Ian Fleming

Author, Journalist
While some believed that author Ian Fleming must have lived a life as exciting and adventurous as his famed literary creation, James Bond, nothing could have been further from the truth. Though certain lines of fact and ... Read more »
Born: 05/27/1908 in Mayfair, London, England, GB

Filmography

Writer (23)

Skyfall 2012 (Movie)

(from characters) (Source Material)

Quantum of Solace 2008 (Movie)

(from characters) (Source Material)

Casino Royale 2006 (Movie)

(from novel: "Casino Royale") (Source Material)

Die Another Day 2002 (Movie)

(from characters) (Source Material)

Tomorrow Never Dies 1997 (Movie)

(Characters as Source Material)

Goldeneye 1995 (Movie)

(Characters as Source Material)

The Living Daylights 1987 (Movie)

(From Story)

A View to a Kill 1985 (Movie)

from character (Characters as Source Material)

Never Say Never Again 1983 (Movie)

("Thunderball") (Source Material (from novel))

Octopussy 1983 (Movie)

From Stories("Octopussy" and "The Property of a Lady") (From Story)

For Your Eyes Only 1981 (Movie)

(From Story)

Moonraker 1979 (Movie)

("Moonraker") (Source Material (from novel))

The Spy Who Loved Me 1977 (Movie)

(Source Material (from novel))

The Man With the Golden Gun 1974 (Movie)

(Source Material (from novel))

Live and Let Die 1973 (Movie)

(Source Material (from novel))

Diamonds Are Forever 1971 (Movie)

("Diamonds Are Forever") (From Story)

On Her Majesty's Secret Service 1969 (Movie)

("On Her Majesty's Secret Service") (Source Material (from novel))

Casino Royale 1967 (Movie)

("Casino Royale") (Source Material (from novel))

You Only Live Twice 1967 (Movie)

("You Only Live Twice") (Source Material (from novel))

Thunderball 1965 (Movie)

(From Story)

From Russia With Love 1964 (Movie)

("From Russia With Love") (Source Material (from novel))

Goldfinger 1964 (Movie)

("Goldfinger") (Source Material (from novel))

Dr. No 1963 (Movie)

("Dr No") (Source Material (from novel))
Other (4)

A View to a Kill 1985 (Movie)

from title (Other)

Octopussy 1983 (Movie)

from stories("Octopussy" "The Property of a Lady") (Other)

For Your Eyes Only 1981 (Movie)

from stories("For Your Eyes Only" "Risco") (Other)

The Spy Who Loved Me 1977 (Movie)

from title (Other)

Biography

While some believed that author Ian Fleming must have lived a life as exciting and adventurous as his famed literary creation, James Bond, nothing could have been further from the truth. Though certain lines of fact and fiction were definitely blurred - both character and author were consummate womanizers, though the latter was far more sadomasochistic - Fleming was a far cry from the super agent secretly dispatched to take care of Britain's more complicated Cold War problems. Even Fleming's own involvement with an intelligence agency during World War II was nothing more than glorified desk work. Fleming's life was a touch eccentric, however, what with his many affairs with women, late nights in French casinos and a relentless diet of booze and cigarettes. But it was an intense desire to live up to expectations far exceeding his abilities - coupled with an incredible thirst for high-adventure - that prompted the grandson of a Scottish financier to create the ruthless secret agent that graced the pages of his pulp novels in the 1950s. If nothing else, Fleming lived a vicarious life through Bond, one that gave the author an escape from the realization that his own existence was rather mundane.

Fleming was born on May 28, 1908 in London, England, the son of a wealthy Edwardian gentleman who became a Conservative MP for South Oxfordshire and later died in World War I. His mother, an overbearing woman more enamored with his more talented and intellectually superior brother, Peter, shuffled Fleming off to various schools, usually because of a social faux pas or fall from grace. He attended Eton College where he excelled only at sports, but was later expelled for carrying on with a maid. Fleming was shipped off to Sandhurst - England's equivalent to West Point - but quietly left on his own volition, amidst rumors he had gotten the clap from a prostitute. Sent away to Munich in 1929 by his mother to study German, Fleming continued his philandering while remaining seemingly oblivious to the political turmoil enveloping the nation. After failing the entrance exam for the Foreign Office - he scored an abysmal twenty percent - Fleming went to Switzerland and Geneva before securing a job through family connections at Reuters, which stationed him as a sub-editor and journalist in Moscow and Berlin.

