By: John Waters
Ian Fleming did not just create the character of James Bond; he personified him by living an exciting life. With his suave style and long history of lavished background he was almost born into the part of his later creation.
Ian Fleming was born on May 8th, 1908 to his father, Valentine Fleming, and his mother, Beatrice Fleming
(Lycett 12). He was the grandson of the famous Scottish banking pioneer, Robert Fleming (Rosenberg 5). Ian also
had three brothers named Peter, Richard, and Michael. He hated his brother Peter during
most of his childhood. This was due to his brother being very successful in academics and
got his fathers attention. Fist fights usually broke out between the two of them
He loved his mother, but he was always rebelling against her because, he didn't like the
thought of her controlling his life (Lycett 28). Ian's father did seem more like a teacher than a
father him. He always encouraged Ian to take part in sports such as track. The father even
taught him golf (Rosenberg 8). Since his father and his brother were very successful, Ian felt
a desire to become successful himself. Ian attended Eton High School and joined the track team there and became an outstanding athlete (Cork 1). But, his stay at Eton was short
lived due to some trouble he was in that involved women and a motor vehicle accident
(Rosenberg 20). Apparently, Fleming stole his father's vehicle and went to a party where he
drank a lot and met women that he later invited to ride with him. One of the women distracted
Fleming and he ran into a tree (Lycett 31). During the expulsion of high school, Ian's father died in World War 1 during a battle in France on Sunday 20 May 1917 (. All the inherited
money went to Ian's mother. With the stipulation that she would remarry, Ian was pressured
into getting money of his own. The widowed mother put him in another school called
Tennerhof High School. It was there that he started to gain girlfriends and have an expensive
taste of food and automobiles. People who went to Tennerhof with Ian remembered him as
being very arrogant and difficult. There were other's that swear he was found to be charming,
handsome, witty, and a lively aristocrat. But, Ian was having problems academically. Ian's
mother knew a married couple that could help Ian. So he would visit them one day a week
for tutoring. Ian did graduate and still desired to be more successful than his brother and
father. Ian enrolled in Sandhurst: Royal Academy. He did much better in his studies since
there were no women around the college. There he took the final military exams and scored
very poorly. He was in danger of not graduating but there was an essay section of the test
that enabled him to take a job as a reporter for the British Navy. Ian took on the job with
great ease. He outsmarted the older, much more experienced by getting the
information to the press much faster than any other reporter.
Official were impressed with his work and
promoted him straight to lieutenant on the Royal Navy. He was stationed on the
HMS Repulse. His main job was to plan operations and attacks. He was not comfortable at all. Ian wrote
poetry about his father's death during his service on the ship. He wouldn't show the poetry to
anyone. During a mission that Ian had planned out himself, a crew member had committed
mutiny and was later found to be a spy for the Germans. Ian fought in hand to hand combat
with him and took him into custody. He even interrogated the man himself. Another mission
that was unrelated took Ian to Jamaica. He had fallen in love with the land. He bought a
beach house on a comfortable lot near the beach so that he could live there once his naval
term was up. He called the house "Goldeneye' because of the wonderful view every room in
the house had. Ian lived in Goldeneye two months a year until his naval term was over and
he could live there permanently. The working conditions for writing were ideal. So he wrote
more poetry but not all of it was about his dead father. The food at Goldeneye however was
described to resemble that of and armpit. Fleming crossed himself "before every morsel.
Goldeneye was such a wonderful place that he saw it a crime to take up all the beauty. So,
he let people stay at Goldeneye for a small fee. This is how he met his women. Fleming
would go out on the town with one to three girls a night. He would buy his beloved rich food,
drive his classic automobiles, and especially seduce his women until he met Ann Charteris.
They met when a girl did not up on one of Ian's dates and Ann kept him company. It wasn't
long until Ian married Ann at Goldeneye in 1952. It was said that the marriage had devolved since the ceremony. Ian Fleming had the idea to write a novel about a British spy. He never
put his thought to paper until his wife, Ann, encouraged him to write his first novel. Before he
could, Ian had to figure out the specifics of his main character. He first thought that his
character should have a code number. He remembered a number that he learned during his
naval service. The number was the German diplomatic code used to send zimmerman telegraph Berlin to Washington. That number was 007. The next trick was the name. At
Goldeneye, Ian was working this problem out with two friends: Harry Bond and James
Atkins. They pondered over names until Ian stopped and took his two friends names and
switched them to "Harry Atkins" and "James Bond". Ian chose the ladder. His friends did not seem to mind the use of their names. There was a problem though. Ian found that there
was a famous ornithologist named "James Bond". He contacted the man and invited him
over to stay at Goldeneye to discuss his character. The ornithologist loved the idea and gave
him consent to use his name.
Ian wrote his novel in quite a rush. There was no deadline but
Ian felt that it should be done as soon as possible. He wrote his main character to be 6' tall,
muscular and athletic, in his mid-thirties, with gray-blue eyes. John Pearson has dated the
birth of James Bond to be the morning of January 15, 1952. He added: "Casino Royal' was
written and finished in Goldeneye on March 18th, writing a 62,000 word manuscript in eight
weeks would have been an achievement. But, there is evidence that he might have
completed it in a shorter amount of time." Ian Fleming had doubts that "Casino Royale"
would succeed but it did and so he continued on to write other bond books such as "Live
and Let Die", "Moonraker", "Diamonds are Forever", "With Russia, With Love", and "Dr. No".
When "Dr. No" was published, Movie producers Albert Broccoli and Harry Salzman were
where interested in making the book into a movie. They approached Ian with a proposition
to make "Dr. No" into a movie. If the movie did well they would produce other "Bond" movies.
During the negotiations and production of "Dr. No" Ian completed "Goldfinger", "For Your
Eyes Only", "Octa*censored*", and "The Spy Who Loved Me". The movie, "Dr. No" was a
huge hit and Ian had the feeling that he finally reached the success that he hoped to achieve
over his father and brother. Other movies were made while Ian Fleming continued to write.
That is until 1964 when Ian Fleming died of a fatal heart attack while at Royal St. Georges
Golf Club. Ian Fleming was a man of many visions, and talents. It wasn't until after his death
that James Bond was a British, sexual, and heroic icon. A total of 20 "Bond Films" have
been made so far. Even more James Bond books have been written. Ian Fleming will live on
with infamy and legend.
Bruce A. Rosenberg "Ian Fleming". Boston: United Publishing, 1981
Lycett "Ian Fleming: The Man Behind James Bond" Kansas City: Universal Press, 1995
John Cork "The Life of Ian Fleming (1908-1964)"
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