Ian Fleming, born May 28, 1908, is a 20th Century author best known for creating the James Bond series. Alongside three brothers, Fleming grew up in a particularly influential family in an affluent area of London as his father Valentine Fleming served in Parliament. Sadly, Ian was just 9-years-old when his father died in World War I, having chosen to fight for his country.
Following his father’s unfortunate death, Fleming went on to attend Eton College, by far one of the top schools in all of Britain, and Sandhurst, an elite military academy. After graduating, he briefly worked at Reuters news agency before attempting a career in high finance. However, as World War II began it became clear that Fleming’s interests lay somewhere else.
Throughout the war, Fleming paid close attention to the role of espionage in world conflict. He was able to do this after receiving a commission in the Royal Navy and work in British Naval Intelligence before eventually becoming the assistant to Admiral John Godfrey, director of Naval Intelligence. During this role, Fleming was given private information on how Britain planned to win the war, travelling around the world on numerous occasions to manage intelligence operations.
Almost immediately after the war ended, Fleming began writing a novel using all the experience he had garnered over the last decade. The influence is clear throughout the James Bond novels, even down to the inspiration behind the character. For instance, ‘M’ is clearly modelled after Fleming’s own boss Admiral Godfrey. As to whether the plots of James Bond books were inspired by true events we will never know, as Fleming was sworn to secrecy.
The series began in 1953, with the release of Casino Royale. Although Casino Royale received little attention at the time, it went on to inspire numerous movie adaptations and has become one of the best-known instalments in the franchise. It has everything; suspense, thrill, triumph and, according to online casino Betway, an unforgettable game of baccarat. Fleming soon released a sequel to his first novel in 1954, entitled Live and Let Die, which was swiftly followed by both Moonraker and Diamonds Are Forever.
As the tales kept on coming, more and more readers began picking up copies to see what their favourite bad guy-busting, women-wooing, card-playing British spy was up to. It’s even rumoured that American president John F. Kennedy was one of Fleming’s avid readers, alongside Prince Philip. In total, Fleming released 12 James Bond novels as well as a number of short stories based on the spy. He even saw Sean Connery bring his beloved character life in 1962’s Dr. No. It’s even possible that Fleming’s input in this first Bond movie helped cement Bond as the protagonist in one of the world’s most famous, lengthy film franchises, which has starred the likes of Daniel Craig, Pierce Brosnan and Roger Moore.
To this day, new generations of authors continue Fleming’s legacy by publishing new chapters in the James Bond story. On the official Ian Fleming website, alongside the classic tales penned by the author himself, there are new series, such as Young Bond written by Steven Cole, which many readers now consider canon. Moneypenny even has her own spin-off created by Kate Westbrook, in addition to numerous graphic novels created by some of the most talented illustrators and authors of our time including Andy Diggle, Luca Caslanguida and Van Jensen. Arguably the most impressive modern series though is the continuation of Bond, which already features 28 accepted novels by a number of well-known authors such as John Gardener, Sebastian Faulks and Anthony Horowitz.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Of course, avid readers will know that the James Bond novels aren’t Fleming’s only popular releases. Sometime before the release of the first James Bond novel, Fleming had married his beloved wife Anne Rothermere. In 1952, the couple had welcomed their only child Caspar into the world. It was for his only son that Fleming wrote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car.
Released on October 22, 1964, and illustrated by John Burningham, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is the last book Fleming ever wrote, though he did not live to see it published. It is said that Fleming took his inspiration for the 48-page story from a series of aero-engined cars created by Louis Zborowski at Higham Park in the early 1920s, no doubt wanting to inspire his young son once the magnificent author passed away.
Like the James Bond series, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was adapted into a film, which was released in 1968, having been penned by Roald Dahl and Ken Hughes. It also inspired a musical, produced by Albert R. Broccoli, pitched as “The Most Fantasmagorical stage musical in the history of everything”.
Hopefully, Fleming would have enjoyed the musical thoroughly, as well as the numerous spin-off novels and movies that his James Bond series has received. It truly is a credit to him that so many new generations want to pick up his novels and propel them forward into the future, despite the original author no longer being with us.
References & Sources
Bond – Johan Oomen on flickr – Some Rights Reserved
Guest Author Bio
Matthew Wright is a content editor who graduated from Kings College in London. A writer by day and reader by night, he enjoys cooking and cycling on the weekends.