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Ian Fleming biography




Ian Fleming

(1909 - 1964)

British journalist, secret service agent, writer, whose most famous creation was the superhero James Bond, agent 007. Fleming spent some years with British Intelligence, but his books are far from reality - they offer colorful locations, beautiful women, and exciting and inventive adventures. Nowadays the character of James Bond is as integral part of the popular culture as Winnie-the-Pooh or Tarzan. Although Bond's attitude toward's women is considered dated, the books have not lost their popularity.

Ian Fleming was born in London as the son of Major Valentine Fleming, a Conservative M.P., who was killed in World War I, and Evelyn St. Croix Fleming. He was educated at Eton, Sandhurst. After resigning from Sandhurst, which infuriated his mother, Fleming studied languages at the universities of Munich and Geneva. He took the Foreign Service exam, but found himself at the age of twenty-three without a career. From 1929 to 1933 he worked as a journalist in Moscow, then a banker and a stock-broker in London (1935 to 1939).

During World War II Fleming was a high ranking naval officer in the British intelligence. Owing in part to his facility with languages, he was a personal assistant to Admiral John H. Godfrey, who served as the model for James Bond's commanding officer, "M". Fleming organized the No. 30 Assault Unit - the Germans had successfully used similar Intelligence assault unit in Crete in 1941. During a training exercise Fleming had to swim underwater and attach a mine to a tanker. This act became material for the climax of LIVE AND LET DIE (1954). After the war Fleming was a foreign manager of Kemsley Newspapers. He held this post until the newspaper group became Thomson Newspapers in 1959.

Fleming's first book was not a spy novel but a foreign correspondent's guide-book which was issued for the education of his staff. In 1952 he married Anne, Lady Rothmere, in Jamaica, where most of the Bond books were written after his marriage. The first Bond adventure, CASINO ROYAL, appeared in 1953, and it was followed 13 others. Casino Royal was partly based on Fleming's less fortunate gambling experience in Lisbon during the war. The work set up what became the basic structure for most of the Bond books. Bond travels to some colorful place where he meets one or two beautiful women who have secrets in their past. Sometimes Bond is captured by his enemies but always he destroys the villain with delusions of grandeur, saves the world, and gets the good girl.

FROM RUSSIA, WITH LOVE (1957) broke the formula: 007 appeared in the eleventh chapter. President John F. Kennedy listed it in 1961 as one of his favorite books. In the story Tatiana Romanova, a beautiful Russian intelligence clerk, engineers a plot which would lure Bond to Istanbul. At the same time the Russian SMERSH agency is planning to get rid of the almost "mythological force upon whom the British Secret Service depends.

" Bond is helped in Istanbul by Darko Kerim, the local station chief. Tatiana meets Bond - against all suspicions she has fallen in love with him. They travel through the Balkans on the Orient Express, where they are pursued by Russian agents. Bond wins Donavan "Red" Grant, an executioner, and Rosa Klebb, who has deadly boots. The novel was a hit, and reviews were generally favorable. The film version was made at London's Pinewood Studios and on locations in Turkey, Scotland, and Madrid. "Less dependent on the fantastic element that would predominate in later Bond pictures, it resembles, in the opinion of Bond biographer John Brosnan, more of a Hitchcockian style thriller like North by Northwest. In general, this is a grittier, more "realistic," relatively less tongue-in-cheek James Bond - before technology, scenery, and endless strings on "Bond Girls" became the foci of the productions." (from Novels into Film by John C. Tibbetts and James M. Welsh, 1999)

In DOCTOR NO (1958) Fleming combined elements of science fiction in the story. The villain, Dr. No., has developed a radio beam and intends to deflect U.S. test missiles from their projected course. Live and Let Die introduced Mr. Big, a new member of SMERSH, the enemy agency Bond so often found working against. Other famous villains include Auric Goldfinger from GOLDFINGER (1959), KGB killers Rosa Klebb and Donovan Grant (From Russia, with Love) and Scaramanga (THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, 1965). Bond's arch nemesis was the half-Polish, half-Greek Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the founder of SPECTRE, an acronym for Special Executive for Counterespionage, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion. Blofeld appeared in three novels: THUNDERBALL (1961), ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE (1963), and YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (1964). In the latter book the character of Dikko Henderson was based on Richard Hughes, the Sunday Times correspondent in the Far East. Also other Fleming's friends were put into Bond books.

In 1956 Fleming started selling his novels to be adapted for a comic strip. He was asked to contribute to a series of articles for London's Sunday Times on diamond smuggling. The articles appeared in book form in 1957. Fleming published A successful children's book about a magical car, CHITTY-CHITTY-BANG-BANG. It was adapted into a musical film in 1968. The book was written for his son, Caspar, who committed suicide at the age of 23. Fleming also contributed to many periodicals under the pseudonym Atticus. Among his non-fiction is the travel book THRILLING CITIES (1963). It was based on articles published in Sunday Times in 1959-60. Fleming's first journey, paid by Roy Thomson, the publisher, took him around the world, and the second to European cities. His text was edited in the newspaper but in the book it appeared in original length. According to Fleming, the best hotel in Honk Kong is Peninsula Court. In Japan a traveler must remember that sake should be taken warm and in Monte Carlo the best casino is Beaulieu. Fleming did not like New York - he felt that it is losing its heart - but in Hamburg he followed with enthusiasm mud wrestling in the middle of the night.

"When Bond was in Paris he invariably stuck to the same addresses. He stayed at the Terminus Nord, because he liked station hotels and because this was the least pretentious and most anonymous of them. He had luncheon at the Caf? de la Paix, the Rotunde or the D?me, because the food was good enough and it amused him to watch the people. If he wanted a solid drink he had it at Harry's Bar, both because of the solidity of the drinks and because, on his first ignorant visit to Paris at the age of sixteen, he had done what Harry' s advertisement in the Continental Daily Mail had told him to do and said to his taxi-driver 'Sank Roo Doe Noo'. That had started one of the memorable evenings of his life, culminating in the loss, almost simultaneous, of his virginity and his notecase." (from For Your Eyes Only, 1960)

The film version of Doctor No was released in 1963. The spring of the same year saw the publication of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, including a limited edition of 250. The cover featured the Bond family coat of arms complete with the motto 'The World Is Not Enough.' In between writing Fleming developed a passion for treasurehunting, not merely in the Caribbean Islands and Seychelles, where he followed old pirate's maps and tales, but also in England. In spite of warning's from doctors, Fleming did not give up his outdoor activities, and the final heart attack which ended his life came at the Royal St. George's Sandwich golf course in Kent on 12 August, 1964. The Man with the Golden Gun, finished by Fleming's literary executors, was published posthumously. OCTOPUSSY, a collection containing two of Fleming's Bond stories, appeared in 1966.

In 1981 John Gardner started to write James Bond books and later the series was continued by Raymond Benson. Also Robert Markham (pseudonym of Kingsley Amis) has written 007 sequels. - See also: Leslie Charteris - Before acting in James Bond films, Roger Moore played The Saint in the 1960s television series. Fleming had expressed doubts about Sean Connery in his role as Agent 007. Fleming's choise was the sophisticated David Niven, but after From Russia with Love he said that the actor was much as he had imagined Bond.

Information source: wikipedia