Author Review: Ian Fleming
“Shaken, not stirred.”
— Ian Fleming
Ian Fleming was born on May 28, 1908 in London, England. He worked in financial services before writing the 1953 novel Casino Royale, which featured spy character James Bond.
Ian Fleming, the creator of the famous James Bond spy novels, was born in London, England on May 28, 1908. One of four sons, he grew up in an affluent and influential family. His father, Valentine, served in Parliament before fighting in World War I. Fleming was only 9 years old when his father died in combat.
Fleming attended Eton College, one of the England’s top schools. He later studied at Sandhurst, the elite military academy. After a stint at the Reuters news agency, Fleming tried his hand at high finance. World events, however, would soon change the course of his career.
During the war, Fleming learned the ins and outs of espionage. He received a commission in the Royal Navy and worked for British Naval Intelligence. Eventually serving as the assistant to Admiral John Godfrey, the director of Naval Intelligence, Fleming was privy to much of Britain’s efforts to win the war. He travelled overseas several times, including visits to the United States to coordinate intelligence operations. He also went to Jamaica for a conference, and the island left a lasting impression on Fleming.
It has been said that much of Fleming’s work in intelligence shaped and informed his James Bond novels. The character of “M,” Bond’s boss, is believed to have been modeled after Admiral Godfrey. The full impact of Fleming’s real-life spy work on his most famous fictional figure will never likely be to known, however. He had been sworn to secrecy by the British government.
Fleming’s first novel, Casino Royale, was published in 1953. The book had been written the previous year while he was on vacation at his home, which he named Goldeneye after a military mission, in Jamaica. Fleming also got married to Anne Rothermere around this time. The couple welcomed their only child, son Caspar, in 1952. He later wrote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, a story about a magical car, to entertain his son.
While this first Bond novel came and went with little notice, Fleming’s stories of a super spy with a license to kill soon caught on. Live and Let Die came out in England in 1954 quickly followed by Moonraker and Diamonds Are Forever. Readers began eagerly scoop up these tales of fast cars, beautiful women and deadly intrigue. American president John F. Kennedy and England’s Prince Philip were reportedly among Fleming’s many fans.
While audiences were packing movie theatres to see James Bond in action, his creator was facing health problems. He had his first serious heart attack in 1962, and he never seemed to fully recover from that incident. Fleming died on August 12, 1964, in Canterbury, England. He had been taken to a hospital there after suffering another heart attack.
Fleming may be gone, but James Bond remains a vital part of popular culture. After Sean Connery, numerous other actors, such as Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan and Timothy Dalton, have taken up the legendary suave spy role. Daniel Craig played Bond in the most recent film in the series, 2012’s Skyfall and more movies are in the works. It seems that audiences have an insatiable desire to immerse themselves in Bond’s world of guns, girls and gadgets.
Ian Fleming in the SMSA Library Catalogue