Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming, the second of four sons of Valentine Fleming (1882–1917) and Evelyn Beatrice Ste Croix (1885–1964), was born on 28th May, 1908. His grandfather was Robert Fleming, an extremely wealthy banker. The family lived at Braziers Park, a large house at Ipsden in Oxfordshire.

Ian's father was active in the Conservative Party and in 1910 he became the member of the House of Commons for South Oxfordshire. A fellow member of parliament, Winston Churchill, pointed out that Fleming was "one of those younger Conservatives who easily and naturally combine loyalty to party ties with a broad liberal outlook upon affairs and a total absence of class prejudice... He was a man of thoughtful and tolerant opinions, which were not the less strongly or clearly held because they were not loudly or frequently asserted.... He could not share the extravagant passions with which the rival parties confronted each other. He felt that neither was wholly right in policy and that both were wrong in mood." On the outbreak of the First World War Fleming joined the Queen's Own Oxfordshire Hussars.

Fleming was educated at Durnford Preparatory School and in 1917 he met Ivar Bryce on a beach in Cornwall: "The fortress builders generously invited me to join them, and I discovered that their names were Peter, Ian, Richard and Michael, in that order. The leaders were Ian and Peter, and I gladly carried out their exact and exacting orders. They were natural leaders of men, both of them, as later history was to prove, and it speaks well for them all that there was room for both Peter and Ian in the platoon."

In May 1917 Fleming heard news that his father, Valentine Fleming, had been killed while fighting on the Western Front. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Order. Fleming went to Eton College but as his biographer, Andrew Lycett, has pointed out: "At Eton he showed little academic potential, directing his energies into athletics, becoming victor ludorum two years in succession, and into school journalism."

While at Eton he became a close friend of Ivar Bryce. He purchased a Douglas motorbike and used this vehicle for trips around Windsor. He also took Fleming on the bike to visit the British Empire Exhibition in London. They also published a magazine, The Wyvern , together. Fleming used mother's contacts to persuade Augustus John and Edwin Lutyens, to contribute drawings. The magazine also published a poem by Vita Sackville-West. The editors showed their right-wing opinions by publishing an article in praise of the British Fascisti Party. It argued that its "primary intention is to counteract the present and every-growning trend towards revolution... it is of the utmost importance that centres should be started in the universities and in our public schools".

His mother decided he was unlikely to follow his brother, Peter Fleming to Oxford University, and arranged for him to attend the Sandhurst Royal Military College. However, he was not suited to military discipline and left without a commission in 1927, following an incident with a woman in which, to his mother's horror, he managed to contract a venereal disease.

His mother, Eve Fleming inherited her husband's large estate in trust, making her very wealthy. This did come with conditions that stated she would lose this money if she remarried. She became the mistress of painter Augustus John with whom she had a daughter, the cellist Amaryllis Fleming.

Fleming was sent to study in Kitzbühel, Austria, where he met Ernan Forbes Dennis, a former British spy turned educationist, and his wife, Phyllis Bottome, an established novelist. It was while staying with the couple that he first considered a career as a writer. Fleming later wrote to Phyllis: "My life with you both is one of my most cherished memories, and heaven knows where I should be today without Ernan."

After studying briefly at the universities in Munich and Geneva, Fleming considered becoming a diplomat but he failed the competitive examination for the Foreign Office. His mother used her contacts to get him work as a journalist. This included reporting on the trial of six engineers working for a British company, Metropolitan-Vickers, who had been accused of spying in the Soviet Union. While in Moscow he attempted to get an interview with Joseph Stalin. After this rejection he returned to London.

In August 1935 Fleming met Muriel Wright while on holiday at Kitzbühel. Over the next four years they spent a great deal of time together. Fleming was dazzled by her looks but did not find her very stimulating company and continued to have relationships with other women, this included Mary Pakenham and Ann O'Neill, the wife of Shane Edward Robert O'Neill. Pakenham later recalled that he had two main topics of conversation - himself and sex: "He was always trying to show me obscene pictures of one sort or another. No one I have known has had sex so much on the brain as Ian in those days." Muriel's brother, Fitzherbert Wright, heard about the way Fleming was treating his sister and arrived at Ian's flat with a horsewhip. He was not there as he had taken Muriel to Brighton for the weekend.

