Ian Lancaster Fleming (May 28, 1908 – August 12, 1964) was a British author, journalist and Second World War Navy Commander. Fleming is best remembered for creating the character of James Bond and chronicling his adventures in twelve novels and nine short stories. Additionally, Fleming wrote the children's story Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and two non-fiction books.
Fleming was educated at Sunningdale School in Berkshire, Eton College, and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He was Victor Ludorum at Eton two years running, something that had been achieved only once before him. He found Sandhurst to be uncongenial, and after an early departure from there, his mother sent him to study languages on the continent. He first went to a small private establishment in Kitzbühel, Austria, run by the Adlerian disciples Ernan Forbes Dennis and his American wife, the novelist Phyllis Bottome, to improve his German and prepare him for the Foreign Office exams, then to Munich University, and, finally, to the University of Geneva to improve his French. He was unsuccessful in his application to join the Foreign Office, and subsequently worked as a sub-editor and journalist for the Reuters news service, including time in 1933 in Moscow, and then as a stockbroker with Rowe and Pitman, in Bishopsgate. He was a member of Boodle's, the gentleman's club in St. James's Street, from 1944 until his death in 1964.
In 1940 Fleming and Godfrey contacted Kenneth Mason, Professor of Geography at Oxford University, about preparing reports devoted to the geography of countries engaged in military operations. These reports were the precursors of the Naval Intelligence Division Geographical Handbook Series produced between 1941 and 1946. He also conceived of a plan to use British occultist Aleister Crowley to trick Rudolf Hess into attempting to contact a fake cell of anti-Churchill Englishmen in Britain, but this plan was not used because Rudolf Hess had flown to Scotland in an attempt to broker peace behind Hitler's back. Anthony Masters's book The Man Who Was M: The Life of Charles Henry Maxwell Knight asserts Fleming conceived the plan that lured Hess into flying to Scotland, in May 1941, to negotiate Anglo–German peace with Churchill, and resulted in Hess's capture: this claim has no other source.
Fleming also formulated Operation Goldeneye, a plan to maintain communication with Gibraltar as well as a plan of defence in the unlikely event that Spain joined the Axis Powers and, together with Germany, invaded the Mediterranean colony.
The unit did not operate as a single unit, but as specialist teams that would attach themselves to whatever main force would get them closest to their invidual targets. In the final stage, the teams were trained and equipped to fight their own way into a headquarters building and secure whatever items they required, before the enemy extracted it themselves, or destroyed it before leaving. To adapt a phrase, whilst they may not have relied on fear, they did rely on surprise, toughness and ruthless efficiency. Prior to D-Day, Fleming had only indirect access, as most of the action was away in the Mediterranean. However, because of their successes in Sicily and Italy, 30AU (based at the The Marine Hotel Littlehampton, West Sussex, now a public house and venue for the annual reunion of the 30AU veterans) became greatly trusted by naval intelligence. Having seen the scope of its achievements and its potential, with the right support and the right direction, to deliver even more, the unit was much enlarged and it was given direct tasks: specific items and documents to acquire. Fleming was the man who would give these specific directives.
Fleming visited 30AU in the field during and after Operation Overlord, especially after the Cherbourg attack. He was concerned that the unit had been incorrectly used as a main line Commando force, rather than in its intelligence gathering role. This wasted the men's specialist skills; hazarded them on a task not appropriate to the risk; threatened either the total loss, or devaluation through delay, of the intelligence priorities. From then on, the management of the units was revised.
As a desk-bound officer for much of the war, Fleming yearned to be connected with real heroes and with direct action. Access to this unit gave him that vicarious involvement, without the pain of having to do the arduous training himself. It also made him see that intelligence-gathering could be macho, masculine and main stream, not the obscure work of odd-balls and the effete. When he began his writing career, Fleming would have his fictional hero incorporate the macho attitude of the naval commandos into the more sophisticated milieu of the traditional spy novel: the combination would take the spy novel forward and create a new genre.
Initially Fleming's Bond novels were not bestsellers in America, but when President John F. Kennedy included From Russia With Love on a list of his favourite books, sales quickly jumped. Fleming wrote 14 Bond books in all: Casino Royale (1953), Live and Let Die (1954), Moonraker (1955), Diamonds Are Forever (1956), From Russia with Love (1957), Dr. No (1958), Goldfinger (1959), For Your Eyes Only (1960), Thunderball (1961), The Spy Who Loved Me (1962), On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1963), You Only Live Twice (1964), The Man with the Golden Gun (1965), and Octopussy and The Living Daylights (1966).
