Fleming originally intended his famous creation James Bond to use when under cover for secret missions.
In an extract from an unseen 1952 draft of the first 007 novel, Casino Royale – due to be released to coincide with the book’s 60th anniversary this weekend – Fleming’s alternative moniker is revealed to fans for the first time.
In a passage from the manuscript, a CIA agent introduces himself to the MI6 spy by announcing, “My name’s Felix Leiter. Glad to meet you,” to which Bond replies, “Mine’s Secretan. James Secretan.” “Secretan” was then crossed out by Fleming in blue ink to be replaced with the name “Bond”.
Fleming’s niece, Kate Grimond, shared her views on why her uncle changed his mind about the alias. “Ian must have realised it would cause confusion if he had Bond known as Bond to his 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.”
Grimond also suggested the name “Secretan” may have been inspired by 19th century Swiss philosopher Charles Secrétan. “I’ve no proof but I do know Ian was interested in philosophy. He also often chose names from people he knew or had heard of – sometimes an amalgam of more than one person,” she told The Sunday Times.
The soon-to-be-released draft also uncovers the original name for M’s secretary as “Miss Pettavel” or “Petty” for short, but Grimond explains, “Ian again had second thoughts and changed it to Miss Moneypenny”. Miss Pettavel is thought to hark back to Kathleen Pettigrew – personal assistant to MI6 director-general Stewart Menzies – on whom the character was based.
Some commentators have pointed out that a secret agent using his real name on missions would probably not remain secret for very long, but few fans would want to sacrifice the catchphrase “The name’s Bond. James Bond,” that has been uttered by every 007 actor, from Sean Connery to Daniel Craig.