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Ian Fleming. Photo courtesy of the Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby's.
“The name’s Bond. James Bond.”
Arguably one of the most instantly recognisable and iconic lines in popular culture today, spawned by a quintessentially British figure – men want to be him, women want to be with him. The 12th August marks 52 years since the passing of James Bond creator, Ian Fleming, a legacy that has lived on decades after his passing.
Born on May 28th 1908 in London to Valentine and Evelyn Fleming, Ian Lancaster Fleming was one of four children, all of which were boys. His father, Valentine, served in British Parliament up until the First World War broke out in 1914, in which he was sadly killed when Ian was just 9 years old. Fleming studied at one of the most prestigious schools in the country, Eton College, before unknowingly sowing the seeds of his legacy at elite military academy, Sandhurst. After a brief period working for the Reuters news company, Ian turned his sights onto the high finance industry until 1939, when world events changed his life once again.
Complete Set of 14 "James Bond" Books by Ian Fleming
Throughout the course of The Second World War, Fleming honed his craft in the art of espionage, where he received a commission in the Royal Navy and worked for the British Naval Intelligence. Here, he assisted the director of Naval Intelligence, Admiral John Godfrey, a man who is believed to have been the inspiration for James Bond’s boss, ‘M.’ Working closely alongside Godfrey, Fleming often found himself clued up on Britain’s winning efforts during the war. He regularly travelled overseas, visiting the United States of America and Jamaica amongst others, the latter which left an impression on the British author. It’s widely believed that the British intelligence Fleming encountered shaped and developed a number of the James Bond novels, although Fleming was sworn to secrecy by the British government.
This military experience at the very least inspired Fleming’s stories of Siberian escapes and Machiavellian double agents, and in 1953, after a year spent writing while on holiday at his home in Jamaica, which he affectionately named ‘Goldeneye’ after a military operation, Fleming’s first novel was published – Casino Royale. This unfortunately was met with little response, however in the years that followed, Fleming continued to scribe Bond’s legacy across Live and Let Die, Moonraker and Diamonds are Forever, which were soon eagerly purchased by readers across the country, encapsulated by deadly intrigue, beautiful women, fast cars and high tech gadgets.
Cubby Broccoli, Sean Connery, Ian Fleming and Harry Saltzman behind the scenes on "Dr. No" (1962)
Sean Connery as James Bond cover
It’s reported that both former US President John F Kennedy and Prince Philip were fans of Fleming’s espionage excitement. Throughout his literary career, Fleming produced 12 Bond novels and a number of short stories featuring James Bond, and in 1962, witnessed his creations brought to life on the big screen in the form of Dr No, where the man himself was portrayed by Sean Connery. Assisted by Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli, James Bond became the icon in one of the longest running film franchises in the history of cinema, and would later be portrayed by a vast number of actors including Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig, remaining a hot topic in film discussions around the world. Who will play James Bond next? Tom Hiddleston? Idris Elba? Tom Hardy? The possibilities are endless.
Sadly, in the same year Fleming suffered his first serious heart attack and would never fully recover. On August 12, 1964, Fleming died in hospital in Canterbury aged 56 after suffering another heart attack, leaving behind a legacy spanning across generations.
James Bond actors left to right; Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig
James Bond cover. Photo courtesy of the007dossier.com
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