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Ian Fleming (1908 - 1964)

Date of Birth: 28 May 1908
Place of Birth: London, England, UK
Date of Death: 12 August 1964 (from a heart attack)
Place of Death: Canterbury, Kent, England, UK
Also Known As: Ian Lancaster Fleming (full name)

BIOGRAPHY

Best known as the creator of James Bond, Ian Fleming's own life provided some of the background for his most famous creation. Hailing from a wealthy and privileged background (he counted among his relatives cellist Amaryllis Fleming, to whom he was half-brother, and his cousin Christopher Lee), Fleming was naturally afforded the best education money could buy, attending Eton and the Sandhurst military academy.

It was while at school in Kitzbuhel, Austria, that his love and talent for writing began to emerge, though it wasn't his original intention to become a writer. He had planned to join the Foreign Service, but failed to meet the entrance requirements and instead took up a post as a journalist at the Reuters news agency. He proved his worth covering a high profile case in the Soviet Union where a number of Royal Engineers were put on trial facing espionage charges.

A short stint working for his family's bank was curtailed by the outbreak of World War II, whereupon he was recruited by British Naval Intelligence. It seemed that, even more so than writing, Fleming had found his true calling - he proved an exceptional officer and soon found himself promoted to the rank of Commander. It wasn't until a decade after his death that the extent of Fleming's wartime intelligence work emerged - it transpired that he was close colleague of Sir William Stevenson, the head of the extremely secretive Ultra Network which, in 1939, had cracked the Nazi's Enigma code. Fleming had been a part of that team whose work decisively changed the course of the war.

While still with Naval Intelligence, Fleming had visited Jamaica in 1944 and fell in love with the island. His friend Ivar Bryce was charged with finding Fleming a suitable property and turned up a beach front property that Fleming would eventually name Goldeneye.

The war over, Fleming's thoughts of employment turned elsewhere and within two years he was working for the British newspaper magnate Lord Kemsley. Fleming had been hired to manage the foreign news sections of several of Kemsley's papers but had only accepted the position on the proviso that he be granted a two month holiday each year which, naturally, he planned to spend at Goldeneye.

Fleming kept his writing skills up to scratch by penning the odd travel article for Horizon magazine, but it was his impending marriage to Lady Anne Rothermere that seems to have acted as the catalyst for Fleming's leap into full time writing. With the wedding day just a few weeks away, Fleming decided that the time had come to start his long-considered novel set in the tropics. He decided to base the story on his wartime experiences in Naval Intelligence and set about crafting a thriller about a British secret service agent whose name he found from the author of a book on ornithology - Birds of the West Indies by one James Bond.

The book, Casino Royale, was an immediate success and led Fleming to pen another eleven James Bond adventures as well as two collections of short stories. He also found time to write one non-Bond novel, the children's classic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and a collection of essays, Thrilling Cities which also included the 1964 Bond short story 007 in New York.

Fleming died in August 1964 at the age of just 56, just at the time that his greatest creation was achieving phenomena status around the world in the form of Sean Connery, the big-screen's first James Bond.

* = television

GENRE FILMOGRAPHY

1962
Dr No (novel)

1963
From Russia with Love (novel; performer (man standing outside train - uncredited))

1964
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (consultant - uncredited)

Goldfinger (novel)

1965
Thunderball (novel)

1967
Casino Royale (novel)

You Only Live Twice (novel)

1968
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (novel)

1969
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (novel)

1970
Omnibus: Ian Fleming

1971
Diamonds Are Forever (novel)

1973
Live and Let Die (novel)

1974
The Man with the Golden Gun (novel)

1977
The Spy Who Loved Me (novel)

1979
Moonraker (novel)

1981
For Your Eyes Only (stories (For Your Eyes Only; Risico))

1983
Never Say Never Again (story)

Octopussy (stories (Octopussy; The Property of a Lady))

1985
A View to a Kill (story)

1987
The Living Daylights (story)

1989
Licence to Kill (characters; novel (Live and Let Die); story (The Hildebrand Rarity))

1995
The Making of Thunderball (archive footage)

Goldeneye (characters)

1997
Tomorrow Never Dies (characters)

1999
The World Is Not Enough (characters)

The James Bond Story (archive footage) *

2002
Die Another Day (characters)

2006
Casino Royale

NO DATE
The Adventures of James Bond Jr (character) *

NON-GENRE FILMOGRAPHY

1966
Poppies Are Also Flowers (story)

1989
Goldeneye: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming (subject of film) *

1990
The Secret Life of Ian Fleming (subject of film) *

BIBLIOGRAPHY

NOVELS

1952
Casino Royale

1953
Live and Let Die

1954
Diamonds are Forever

1955
Moonraker

1956
From Russia, With Love

1958
Dr No

1959
Goldfinger

1960
The Spy Who Loved Me

1962
Thunderball

1963
On Her Majesty's Secret Service

1964
You Only Live Twice

1965
The Man With The Golden Gun

NO DATE
Chitty Chitty Bang-Bang

SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS

1960
For Your Eyes Only (includes: For Your Eyes Only; View to a Kill; Risico)

1964
Octopussy (includes: Octopussy; The Living Daylights; Property of a Lady)

NON-FICTION

1964
Thrilling Cities (collection of essays; also includes the short story 007 in New York)

NO DATE
The Diamond Smugglers

BIOGRAPHIES

The Life of Ian Fleming by John Pearson (1986 - London: Jonathon Cape Ltd)
Ian Fleming by Andrew Lycett (Weidenfeld and Nicholson)

LINKS

SEE ALSO
James Bond

REFERENCES

MAGAZINES

Vox (Hungary) no.31 (November 1999) p.28
article

Empire no.78 (1995) p.88
article (by Ian Nathan)

BOOKS

The Complete James Bond Movie Encyclopedia (1st edition) pp.134 - 138
illustrated short biography (by Steven Jay Rubin)

The James Bond Bedside Companion pp.41-55
article (by Raymond Benson)

 


Last Updated: 1 January, 2009

 


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