Ian Fleming

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Ian Lancaster Fleming (May 28, 1908August 12, 1964) was an English author and journalist, best remembered for writing the James Bond series of novels as well as the children's story, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.


[edit] Biography

Ian Fleming was born in Mayfair, London, to Valentine Fleming, a Member of Parliament, and his wife Evelyn Beatrice St Croix Fleming (née Rose). Ian was the younger brother of the travel writer Peter Fleming and the older brother of Michael and Richard Fleming. One of the sons of Richard (1910-77) is the novelist James Fleming (born 1944). Ian Fleming also had an illegitimate half-sister, the cellist Amaryllis Fleming. He was the grandson of Scottish financier Robert Fleming, founder of the Scottish American Investment Trust and of merchant bank Robert Fleming & Co. (since 2000 part of JP Morgan Chase).

Fleming was educated at Durnford School (Dorset), Eton College and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He won the Victor Ludorum at Eton two years running, something that had only been achieved once before him. After an early departure from Sandhurst, which he found uncongenial, his mother sent him to study languages on the continent, first at Kitzbühel, Austria, at a small private establishment 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 improve his French at the University of Geneva. He was unsuccessful in joining the Foreign Office, and subsequently worked first as a sub-editor and journalist for the Reuters news service, including time in 1933 in Moscow, and later as a stockbroker with Rowe and Pitman, in Bishopsgate.

[edit] World War II

In 1939, on the eve of World War II, Rear Admiral John Godfrey, Director of Naval Intelligence of the Royal Navy, recruited Fleming (then a reserve subaltern in the Black Watch) as his personal assistant. Commissioned as a Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve lieutenant, he was subsequently promoted to Lieutenant Commander, then Commander.

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.<ref>http://phg.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/27/2/153.pdf </ref>

In Naval Intelligence, Fleming conceived and was author of Operation Ruthless, a plan – not executed – for capturing the German naval version of the Wehrmacht's Enigma communications encoder. He also conceived an attempt to use British occultist Aleister Crowley to trick Rudolph Hess into attempting to contact a faux cell of anti-Churchill Englishmen in Britain, but this plan was not used as Rudolph 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 his consequent 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 if Spain had joined the Axis Powers and along with Germany had invaded it.

In June 1941 General William Donovan requested that Fleming write a memorandum describing the structure and functions of a secret service organisation; for that, Fleming was rewarded with a .38 Police Positive Colt revolver pistol inscribed, "For Special Services." Parts of this memorandum were later used in the official charter for the OSS, which was dissolved after World War II in 1945; the OSS's successor, the Central Intelligence Agency, was proposed and created two years later.

In 1942 Fleming formed an Auxiliary Unit known as 30AU or 30 Assault Unit which he nicknamed his own "Red Indians"; it was specifically trained in lock-picking, safe-cracking, forms of unarmed combat, and other techniques and skills for collecting intelligence. He meticulously planned all their raids, along side Patrick Dalzel-Job (Inspirations for James Bond) going so far as to memorize aerial photographs so that their missions could be planned in detail; because of their successes in Sicily and Italy, 30AU was greatly enlarged and Fleming's direct control had to be added to before D-Day. Fleming even visited 30AU in the field during and after operation OVERLORD, especially after Cherbourg attack where he felt that the unit had been incorrectly used as frontline force rather than Intelligence gathering unit and from then on tactics were revised.

It is often reported, and perpetuated by Fleming, that he travelled to Whitby, Ontario to train at Camp X, a top secret training school for Allied forces, however, it most likely is untrue, as no evidence of Fleming having been at Camp X has ever been retrieved, nor do any of the staff recall Fleming ever having been there.<ref>Chancellor, Henry (2005). James Bond: The Man and His World. John Murray. ISBN 0-7195-6815-3.</ref>

[edit] Writing career

As the DNI's personal assistant, Fleming's intelligence career was the background and experience for the James Bond novels. The first published was Casino Royale in 1953. Its anti-heroine, Vesper Lynd, is believed to have been inspired by real-life SOE agent Christine Granville; likewise, various inspirations have been suggested for the hero, James Bond. The James Bond books were very successful and became a part of 1950s popular culture, even before they were adapted to cinema. This enabled Fleming to retire comfortably to his cottage in Jamaica, 'Goldeneye', where he wrote all of the Bond novels. Why Fleming chose that name for his house is unknown. Several reasons are suggested, including: that the house is in Oracabessa, which some believe is derived from the Spanish for 'golden head' (Cabeza de oro); reportedly, Fleming read Carson McCullers' novel Reflections In A Golden Eye around the time he bought the house in Jamaica; or, more notably, when Fleming was charged with defending Gibraltar during the Second World War he dubbed the operation Operation Goldeneye.

The Spy Who Loved Me (1962) departs stylistically from the other novels of the series as it was written in the first person perspective of Vivienne Michel, the female protagonist, whom Fleming credited as co-author.