Eve Fleming insisted her son sought a career in the family business of banking. He worked briefly for a small bank before joined Rowe and Pitman, a leading firm of stockbrokers. He hated the work and on the outbreak of the Second World War a family friend, the Governor of the Bank of England, Montagu Norman, arranged for Fleming to join the naval intelligence division as personal assistant to Admiral John Godfrey, the director of naval intelligence.

According to the author of Ian Fleming (1996): "With his charm, social contacts, and gift for languages, Fleming proved an excellent appointment. Working from the Admiralty's Room 39, he showed a hitherto unacknowledged talent for administration, and was quickly promoted from lieutenant to commander. He liaised on behalf of the director of naval intelligence with the other secret services. One of few people given access to Ultra intelligence, he was responsible for the navy's input into anti-German black propaganda."

It has been claimed that Fleming was involved in the plot to lure Rudolf Hess to Britain. Richard Deacon, the author of Spyclopaedia: The Comprehensive Handbook of Espionage (1987), has argued: "The truth is that a number of wartime intelligence coups credited to other people were really manipulated by Fleming. It was he who originated the scheme for using astrologers to lure Rudolf Hess to Britain. Fleming's contract in Switzerland succeeded in planting on Hess an astrologer who was also a British agent. To ensure that the theme of the plot was worked into a conventional horoscope the Swiss contract arranged for two horoscopes of Hess to be obtained from astrologers known to Hess personally so that the faked horoscope would not be suspiciously different from those of the others."

Fleming worked with Colonel Bill Donovan, the special representative of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, on intelligence co-operation between London and Washington before Pearl Harbor. Fleming met William Stephenson and Ernest Cuneo in New York City in the summer of 1940. Fleming criticised Admiral Ernest King, Chief of US naval operations for not supporting the Russian convoys forcefully enough. Cuneo responded by claiming that Fleming was only a junior officer who was unlikely to know enough about the subject. Fleming commented: "Do you question my bona fides?" Fleming asked angrily. "No, only your patently limited judgement." Despite this exchange the two men soon became close friends.

Cuneo described Fleming as having the appearance of a lightweight boxer. It was not only his broken nose but the way he carried himself: "He did not rest his weight on his left leg; he distributed it, his left foot and his shoulders slightly forward." Cuneo liked Fleming's "steely patriotism" and told General William Donovan that he was a typical English agent: "England was not a country but a religion, and that where England was concerned, every Englishman was a Jesuit who believed the end justified the means." In May 1941 Fleming accompanied Admiral John Godfrey to America, staying to help write a blueprint for the Office of Co-ordinator of Information (the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency).

During the Second World War Fleming's great friend, Ivar Bryce worked as an SIS agent attached to William Stephenson in New York City. It is claimed that based in Jamaica (his wife Sheila, owned Bellevue, one of the most important houses on the island), Bryce ran dangerous missions into Latin America. Fleming visited Bryce in 1941 and told him that: "When we have won this blasted war, I am going to live in Jamaica. Just live in Jamaica and lap it up, and swim in the sea and write books."

In 1942 Fleming was instrumental in forming a unit of commandos, known as 30 Commando Assault Unit (30AU), a group of specialist intelligence troops, trained by the Special Operations Executive (SOE). The unit was based on a German group headed by Otto Skorzeny, who had undertaken similar activities for Nazi Germany. The unit was initially deployed for the first time during the Dieppe Raid in August 1942, and then took part in the Operation Torch landings in November 1942. The unit went on to serve in Norway, Sicily, Italy, and Corsica between 1942–1943. In June 1944 they took part in the D-Day landings, with the objective of capturing a German radar station at Douvres-la-Delivrande.

