Great Britain has produced some of the world’s most renowned authors over the centuries. From Jane Austen to J.K Rowling there is a British book to suit all every taste in literature; however this article focuses on one of the most notorious British characters ever to have flirted with paper, the infamous James Bond otherwise known as 007.The story of the British secret service agent came from the mind of Ian Fleming (1908-1964).
Fleming was a bit of a character in himself and somewhat lived the legacy of Bond before bringing him to life for the public on paper. A previously hidden and shadowed world. Fleming opened the door to the previously hidden life style of spies.
Born in London Mayfair in 1908 Fleming was not only heir to an impressive ancestry, he was surrounded by the elite of British society including the successful Scottish investment Banker Robert Fleming. His Father was killed when the author to be was only nine, in Ypres in May of 1917 whilst serving with her Majesties Oxfordshire Hussars in World War I, his obituary written by his comrade at the time, Winston Churchill.
Brought up in Scotland, Fleming made the move south with his siblings to be educated at the prestigious Eton college in England. There he excelled in athletics, winning various cups and the title of Victor Ludorum twice. He continued his studies abroad in Austria, Germany and Geneva. This gave Fleming skills in language which would later put him in a prime position in excel in his future career.
He made attempts to pursue careers with both the army and the foreign office but when his applications were unsuccessful in he decided upon a career in journalism with Reuters News. This position allowed him to hone basic writing skills to those of a master story teller which would result in book sales long after his death. Craving glamour and cash lead to a decision to make a change in his occupation.
He became a stockbroker with Rowe and Pitman; over his time here he gained an introduction to the Bond lifestyle he describes in his books. A young bachelor at the time he swathed his way through woman, played golf in Kent and gambled in Le Touquet.
After his time as an unsuccessful stockbroker, Fleming was hand-picked for one of the most influential moves in his career, to become Lieutenant Commander RNVR of the Naval Intelligence division by the director of naval intelligence. He furthered himself into the sector entering room 39 and becoming the official personal assistant to Admiral John Godfrey.
Fleming was highlighted in all sectors as an advantage to the British cause, his skills in organisation and socialite aspects played part in his lengthy list of achievements, he worked with various sectors of the UK military unit such as the Political Warfare Executive, the Joint Intelligence Committee, Special Operations Executive and the Secret Intelligence Service.
He even acted as a liaison between the Admiralty and Bletchley Park keeping communication between the two over the Enigma codebreaking (an essential part in winning the war).
Admired by all and praised for his work Fleming had found a position that had pulled him success but it had also given him all the information required which would turn him into a house hold name.
In 1952 he completed his debut novel and the first Bond book “Casino Royal”. The manuscript was sent to a friend whom recommended it to publisher Jonathan Cape and the first of Bonds escapades was published one year later in 1953.
Fleming created a whole new point of view on the secret service and brought a curious underhand society to life in an new and interesting way. He challenged the oath he had sworn on entering the Secret Service in the interests of entertainment; something Britain is truly an expert at, from the Punk era to Pride and Prejudice.
He wrote in total thirteen books on Bond which met both critical and commercial success thereby creating an icon for Britain and British literature. He passed away in 1964 from heart disease, sadly on his son’s birthday.
Ian Fleming inspired the hearts of millions, and his story’s will be told and played across screen for years to come. Be British. Be Bond.