HAPPY BIRTHDAY – Ian Fleming, born 28 May 1908
“Never say ‘no’ to adventures.”
Ian Lancaster Fleming was born into a wealthy family living in Mayfair. He was given every opportunity – schooling at Eton (where he upset the headmaster), then Sandhurst (which he left without qualifying because he had contracted gonorrhoea), then a private school in Austria to prepare him for the foreign office (though he failed the examinations when he applied). He learned languages and had affairs with women, then got a job as a journalist with Reuters. He spent time in banking, worked in Naval Intelligence during the war and became a commander with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. After the war, it was back to journalism. He married Ann Charteris in 1952 in Jamaica, but neither partner was faithful to the other. That same year he began to write a spy novel, Casino Royale which was published in 1953 and it was a huge success. He initially wanted his character to be very dull – the sort of person to whom things happened, rather than an active protagonist, and he chose the name James Bond because he thought it was a very dull one. In the end he wrote 12 Bond novels and 2 collections of short stories.
Ian Fleming also wrote non-fiction and a book for children (Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang). He died aged 53 in 1961 (on what was his son’s 12th birthday). His character has become internationally famous, and Fleming has had an airport in Jamaica named in his honour. The film versions of his novels have become classics. Who is your favourite James Bond on film? Who do you think the next one should be? Share your thoughts in the comment area below.
For further reading, try Ian Fleming by Andrew Lycett.
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