During the war, Fleming's girlfriend, Muriel Wright became an air raid warden in Belgravia. However, according to a friend she found the uniform unflattering. She now became a small team of despatch riders at the Admiralty who roared around London on BSA motorcycles. Muriel was killed during an air raid in March 1944. Andrew Lycett, the author of Ian Fleming (1996) has pointed out: "All such casualties are, by definition, unlucky, but she was particularly so, because the structure of her new flat at 9 Eaton Terrace Mews was left intact. She died instantly when a piece of masonry flew in through a window and struck her full on the head. Because there was no obvious damage, no one thought to look for the injured or dead; it was only after her chow, Pushkin, was seen whimpering outside that a search was made. As her only known contact, Ian was called to identify her body, still in a nightdress. Afterwards he walked round to the Dorchester and made his way to Esmond and Ann's room. Without saying a word he poured himself a large glass of whisky, and remained silent. He was immediately consumed with grief and guilt at the cavalier way he had treated her." His friend, Dunstan Curtis, commented: "The trouble with Ian is that you have to get yourself killed before he feels anything."

Ian Fleming was also having an affair with Ann O'Neill, the wife of Lieutenant Colonel Shane Edward Robert O'Neill. He was killed in Italy in October 1944. Although she then went on to marry Esmond Cecil Harmsworth, heir to Lord Rothermere, the owner of The Daily Mail, Fleming continued to see Ann on a regular basis.

After the war Fleming joined the Kemsley Newspaper Group as foreign manager. His friend, Ivar Bryce, helped Fleming find a holiday home and twelve acres of land just outside of Oracabessa. It included a strip of white sand on a lovely part of the coast. Fleming decided to call the house, Goldeneye, after his wartime project in Spain, Operation Goldeneye. Their former boss, William Stephenson, also had a house on the island overlooking Montego Bay. Stephenson had set up the British-American-Canadian-Corporation (later called the World Commerce Corporation), a secret service front company which specialized in trading goods with developing countries. William Torbitt has claimed that it was "originally designed to fill the void left by the break-up of the big German cartels which Stephenson himself had done much to destroy."

Fleming continued her affair with Ann Harmsworth. She told her husband she was staying with Fleming's neighbour, Noël Coward. Ann wrote to Fleming in 1947 after one of her visits: "It was so short and so full of happiness, and I am afraid I loved cooking for you and sleeping beside you and being whipped by you... I don't think I have ever loved like this before." Fleming replied: "All the love I have for you has grown out of me because you made it grow. Without you I would still be hard and dead and cold and quite unable to write this childish letter, full of love and jealousies and adolescence." In 1948 Ann gave birth to his daughter, Mary, who lived only a few hours.

Fleming negotiated a favourable contract with Kemsley Newspaper Group that allowed him to take three months' holiday every winter in Jamaica. Fleming loved the time he spent at Goldeneye: "Every exploration and every dive results in some fresh incident worth the telling: and even when you don't come back with any booty for the kitchen, you have a fascinating story to recount. There are as many stories of the reef as there are fish in the sea."

After the war Ernest Cuneo joined with Ivar Bryce and a group of investors, including Fleming, to gain control of the North American Newspaper Alliance (NANA). Andrew Lycett has pointed out: "With the arrival of television, its star had begun to wane. Advised by Ernie Cuneo, who told him it was a sure way to meet anyone he wanted, Ivar stepped in and bought control. He appointed the shrewd Cuneo to oversee the American end of things... and Fleming was brought on board to offer a professional newspaperman's advice." Fleming was appointed European vice-president, with a salary of £1,500 a year. He persuaded James Gomer Berry, 1st Viscount Kemsley, that The Sunday Times should work closely with NANA. He also organized a deal with The Daily Express, owned by Lord Beaverbrook.

Fleming considered the possibility of writing detective fiction. In December 1950 he travelled to New York City to meet with Ernest Cuneo and William Stephenson. Fleming's biographer points out: "With William Stephenson's and Ernie Cuneo's help - Ian spent a night out on the Upper West Side with a couple of detectives from the local precinct. On previous trips he had enjoyed visiting Harlem dance clubs, where he delighted in their energy as much as their music. Now his eyes had been opened to a seedier reality. He met a local crime boss and witnessed with alarm the hold that drug traffickers were gaining in the neighbourhood." Cuneo took the opportunity to tell Fleming that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was a communist front.

Fleming often visited the United States to be with Cuneo. This included doing research in Las Vegas for a novel he was planning. Cuneo argued that Fleming was "a knight errant searching for the lost Round Table and possibly the Holy Grail, and unable to reconcile himself that Camelot was gone and still less that it had probably never existed."