In 1961 Fleming sold the film rights to his extant and future James Bond novels and short stories to Harry Saltzman, who, with Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli, co-produced a film version of Dr. No (1962). For its cast, Fleming suggested his neighbour, Sir Noël Coward, to portray Dr. Julius No and David Niven as James Bond. Some sources speculate Roger Moore as another Fleming favourite for the role of Bond, and Fleming's cousin Christopher Lee as Dr. No or even James Bond. Although Lee was not selected for either role, he was later cast as the eponymous villain, The Man with the Golden Gun, Francisco Scaramanga. The successful Dr. No was followed by From Russia with Love (1963), the last James Bond movie Ian Fleming saw released.

Besides writing 12 novels and nine short stories featuring James Bond, Fleming also wrote the children's novel, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

During the Istanbul Pogroms, for which many Greek and some Turkish scholars blamed Britain's secret orchestration, Fleming's account, "The Great Riot of Istanbul", was published in the Sunday Times, on 11 September 1955.

[edit] Later life

Ian Fleming. LIFE Cover.

Fleming was a noted bibliophile, and compiled an important library on the theme of significant books in the history of Western Civilisation, books which, in his opinion, had "started something". Particularly, he collected books relating to science and technology, such as On the Origin of Species, including milestones such as Mein Kampf and Scouting for Boys. He was a major lender to the 1963 exhibition Printing and the Mind of Man; 600 books from his collection are in the Lilly Library at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A.

In the morning of August 12, 1964, Fleming died of a heart attack in Canterbury, Kent, at age 56, and he was buried in the churchyard cemetery of Sevenhampton village, near Swindon. His widow, Anne Geraldine Mary Fleming (19131981), and their only son, Caspar Robert Fleming (19521975), who died of a drug overdose, were later buried next to him. His heart attack probably resulted from his lifestyle of daily heavy drinking and heavy smoking in addition to the stressful Thunderball lawsuits in the early 1960s, where film producer Kevin McClory sued Fleming for adapting a screenplay co-written by McClory and Jack Whittingham.

[edit] Selected works

[edit] James Bond books

Nr Name Year
1. Casino Royale1 1953
2. Live and Let Die 1954
3. Moonraker2 1955
4. Diamonds Are Forever 1956
5. From Russia with Love 1957
6. Dr. No 1958
7. Goldfinger 1959
8. For Your Eyes Only3 1960
9. Thunderball4 1961
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 Gun6 1965
14. Octopussy and The Living Daylights7 1966

1 First U.S. paperback edition was retitled You Asked for It.
2 First U.S. paperback edition was retitled Too Hot to Handle.
3 Short story collection: (i) "From a View to a Kill," (ii) "For Your Eyes Only," (iii) "Risico," (iv) "Quantum of Solace", and (v) "The Hildebrand Rarity."
4 Subject of a legal battle over story credit which led to the book's storyline also being credited to Kevin McClory and Jack Whittingham; see the controversy over Thunderball
5 Fleming gives co-author credit to "Vivienne Michel", the fictional heroine of the book; Fleming refused to allow a paperback edition to be published in the UK, but one was eventually published after his death. His agreement with Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman only allowed the use of the title for a movie.
6 For years, it has been alleged that Kingsley Amis, and/or others, completed this novel as Fleming died before a finished manuscript was created. Many Fleming biographers dispute this; see the controversy over The Man With The Golden Gun.
7 Posthumously compiled short story collection. Originally published with two stories: (i) "Octopussy" and (ii) "The Living Daylights". The 1967 paperback edition's title was shortened to Octopussy and a third story, "The Property of a Lady", increased its page count. In the 1990s, the collection's longer, original title was restored, and with the 2002 edition, the story, "007 in New York" (originally published in some editions of Thrilling Cities (see below) was added.

[edit] Children's story

[edit] Non-fiction

[edit] Unfinished/unpublished works

  • Fleming kept a scrapbook containing notes and ideas for future James Bond stories. It included fragments of possible short stories or novels featuring Bond that were never published. Excerpts from some of these can be found in The Life of Ian Fleming by John Pearson[1].
  • The author Geoffrey Jenkins worked with Fleming on a James Bond story idea between 1957 and 1964. After Fleming's death, Jenkins was commissioned by Bond publishers Glidrose Productions to turn this story, Per Fine Ounce into a novel, but it was never published.

[edit] Biographical films

[edit] See also

  • The controversy over Thunderball — details of the lawsuit between Fleming and Kevin McClory over possible plagiarism as well as the film rights to the story and the character of James Bond that lasted for decades after Fleming's death.
  • Inside Camp X by Lynn Philip Hodgson, with a foreword by Secret Agent 'Andy Durovecz (2003) - ISBN 0-9687062-0-7

[edit] References


[edit] External links

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Preceded by:
James Bond writer
Succeeded by:
Kingsley Amis
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