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||Ian (Lancaster) Fleming (1908-1964) - pseudonym Atticus|
British journalist, secret service agent, writer, whose 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.
"It was a dark, clean-cut face, with a three-inch scar showing whitely down the sunburned skin of the right cheek. The eyes were wide and level under straight, rather long black brows. The hair was black, parted on the left, and carelessly brushed so that a thick black comma fell down over the right eyebrow. The longish straight nose ran down to a short upper lip below which was a wide and finely drawn but cruel mouth. The line of jaw was straight and firm. A section of dark suit, white short and black knitted tie completed the picture." (James Bond in Casino Royale, 1953)
Ian Fleming was born in London, the son of Major Valentine Fleming, a Conservative M.P., who was killed in World War I, and Evelyn St. Croix Fleming. Ian was the second of four boys. Like his father and elder brother before him, he was educated at Eton, where he excelled in the difficult steeple chase contest. His first story, 'The Ordeal of Caryl St. George', was published in the college magazine. From Eton he was expelled following "some alleged trouble with one of the boys' maids".
After resigning from the Sandhurst Military Academy without an officer’s commission, which infuriated his mother, Fleming spent some time studying languages in the Austrian Alps. There he became briefly engaged with a Swiss woman, Monique Panchaud de Bottomes. Fleming failed the Foreign Service exam, and found himself at the age of twenty-three without a career. In 1931 he was employded by Reuters news agency. For a period he worked as a journalist in Moscow, where the Russians knew that he was on some intelligence job or other, then a banker and a stock-broker in London from 1935 to 1939. Even though Fleming was a lousy stock broker, he managed make enough money to buy his own place, a former baptist chapel.
In the 1930s, Fleming's elder brother Peter (1907-1971), a travel writer and novelist, gained fame with Brazilian Adventure (1933), about an expedition into Mato Grosso, and News from Tartary (1936), describing a journey from Peking to Kashmir. Peter Fleming published also science fiction stories.
During World War II Fleming was a high ranking naval officer in the British Naval Intelligence. He was "a skilled fixer and a vigorous showman," wrote Donald McLachlan, the historian of room 39. Owing in part to his facility with languages and his social confidence, he was appointed personal assistant to Admiral John H. Codfrey behind the door to room 38. Codfrey 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). Commissioned by the Admiralty, Fleming traveled around the world to coordinate intelligence for the new British Pacific Fleet. On one journey he visited Jamaica, where he later build his home. 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 Lady Ann Rothermere, his long-time mistress, in Jamaica. Their son Caspar was born a few months later. At the wedding Noėl Coward, Fleming's neighbor, served as master of ceremonies. Lord Rothermere was the owner of the Daily Mail. Fleming, who was her third husband, had first met her in 1939, but they became seriously involved after the war. The marriage was unhappy. In Jamaica Fleming had a long-running affair with Blanche Blackwell, whose son founded Island Records, which turned Jamaican music global.
Most of the Bond books Fleming wrote in Jamaica; his house on the north coast Fleming named 'Goldeneye'. Prime minister Anthony Eden spent there some time during the Suez crisis before resigning in 1957. The first Bond adventure, Casino Royale, appeared in 1953, and it was followed 13 others. Casino Royale 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 and tortured by his enemies, but always he destroys the villain with delusions of grandeur, saves the world, and gets the good girl. Bond has a flat in Chelsea, he drives Bentley, and his Secret Service is located in a building overlooking Regent's Park in London. Ann Fleming labelled her husband's books as "pornography".
James Bond (the name was taken from that of an American ornithologist), is the son of a Highland Scots father and a Swiss mother. Both of Bond's parents were killed in a climbing accident when he was eleven, and an inheritance of £1000 a year let him add some other educational experiences to his boarding school years. At the age of sixteen Bond lost his virginity in Paris. He joined in the late 1930s the British secret service, but switched to the navy when the war broke out, attaining the rank of commander. Bond is a skilled golfer and the best cardplayer, expert driver and a crack shot. Among his friends is American Felix Leiter from the CIA. Bond's favorite drink is vodka martini, shaken, not stirred. Although Bond carries a Beretta pistol Casino Royale, he later trusts on Walther PPK, originally designed for the German plain-clothes police. However, "Bond mythology" is now mixed with elements from the films. In 2000 appeared an illustrated book, James Bond: The Secret World of 007 by Alastair Dougall, which do not mention the writer Ian Fleming - in tune with the idea of the book. Dougall's work sheds light on '"Agent Double-O-Seven and, perhaps most exciting of all, the extraordinary vehicles and gadgetry supplied by Q Branch for his use "in the field".' The consultant editor was Dave Worrall, who founded The James Bond Collectors Club.