In the late 1950s, the financial success of Fleming's James Bond series allowed him to retire to Goldeneye, his estate in Saint Mary Parish, Jamaica. The name of the house and estate where he wrote his novels has many sources. Notably, Ian Fleming himself cited Operation Goldeneye, a plan to bedevil the Nazis should the Germans enter Spain during World War II. He also cited the 1941 novel, Reflections in a Golden Eye by Carson McCullers. The location of the property may also have been a factor — Oracabessa, or "Golden head". There is also a Spanish tomb on the property with a bit of carving that looks like an eye on one side. It is likely that most or all of these factors played a part in Fleming's naming his Jamaican home. In Ian Fleming's interview published in Playboy in December 1964, he states, "I had happened to be reading Reflections in a Golden Eye by Carson McCullers, and I'd been involved in an operation called Goldeneye during the war: the defense of Gibraltar, supposing that the Spaniards had decided to attack it; and I was deeply involved in the planning of countermeasures which would have been taken in that event. Anyway, I called my place Goldeneye." The estate, next door to that of Fleming's friend and rival Noel Coward, is now the centerpiece of an exclusive resort by the same name.
The Spy Who Loved Me (1962) stylistically departs from other books in the Bond series as it is written in the first person perspective of the (fictional) protagonist, Vivienne Michel, whom Fleming credits as co-author. It is the story of her life, up until when James Bond serendipitously rescues her from the wrong circumstance at the wrong place and time.
Besides writing twelve novels and nine short stories featuring James Bond, Fleming also wrote the children's novel Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. He also wrote a guide to some of the world's most famous cities in Thrilling Cities and a study of The Diamond Smugglers.
In 1961, he sold the film rights to his already published as well as future James Bond novels and short stories to Harry Saltzman, who, with Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli, co-produced the film version of Dr. No (1962). For the cast, Fleming suggested friend and neighbour Noël Coward as the villain Dr. Julius No, and David Niven or, later, Roger Moore as James Bond. Both were rejected in favour of Sean Connery, who was both Broccoli and Saltzman's choice. Fleming also suggested his cousin, Christopher Lee, either as Dr. No or even as James Bond. Although Lee was selected for neither role, in 1974 he portrayed assassin Francisco Scaramanga, the eponymous villain of The Man with the Golden Gun.
Neither Saltzman nor Broccoli expected Dr. No to be much of a success, but it was an instant sensation and sparked a spy craze through the rest of the 1960s.
The successful Dr. No was followed by From Russia with Love (1963), the second and last James Bond movie Ian Fleming saw.
During the Istanbul Pogroms, which many Greek and some Turkish scholars attributed to secret orchestrations by Britain, Fleming wrote an account of the events, "The Great Riot of Istanbul", which was published in the The Sunday Times on 11 September 1955.
Fleming was a bibliophile who collected a library of books that had, in his opinion, "started something", and therefore were significant in the history of western civilization. He concentrated on science and technology, e.g. On the Origin of Species, but also included other significant works ranging from Mein Kampf to Scouting for Boys. He was a major lender to the 1963 exhibition Printing and the Mind of Man. Some six hundred books from Fleming's collection are held in the Lilly Library at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A.
In March 1960, Fleming met John F. Kennedy through Marion Oates Leiter who was a mutual friend and invited both to dinner. Leiter had introduced Kennedy to Fleming's books during his recovery from an operation in 1955. After dinner Fleming related his ideas on discrediting Fidel Castro; these were reported to Central Intelligence Agency chief Allen Welsh Dulles, who gave the ideas serious consideration.
Fifty-six-year-old Ian Fleming died of a heart attack on the morning of August 12 1964, in Canterbury, Kent, England, and was later buried in the churchyard of Sevenhampton village, near Swindon. Upon their own deaths, Fleming's widow, Ann Geraldine Mary Fleming (1913–1981), and son Caspar Robert Fleming (1952–1975), were buried next to him. Caspar committed suicide with a drug overdose.
In observance of what would have been Fleming's 100th birthday in 2008, Ian Fleming Publications commissioned Sebastian Faulks to write a new Bond novel entitled Devil May Care. The book, released in May 2008, is credited to "Sebastian Faulks, writing as Ian Fleming".
|1.||Casino Royale 1||1953|
|2.||Live and Let Die||1954|
|4.||Diamonds Are Forever||1956|
|5.||From Russia with Love||1957|
|8.||For Your Eyes Only (short stories) 3||1960|
|10.||The Spy Who Loved Me5||1962|
|11.||On Her Majesty's Secret Service||1963|
|12.||You Only Live Twice||1964|
|13.||The Man with the Golden Gun 6||1965|
|14.||Octopussy and The Living Daylights (short stories) 7||1966|