Returning to native England, Fleming worked as a stockbroker with Rowe and Pitman in Bishopsgate. When war broke out in 1939, Fleming once again used family connections to secure a job as the personal assistant to Rear Admiral John Godfrey, the Director of Naval Intelligence of the Royal Navy. Finally, the young man-about-town found something at which he could excel. Though stuck behind a desk in un-Bond-like fashion, Fleming nonetheless concocted elaborate and often dangerous operations, including a plan to capture the naval version of the Wehrmacht's famed Enigma encoder. He also headed a clandestine unit that was involved in black bag operations - lock-picking, unarmed combat and the like - but again, his duties were administrative, frustrating the young man who craved to be active in the field. Though he later claimed privately to friends that he once killed a secret agent while on a secret mission - his method of killing the man changed over time - Fleming failed to partake in any of the operations he helped to create. His one meaningful contribution - a blueprint for the Office of Special Services, which later became the CIA - went underappreciated throughout his life and postmortem celebrity.

Once the war was over, Fleming returned to his philandering, lay-about ways. He landed a plum assignment as Foreign Manager for The Sunday Times; a position he held for 12 years. Using his charm, Fleming managed to finagle three months vacation from The Times, which he spent at a house he named Goldeneye (after an operation he drafted to protect Gibraltar during the war) in an idyllic spot on the north shore of Jamaica. While his philandering ways continued unabated, Fleming did maintain a steady affair with Lady Ann Rothermere, the striking and ambitious wife of Irishman Lord O'Neil, who was killed in the war. She later married the wealthy proprietor of The Daily Mail, Viscount Rothermere, while maintaining her affair with Fleming. The two met sometime in 1935 and carried on a not-so-clandestine relationship until 1952 when, pregnant with Fleming's second child (their first died shortly after birth), Ann divorced Rothermere and moved into Goldeneye. The not-so-happy couple married soon after, causing Fleming great stress over losing his bachelorhood.

It was said by Fleming himself that he began writing at age 43 as a way to alleviate the doom caused by his nuptials. The reality, however, told a different story - Fleming had been planning an espionage novel for some time, even to the point of boasting to colleagues that he would write "the spy novel to end all spy novels." And so he began in 1952 at Goldeneye, where he churned out 2000 words a day for weeks at a time, completing Casino Royale - the first of many stories starring James Bond - in record time. Fleming's wartime experience, and the experiences of brother Peter, who explored the world as a travel writer, served him well. Fleming also incorporated his extensive list of female conquests into his new creation, though he portrayed Bond as being more protective of woman - perhaps an apology for the author's own sadomasochistic tendencies. In the process of fulfilling his boast of ending the spy novel, Fleming instead recreated the archetypal hero with James Bond, a cold, calculating assassin sent on Her Majesty's secret service to aid the Kingdom in its national interest.

Fleming followed up Casino Royale with 11 more novels and nine short stories, many of which were to become familiar to later generations as James Bond movies - Live and Let Die, Diamonds Are Forever, Moonraker and For Your Eyes Only being a few of the titles to turn Fleming into a major celebrity. All the books sold well - millions of copies worldwide were purchased over the several decades following his death - though it took several years after the release of Casino Royale to catch on. But he became an international celebrity despite himself, even impressing President John F. Kennedy, who in 1961, proclaimed that From Russia With Love was one of his 10 favorite books. By the seventh or so novel, however, Fleming began running out of steam, becoming bored with writing about his "cardboard dummy." Fleming did branch out in 1964 with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, a long-revered set of children's stories about a wacky inventor who creates a super car that can float and fly, taking his children on several adventures. But by then it was too late for change.