In 1951 Esmond Cecil Harmsworth, who discovered her relationship with Fleming, divorced Ann. Her £100,000 divorce settlement enabled her to live in luxury with the unemployed Fleming. On 24th March 1952 she married Fleming. The very next day, he sat down and began writing Casino Royale. Ann wrote in her diary: "This morning Ian started to type a book. Very good thing." Every morning after a swim he breakfasted with Ann in the garden. After he finished his scrambled eggs, he settled in the main living-room and for the next three hours he "pounded the keys" of his twenty-year-old portable typewriter. He took lunch at noon and afterwards slept for an hour or so. He then returned to his desk and corrected what he had written in the morning.

John Pearson, the author of The Life of Ian Fleming (1966) claims that Fleming wrote a 62,000 word manuscript in eight weeks. He later claimed that he wrote Casino Royale in order to take his mind of being married. Andrew Lycett has argued that in reality, there were other reasons for this burst in creativity: "It was not so much his marriage that spurred Ian as the fait accompli of Ann's pregnancy, which created a new set of circumstances, partly physical - with her need to take her pregnancy carefully, she was hors de combat sexually, so Ian had time and energy on his hands - and partly psychological - Ian realized that, at the age of forty-three, the imminent arrival of his first-born child would change his life more radically than anything he had done before. With no great financial resources behind him, he needed to provide for his off-spring, whatever sex it turned out to be. Casino Royale was to be his child's birthright."

Ian and Ann Fleming
Ian and Ann Fleming

Fleming's novel, Casino Royale, featuring the secret agent James Bond, was published to critical acclaim in April 1953. Fleming later admitted that Bond was based on his wartime colleague, William Stephenson: "James Bond is a highly romanticized version of a true spy. The real thing is... William Stephenson." The 'M' character was inspired by Maxwell Knight, the head of B5b, a unit that conducted the monitoring of political subversion. The Flemings bought a Regency house in Victoria Square, London, and Ann Fleming gained a reputation for giving lunch and dinner parties attended by new literary friends, including Cyril Connolly and Evelyn Waugh.

Barbara Skelton, the wife of George Weidenfeld, and a published novelist, was one of the many visitors to Goldeneye. Unlike most women she did not find Ian attractive: "His eyes were too close together and I don't fancy his raw beef complexion." She accepted that Ann was attractive and "well-bred" but added, "why does she always rouge her cheeks like a painted doll?"

Fleming gave an insight into the writing process when he gave Ivar Bryce advice on writing his memoirs: "You will be constantly depressed by the progress of the opus and feel it is all nonsense and that nobody will be interested. Those are the moments when you must all the more obstinately stick to your schedule and do your daily stint... Never mind about the brilliant phrase or the golden word, once the typescript is there you can fiddle, correct and embellish as much as you please. So don't be depressed if the first draft seems a bit raw, all first drafts do. Try and remember the weather and smells and sensations and pile in every kind of contemporary detail. Don't let anyone see the manuscript until you are very well on with it and above all don't allow anything to interfere with your routine. Don't worry about what you put in, it can always be cut out on re-reading; it's the total recall that matters."

The journalist, Christopher Hudson, has claimed the Flemings were practitioners of sadomasochism: "Those who were lucky enough to visit Goldeneye, Ian Fleming's Jamaican retreat, could never understand how the Flemings went through so many wet towels. But those sodden towels were needed, literally, to cool their fiery partnership, used to relieve the stinging of the whips, slippers and hairbrushes the pair beat each other with - Ian inflicting pain more often than Ann - as well as to cover up the weals Ian made on Ann's skin during their fiery bouts of love-making." She wrote to Fleming: "I long for you to whip me because I love being hurt by you and kissed afterwards. It's very lonely not to be beaten and shouted at every five minutes." Hudson goes on to argue: "The pregnancy which led to their marriage resulted in Caspar, their first and only child. The birth, Ann's second Caesarian, left wide scars on her stomach, to the disgust of Fleming who had a horror of physical abnormality. Ann said it marked the end of their love-making."

Fleming followed Casino Royale with Diamonds Are Forever (1956). It received mixed reviews. Anthony Boucher wrote in the New York Times that Fleming "writes excellently about gambling, contrives picturesque incidents but the narrative is loose-joined and weekly resolved". Fleming defended himself by claiming that he was writing "fairy tales for grown-ups."

