(1926 - 2007)
 “Real experience is a very useful tool that lends itself to the writer of these kind of books”

John Edmund Gardner is known for writing accomplished hardboiled spy thrillers and for the continuation novels of James Bond, but before he started writing he was variously a pilot in the Fleet Air Arm, a Royal Marine commando, an Anglican priest, a stage magician and a journalist.  By the time he was in his 30s he was also a confirmed alcoholic – and as part of his sobriety therapy he wrote Spin the Bottle, a memoir about his relationship with alcohol (1963), the success of which launched his writing career.

During the 1960s and 70s Gardner wrote a number of serial espionage novels which led, in 1981, to Glidrose, the copyright holders of Ian Fleming's James Bond books, inviting him to revive Bond in a series of  new adventures.  He was initially unsure of the wisdom of this, as he thought "Fans know how [Bond] cuts his fingernails, so the writer is a target for nitpickers. Mr. Fleming is a very difficult act to follow”. However  Gardner finally agreed if he was allowed to modernise Bond and bring him into the 1980s -  “Most of all I wanted him to have operational know-how : the reality of correct tradecraft and modern gee-whiz technology”. The result was Licence Renewed (1981).  The NYT wrote of this reborn James Bond “In Mr Gardner’s hands, Bond is every inch a late-20th-century man.  He smokes low-tar cigarettes … and, in an authorial choice that anguished 007 purists, drives a fuel-efficient Saab instead of his Bentley Mark II Continental.” During his tenure as Bond writer, Gardner produced 16 titles before Glidrose passed the authorial baton onto Raymond Benson.

Gardner retired from writing Bond books in 1996, but continued producing accomplished thrillers until his death in 2007.  However, although he was a consummate thriller writer, producing more than fifty novels in the genre, his lasting claim to fame is undoubtedly his James Bond books.

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