Fleming had longed to see Bond make it to film and got his wish when Casino Royale was turned into an hour-long program on American television. Then in 1961, producers Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli obtained the rights to all but two of Fleming's books. Production began for the first of many Bond films, "Dr. No" (1962), with Scotsman Sean Connery in the role - not the author's first choice (which was David Niven), but one he accepted. Fleming got the chance to see only one more Bond film, "From Russia With Love" (1963), adapted from his 1957 novel - the author's health, which was under assault from years of heavy smoking and drinking, rapidly deteriorated. He died from a heart attack on Aug. 12, 1964, just weeks before the third Bond film, "Goldfinger" (1964), was released and at a time when Bond paperbacks were going through multiple printings, earning Fleming approximately $3 million a year.

In the decades since Fleming's death in 1964, James Bond's stature - both as a cultural icon and a mythic hero - reached unparalleled heights. One would have been hard-pressed to find someone in the world who had not seen a Bond film. But with increased popularity came caricature - the once-brutal hero of the pulp novels became a campy super spy enamored of high-tech gadgets and prone to cheeky one-liners. As Bond movies were churned out like burgers at McDonald's - 21 films by 2006 - the character himself changed, according to the actor playing the role at the time. Where Connery was charming and debonair, his one-time successor, George Lazenby, was quiet and forgotten. Following Lazenby was British actor Roger Moore, who introduced a sly camp to the role, particularly in his encounters with famed henchman Jaws (Richard Kiel). Moore gave way to Timothy Dalton in 1986, who gave Bond a darker, more serious edge. Dalton quickly handed the 007 reigns to the suave Pierce Brosnan, whose four turns revitalized an ailing franchise. After Brosnan's tenure ended in 2002, British actor Daniel Craig assumed the mantle in 2005, returning the Bond character to Fleming's original vision - that of a cold, complex and almost sadistic assassin.

Relationships

Anne Fleming

Wife
was married when they began an affair married after she became pregnant with their son

Mike Fleming Sound

Brother
younger

Valentine Fleming

Father
member of Parliament died in the Great War, 8 days shy of Ian's 9th birthday Winston Churchill wrote the obituary for The Times

Evelyn Fleming

Mother

James Fleming Props

Nephew
son of Richard born c. 1944

Caspar Fleming

Son
born c. 1952 mother, Anne Fleming died from a suicidal drug overdose in 1975

Peter Fleming

Brother
older

Richard Fleming

Brother
younger

Amaryllis Fleming

Half-Sister
illegitimate half-sister

Robert Fleming

Grandfather
founder of the Scottish American Investment Trust and of merchant bank Robert Fleming & Co. (since 2000 part of Chase Manhattan)

Christopher Lee Actor

Step-Cousin

EDUCATION

Eton College

won the Victor Ludorum at Eton two years running; left before graduation over an incident involving a girl

University of Geneva

studied French

Munich University

continued German studies

studied German in Kitzbühel, Austria, at a small private establishment run by the Adlerian disciples, Ernan Forbes Dennis and his American wife, the novelist Phyllis Bottome

Royal Military Academy Sandhurst

departed from Sandhurst early

Milestones

1964

Wrote children's novel Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

1963

Based on the most popular novel to date, saw his last Bond film released "From Russia with Love"

1962

Published tenth novel in the James Bond series The Spy Who Loved Me, written in the first person perspective of Vivienne Michel, the female protagonist, whom Fleming credited as co-author

1961

Sold the film rights of all current and future James Bond novels and short stories; co-produced a film version of "Dr. No" (1962)

1955

Published the article "The Great Riot of Istanbul," in the Sunday Times, on Sept. 11, 1955, just days after the Istanbul Pogroms, when ethnic Greeks were attacked by a Turkish mob

1953

Published first novel Casino Royale, which introduced the character of James Bond

1940

Wrote a memorandum about the structure and functions of a secret service organization; parts of this memorandum were later used in the official charter for the OSS (dissolved after World War II and was replaced with the Central Intelligence Agency)

Worked as a sub-editor and journalist for Reuters news service

At the start of WWII, recruited by Rear Admiral John Godfrey, Director of Naval Intelligence of the Royal Navy, as his personal assistant

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