From Russia With Love appeared in 1957 and Dr No in 1958. Ann Fleming spent her time painting while Fleming wrote his books. She told Evelyn Waugh, "I love scratching away with my paintbrush while Ian hammers out pornography next door.

Fleming's biographer, Andrew Lycett, has argued: "Bond reflected much of Fleming: his secret intelligence background, his experience of good living, his casual attitude to sex. He differed in one essential - Bond was a man of action, while Fleming had mostly sat behind a desk. Fleming's news training was evident in his lean, energetic writing (with its dramatic set-piece essays on subjects that interested him, such as cards or diamonds) and in his desire to reflect contemporary realities, not only politically but sociologically. He was aware of Bond's position as a hard, often lonely professional, bringing glamour to the grim post-war 1950s. Fleming broke new ground in giving Bond an aspirational lifestyle and larding it with brand names."

Fleming spent a lot of time in Jamaica where he had an affair with Millicent Rogers, the granddaughter of Standard Oil tycoon Henry Huttleston Rogers, and an heiress to his wealth. He also had relationships with Jeanne Campbell and the novelist, Rosamond Lehmann. However, his most important relationship was with Blanche Blackwell who he met in 1956. Blanche described him as a fine physical specimen, "six foot two inches tall, with blue eyes and coal black hair, and so rugged and full of vitality." Blanche told Jane Clinton: “Don’t forget I met him when he was 48. In his early life I believe he did not behave terribly well. I knew an Ian Fleming that I don’t think a lot of people had the good fortune to know. I didn’t fawn over him and I think he liked that.... She (Ann Fleming) disliked me but I can’t blame her. When I got to know Ian better I found a man in serious depression. I was able to give him a certain amount of happiness. I felt terribly sorry for him.”

Sebastian Doggart has claimed that Blackwell was "the inspiration for Dr. No's Honeychile Ryder, whom Bond first sees emerging from the waves – naked in the book, bikini-clad in the movie." As well as Honeychile Ryder it has been argued that Fleming based the character of Pussy Galore , who appeared in Goldfinger on Blackwell.

Blanche Blackwell and Ian Fleming
Blanche Blackwell and Ian Fleming

Ann Fleming developed an interest in politics through her friend Clarissa Churchill, who had married Sir Anthony Eden, the leader of the Conservative Party. However during this period she began an affair with Hugh Gaitskell, the leader of the Labour Party. Brian Brivati, the author of Hugh Gaitskell (1996) has pointed out: "Friends and close colleagues worried both that the liaison would damage Gaitskell politically and that the kind of society life that Fleming lived was far removed from the world of Labour politics. Widely known in journalistic circles, though never reported, his attachment did not outwardly affect his marriage, but it did show the streak of recklessness and the overpowering emotionalism in his character that so diverged from his public image."

In March 1960, Henry Brandon contacted Marion Leiter who arranged for Fleming to have dinner with John F. Kennedy. The author of The Life of Ian Fleming (1966), John Pearson, has pointed out: "During the dinner the talk largely concerned itself with the more arcane aspects of American politics and Fleming was attentive but subdued. But with coffee and the entrance of Castro into the conversation he intervened in his most engaging style. Cuba was already high on the headache list of Washington politicians, and another of those what’s to-be-done conversations got underway. Fleming laughed ironically and began to develop the theme that the United States was making altogether too much fuss about Castro – they were building him into a world figure, inflating him instead of deflating him. It would be perfectly simple to apply one or two ideas which would take all the steam out of the Cuban." Kennedy asked him what would James Bond do about Fidel Castro. Fleming replied, “Ridicule, chiefly.” Kennedy must have passed the message to the CIA for on as the following day Brandon received a phone-call from Allen Dulles, asking for a meeting with Fleming.

Fleming published a collection of short stories, For Your Eyes Only in 1960. Maurice Richardson, writing in Queen Magazine, argued that Fleming's short stories "give you the feeling that Bond's author may be approaching one of those sign-posts in his career and thinking about taking a straighter path."

