James Bond books edited to remove racist, sexist language

Superspy James Bond has become the latest target of "sensitivity readers", with racist and sexist language set to be removed from the original novels.

The Ian Fleming spy series has come under review by Ian Fleming Publications Ltd, which owns the literary rights to his work, ahead of the 70th anniversary of the book series and their republication in April.

The company commissioned a review by sensitivity readers into the texts and was given a raft of recommendations to remove various phrases and sequences from the original series, reportedly including removal of the N-word.

It's not the first time the Bond series has been toned down for audiences.

Sex scenes from the series had been made tamer for wider audiences, and racial comments in Live and Let Die had been changed by the publisher, in accordance with Fleming's wishes.

"We at Ian Fleming Publications reviewed the text of the original Bond books and decided our best course of action was to follow Ian’s lead. We have made changes to Live and Let Die that he himself authorised," a statement said.

"Following Ian's approach, we looked at the instances of several racial terms across the books and removed a number of individual words or else swapped them for terms that are more accepted today but in keeping with the period in which the books were written.

"We encourage people to read the books for themselves when the new paperbacks are published in April."

The original books will now come with a warning printed inside them.

"This book was written at a time when terms and attitudes which might be considered offensive by modern readers were commonplace... a number of updates have been made in this edition, while keeping as close as possible to the original text and the period in which it is set," the Telegraph reported the warning would state.

The changes include the N-word being replaced with "black man" or "black person", according to the Telegraph.

However, the newspaper also reported "dated references to other ethnicities remain, such as Bond's racial terms for east Asian people and the spy's disparaging views of Oddjob, Goldfinger's Korean henchman".

"References to the 'sweet tang of rape', 'blithering women' failing to do a 'man's work', and homosexuality being a 'stubborn disability' also remain," the newspaper said.

James Bond is the second major franchise to have undergone sensitivity changes within the week after children's books by renowned author Roald Dahl had been partly rewritten to remove language that's now considered offensive, as well as to make the stories more inclusive. 

Adjectives such as "fat" and "ugly" have been removed from classic titles including Matilda, The BFG and James and the Giant Peach. In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Willy Wonka's factory workers the Oompa Loompas have also become gender-neutral in a bid to promote inclusivity. 

However, the books' publisher said it would also release an unaltered "classics collection" following pushback against what had been criticised by some as the "woke" changes.