Celebrating 50 years of James Bond

Ian Fleming

Creator of the James Bond series...

Ian Fleming

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Ian Fleming was born on 28 May 1908 at 7 Green Street, London W1. He was the second son of Valentine and Eve Fleming. Their first child, Peter, had been born a year earlier and two younger brothers, Richard and Michael, soon followed. Valentine Fleming was elected as Member of Parliament for South Oxfordshire in 1910 and the family moved to Pitt House on Hampstead Heath.

After leaving Eton, Ian Fleming spent some time in the Austrian Tyrol at Kitzbuhel and went on to study in Munich and Geneva. He had briefly attended the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst (which he did not enjoy) and was later disappointed not to succeed in the tough Foreign Office entrance examinations. Instead, he started at Reuters. This was a very enjoyable and successful period and he particularly relished covering a notorious espionage trial in Russia. But he then went back to London and started a new career as a stockbroker; until the outbreak of war changed his life completely...

Within the first few pages of Casino Royale, the essential outline of James Bond appears. 007 has cold and ruthless eyes, he drives a 1933 4.5 litre Bentley. He drinks champagne and dry Martinis, shaken, not stirred - "three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it's ice cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel." He smokes Morland cigarettes (a special Balkan and Turkish blend with their triple gold band) kept in a flat gun metal box. He is carrying a concealed weapon - his .25 Beretta automatic. And very soon he meets the enchanting Vesper Lynd who wears a black velvet dress "simple and yet with the touch of splendour that only half a dozen couturiers in the world could achieve". Have a look at these drafts of the opening sentence:

First attempt: "Scent and smoke and sweat hit the taste buds with an acid thwack at three o'clock in the morning"

Second try: "Scent and smoke and sweat can suddenly combine together and hit the taste buds with an acid shock at three o'clock in the morning"

Finally (and brilliantly): "The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning".

After completing his second novel Live And Let Die, Ian started working as "Atticus", the leading columnist of the Sunday Times. It was the perfect companion job for a new writer - it provided a stimulating flow of ideas, news, and intriguing facts and theories. Moonraker and Diamonds Are Forever followed and found increasing success and sales in the UK and the US. From Russia With Love, Ian's fifth book, is generally recognised as a turning point in his career. Richly detailed, shot through with persuasive and impressive snippets about Soviet espionage, the novel also contains a more fully realised James Bond. Critics and readers recognised the book's virtues. Ian Fleming had become "the author of the James Bond novels" rather than an emerging thriller writer.

As the series progressed, the books enjoyed increasing international success. They received a huge boost of popularity in the US in 1961 when President Kennedy included From Russia With Love in a list of ten favourite books for Life magazine. However, Ian Fleming had a major heart attack later that year. He spent some time during his convalescence writing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, based on a bedtime story he had created forl his son, Caspar. He continued to write more novels, finishing The Man With The Golden Gun in 1963. He died on 12 August, 1964.

Fact file

Name: Ian Fleming

Date of birth: 1908

Place of birth: London

Education: Eton, Sandhurst (briefly)

Similar Authors: Frederick Forsyth and John le Carre


Casino Royale

Casino Royale


'Surround yourself with human beings, my dear James. They are easier to fight for than principles.' In "Casino Royale", the first of Fleming's 007 adventures, a game of cards is James Bond's only chance to bring down...
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