Ivar Bryce became a film producer and helped to finance The Boy and the Bridge (1959). The film lost money but Bryce decided he wanted to work with its director, Kevin McClory, again and it was suggested that they created a company, Xanadu Films. Fleming, Josephine Hartford and Ernest Cuneo became involved in the project. It was agreed that they would make a movie featuring Fleming's character, James Bond.

The first draft of the script was written by Cuneo. It was called Thunderball and it was sent to Fleming on 28th May. Fleming described it as "first class" with "just the right degree of fantasy". However, he suggested that it was unwise to target the Russians as villains because he thought it possible that the Cold War could be finished by the time the film had been completed. He suggested that Bond should confront SPECTRE, an acronym for the Special Executive for Counterintelligence, Revolution and Espionage. Fleming eventually expanded his observations into a 67-page film treatment. Kevin McClory now employed Jack Whittingham to write a script based on Fleming's ideas.

The Boy and the Bridge was a flop at the box-office and Bryce, on the recommendation of Ernest Cuneo, decided to pull-out of the James Bond film project. McClory refused to accept this decision and on 15th February, 1960, he submitted another version of the Thunderball script by Whittingham. Fleming read the script and incorporated some of the Whittingham's ideas, for example, the airborne hijack of the bomb, into the latest Bond book he was writing. When it was published in 1961, McClory claimed that he discovered eighteen instances where Fleming had drawn on the script to "build up the plot".

Fleming continued to live with Ann Fleming. He wrote to her: "The point lies only in one area. Do we want to go on living together or do we not? In the present twilight we are hurting each other to an extent that makes life hardly bearable." He recorded in his diary: "One of the great sadnesses is the failure to make someone happy." Ann told Cyril Connolly, that Fleming had constantly moaned: "How can I make you happy, when I am so miserable myself?"

In an attempt to make the relationship work they purchased a house in Sevenhampton. His mistress, Blanche Blackwell, moved to England to continue the relationship. Every Thursday morning Blanche would drive him down to Henley where they would have lunch at the Angel Hotel.

President John F. Kennedy was a fan of Fleming's books. In March 1961, Hugh Sidey, published an article in Life Magazine, on President Kennedy's top ten favourite books. It was a list designed to show that Kennedy was both well-read and in tune with popular taste. It included Fleming's From Russia With Love. Up until this time, Fleming's books had not sold well in the United States, but with Kennedy's endorsement, his publishers decided to mount a major advertising campaign to promote his books. By the end of the year Fleming had become the largest-selling thriller writer in the United States.

This publicity resulted in Fleming signed a film deal with the producers, Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, in June 1961. Dr No, starring Sean Connery, opened in the autumn of 1962 and was an immediate box-office success. As soon as it was released Kennedy demanded a showing in his private cinema in the White House. Encouraged by this new interest in his work, Fleming produced another James Bond book, On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1963).

Kevin McClory and Jack Whittingham became angry at the success of the James Bond film and believed that Fleming, Ivar Bryce and Ernest Cuneo had cheated them out of making a profit out of their proposed Thunderball film. The case appeared before the High Court on 20th November 1963. Three days into the case, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. McClory's solicitor, Peter Carter-Ruck, later recalled: "The hearing was unexpectedly and somewhat dramatically adjourned after leading counsel on both sides had seen the judge in his private rooms." Bryce agreed to pay the costs, and undisclosed damages. McClory was awarded all literary and film rights in the screenplay and Fleming was forced to acknowledge that his novel was "based on a screen treatment by Kevin McClory, Jack Whittingham and the author."

Ian Fleming, who was a heavy drinker and smoker, died from a heart-attack, on 12th August 1964. According to Christopher Hudson: "Ann never recovered from grief that she had not made Fleming happy... took to the bottle".

At the time of his death Fleming had sold 30 million books. In 1965 over 27 million copies of Fleming's novels were sold in eighteen different languages, producing an income of £350,699. In less than two years, his sales more than doubled those he had achieved in his lifetime. People continued to watch Dr No and it went on to gross $16 million around the world.

The popularity of Fleming's work resulted in heavy criticism. Malcolm Muggeridge, described him as an "Etonian Micky Spillane" who was "utterly despicable; obsequious to his superiors, pretentious in his tastes, callous and brutal in his ways, with strong undertones of sadism, and an unspeakable cad in his relations with women, towards whom sexual appetite represents the only approach."

