Ian Flemings '13 Rules for life' notebook sells for $52,500

Ian Flemings ’13 Rules for life’ notebook sells for $52,500

Ian Fleming the beloved author of the James Bond spy novels’ 39-page notebook went up for auction over the weekend, selling far above the expected price.

Can’t imagine it crossed the author’s mind when he jotted down his ’13 rules for life’ in a 39-page notebook back in 1967, that it would one day be auctioned off fifty-five odd years later for $52,500. It was initially expected to fetch around $15,000 but went on to sell far above the expected bidding estimate. 

This particular notebook was an invaluable tool for Fleming, which he used while writing his last novel You Only Live Twice. Full of the author’s scrawly handwriting, the notebook offers up a rare glimpse into Fleming’s thoughts and writing process and gives some simple, albeit a little outdated, pearls of wisdom with which he infused the character of James Bond with his ’13 rules for living well’. 

bond notebook auction

Rule 1. Dont draw your gun unless you can see both the other man’s hands.

Rule 2. Don’t waste your time on women that wear a bracelet on their left ankle.

Rule 3. Beware of motorcars with 2 women in the front seat.

Rule 4. Dont play cards against married couple unless they are drunk.

Rule 5. See the brand name on the bottle.

Rule 6. Avoid people that call you old boy and all politicians.

Rule 7. Never eat scrambled eggs unless you make them yourself.

Rule 8. Talk secrets only in the open air.

Rule 9. Dont buy anything that eats.

Rule 10. Beware people who smell and tread carefully in the company of mustaches, sideburns, and beards.

Rule 11. Have nothing to do with correspondence in colored ink, particularly when variegated.

Rule 12. Cut down on your drink when your eyes get red and on your smoking when your breath gets short. don’t worry about citrosis of the liver or cancer.

But it’s number 13 that perhaps holds the sagest advice of all.

Rule 13. Live until your dead.

bond notebook
Credit: Heritage Auctions

The notebook contains among the pages, some iconic 007 lines from his novels, predominantly notes for his last novel, You Only Live Twice which he wrote in 1967.

Other notes in the book reveal some of Fleming’s iconic 007 lines, including: ‘You only live twice. Once when you are born and once when you are about to die.’

In the final epigraph in Fleming’s novel, he adapted this and wrote: ‘You only live twice: Once when you’re born, and once when you look death in the face’. 

ian fleming notebook
Credit: Heritage Auctions

Joe Maddalena of Heritage Auctions shared in a statement: ‘James Bond has become such an icon in literature and film and pop culture that we take the character and his creation for granted.

‘But these handwritten documents straight from his creator provide us with an insight and a perspective that often make 007 seem brand new. We’re allowed into the creative process. We’re over his shoulder as Bond is born.’

You Only Live Twice, published in 1964, was the last novel Fleming wrote.