Q (Literary)

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Major Boothroyd is the British Secret Service armourer introduced in Ian Fleming's sixth James Bond novel, Dr. No. The character is the origin of the James Bond film character Q (standing for Quartermaster); the head of Q Branch, the fictional research and development division of the Service.

Novel biography

At the beginning of Dr. No, M calls Major Boothroyd the best armourer in the world. Q is called into M's office to present him and James Bond with alternatives to Bond's Beretta 418 pistol, whose stalled drawing time led to Bond's poisoning by Rosa Klebb at the end of From Russia with Love. He calls the Beretta a "ladies gun" and suggests other weapons such as the Tokarev TT-33 before finally settling on the Walther PPK, which is approved by M.

Behind the scenes

The origin of the Q character is rather complicated. In the Fleming novels there are frequent references to 'Q branch', a division of the British Secret Service which provides equipment to field operatives. There is a reference to Q in Chapter 3 of Casino Royale, the first Bond book, when M says to Bond: "Go over a few days before the big game starts and get your hand in. Have a talk to Q. about rooms and trains, and any equipment you want." There is a similar reference in the following novel, Live and Let Die. However, this appears to be an abbreviation for Q Branch rather than the codename for a particular individual.

In the sixth novel, Dr. No, the service armourer Q appears for the first time. Fleming named the character after Geoffrey Boothroyd, a firearms expert who lived in Glasgow, Scotland. He had written to the novelist suggesting that Bond was not using the best firearms available; criticizing in particular Bond's use of the Beretta 418 pistol. Grateful for the advice, Fleming phased out the Beretta and wrote the character of Boothroyd into the subsequent novel. Boothroyd is also referenced occasionally in the Bond novels of John Gardner, but the author preferred instead to focus on a new character, Q'ute.

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