Newspapers from behind the Iron Curtain were especially critical of Fleming's work. Pravda attacked him for creating "a world where the laws are written from a pistol barrel, and rape and outrages on female are considered gallantry". In April 1965 Neues Deutschland reported: "There is something of Bond in the snipers of the streets of Selma, Alabama. He is flying with the napalm bombers over Vietnam... The Bond films and books contain all the obvious and ridiculous rubbish of reactionary doctrine. Socialism is synonymous with crime. Unions are fifth columns of the Soviet Union. Slavs are killers and sneaks. Scientists are amoral eggheads. Negroes are superstitious, murderous lackeys. Persons of mixed race are trash."

John le Carre, was another who criticised the work of Ian Fleming. He has described Fleming's novels as "cultural pornography". He has stated that what he disliked most was "the Superman figure who is ennobled by some sort of misty, patriotic ideas and who can commit any crime and break any law in the name of his own society. He's a sort of licensed criminal who, in the name of false patriotism, approves of nasty crimes."

© , September 1997 - April 2014

Primary Sources

(1) Ivar Bryce, You Only Live Once (1975)

The fortress builders generously invited me to join them, and I discovered that their names were Peter, Ian, Richard and Michael, in that order. The leaders were Ian and Peter, and I gladly carried out their exact and exacting orders. They were natural leaders of men, both of them, as later history was to prove, and it speaks well for them all that there was room for both Peter and Ian in the platoon.

(2) Christopher Hudson, The Daily Mail (1st February 2008)

Those who were lucky enough to visit Goldeneye, Ian Fleming's Jamaican retreat, could never understand how the Flemings went through so many wet towels. But those sodden towels were needed, literally, to cool their fiery partnership, used to relieve the stinging of the whips, slippers and hairbrushes the pair beat each other with - Ian inflicting pain more often than Ann - as well as to cover up the weals Ian made on Ann's skin during their fiery bouts of love-making...

The pregnancy which led to their marriage resulted in Caspar, their first and only child. The birth, Ann's second Caesarian, left wide scars on her stomach, to the disgust of Fleming who had a horror of physical abnormality. Ann said it marked the end of their love-making.

(3) John Pearson, The Life of Ian Fleming (1966)

During the dinner the talk largely concerned itself with the more arcane aspects of American politics and Fleming was attentive but subdued. But with coffee and the entrance of Castro into the conversation he intervened in his most engaging style. Cuba was already high on the headache list of Washington politicians, and another of those what’s to-be-done conversations got underway. Fleming laughed ironically and began to develop the theme that the United States was making altogether too much fuss about Castro – they were building him into a world figure, inflating him instead of deflating him. It would be perfectly simple to apply one or two ideas which would take all the steam out of the Cuban.

Kennedy studied the handsome Englishman, rather as puzzled admirals used to study him in the days of Room 39. Was he an oddball or something more? What ideas had mister Fleming in mind?

What would James Bond do about Castro? In the best form of British sarcasm, Fleming replied, “Ridicule, chiefly,” and as Pearson related, “…with immense seriousness and confidence he developed a spoof proposal for giving Castro the James Bond treatment…”

(4) Richard Deacon, Spyclopaedia: The Comprehensive Handbook of Espionage (1987)

The truth is that a number of wartime intelligence coups credited to other people were really manipulated by Fleming. It was he who originated the scheme for using astrologers to lure Rudolf Hess to Britain. Fleming's contract in Switzerland succeeded in planting on Hess an astrologer who was also a British agent. To ensure that the theme of the plot was worked into a conventional horoscope the Swiss contract arranged for two horoscopes of Hess to be obtained from astrologers known to Hess personally so that the faked horoscope would not be suspiciously different from those of the others.

(5) Neues Deutschland (April 1965)

There is something of Bond in the snipers of the streets of Selma, Alabama. He is flying with the napalm bombers over Vietnam... The Bond films and books contain all the obvious and ridiculous rubbish of reactionary doctrine. Socialism is synonymous with crime. Unions are fifth columns of the Soviet Union. Slavs are killers and sneaks. Scientists are amoral eggheads. Negroes are superstitious, murderous lackeys. Persons of mixed race are trash.