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. The settings were a nod to Eric Ambler's novel The Mask of Dimitrios (1938), which takes the reader on a journey to Turkey and the Levant, but Fleming no doubt was familiar with Graham Greene's Stamboul Train (1932) and Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express (1934). 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), inspired by Sax Rohmer's Fu-Manchu novels, 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). Goldfinger was named after the architect Erno Goldfinger, a Marxist and the designer of the Modernist tower blocks in London, Balfron Tower and Trellick Tower. His sidekick is Oddjob, played by Hawaiian weightlifter Harold Sakata in the film. Le Chiffre from Casino Royale is said to be based on the notorious English writer and occult figure Aleister Crowley. 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. "But some motorcars - mine, for instance, and perhaps yours - are different. If you get to like them and understand them, if you are kind to them and don't scratch their paint and bang their doors, if you fill them up and pump them up when they need it, of you keep them clean and polish and out the rain and snow as much as possible, you will find, you MAY find, that they become almost like persons - MORE than just ordinary persons - MAGICAL PERSONS!!!" The story was adapted into a musical film in 1968. Fleming wrote the book 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 Hong 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 Café de la Paix, the Rotunde or the Dōme, 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 first adaptation of a James Bond spy story was Casino Royale, produced in CBS's anthology series Climax! in 1954. Peter Lorre played the Soviet agent Le Chiffre, Barry Nelson was Jimmy Bond. An incomplete telerecording of the show surfaced in the 1980s. Doctor No's film version 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.
For further reading: The James Bond Dossier by Kingsley Amis (1965); The Book of Bond; or, Every Man His Own 007 by William Tanner (1965); The Bond Affair, ed. by Oreste Del Buono and Umberto Eco (1965); The Spy Who Came In with the Gold by Henry A. Zeger (1965); Alias James Bond - The Life of Ian Fleming by John Pearson (1966); The Man With the Golden Pen by Eleanor Perline and Dennis Perline (1966); Room 39: A Study in Naval Intelligence by Donald McLachlan (1968); Sean Connery by Michael Feeney (1981); James Bond in the Cinema by John Brosnan (1981); The James Bond Bedside Companion by Raymond Benson (1984); Bond and Beyond: The Political Career of a Popular Hero by Tony Bennett and Janet Woolacott (1987); Ian Fleming: The Man Behind James Bond by Andrew Lycett (1996); The Man Who Saved Britain by Simon Winder (2006); Ian Fleming's James Bond: Annotations and Chronologies for Ian Fleming's Bond Stories by John Griswold (2006); For Your Eyes Only by Ben Macintyre (2008); Ian Fleming's Secret War by Craig Cabell (2008); The James Bond Phenomenon: A Critical Reader, edited by Christoph Lindner (2009); James Bond in World and Popular Culture: The Films Are Not Enough, edited by Robert G. Weiner, B. Lynn Whitfield and Jack Becker (2011); Ian Fleming's Commandos: The Story of 30 Assault Unit in WWII by Nicholas Rankin (2011); Ian Fleming by Andrew Lycett (2013); Ian Fleming: a Personal Memoir by Robert Harling (2015); Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang: the Boom in British Thrillers from Casino Royale to The Eagle Has Landed by Mike Ripley (2017); The Playboy and James Bond: 007, Ian Fleming and Playboy Magazine by Claire Hines (2018); The Real James Bond: a True Story of Identity Theft, Avian Intrigue, and Ian Fleming by Jim Wright (2020) - Other Bond films: A View to a Kill (1985), dir. by John Glen, Roger Moore's last performance as Bond. - Licence to Kill (1989), dir. by John Glen, starring Timothy Dalton. The first Bond movie with no ties to Fleming's work. - Goldeneye (1995), dir. by Martin Campbell, starring Pierce Brosnan. - Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), dir. by Roger Spottiswoode, starring Pierce Brosnan. - The World Is Not Enough (1999), dir. by Michael Apted, starring Pierce Brosnan. - Die Another Day (2002), starring Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry. Madonna sings the title song. - Quantum of Solace (2008), dir. by Marc Forster, starring Daniel Craig. - Skyfall (2012), dir. by Sam Mendes, starring Daniel Craig. - Spectre (2015), dir. by Sam Mendes, starring Daniel Craig.