‘Never say “no” to adventures. Always say “yes”, otherwise you’ll lead a very dull life.’ – Ian Fleming.
Ian Fleming, creator of legendary British spy James Bond, was born in London on 28th May 1908. Like Bond, Fleming went to school at Eton College – though unlike Bond, he wasn’t expelled. Strangely for a man destined to become a world-famous author, he excelled more on the athletics track than in the classroom, and was the sports champion (known as Victor Ludorum) two years in a row, a record which remains unbroken almost 100 years later.
After leaving school, Fleming went to study in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. He became fluent in French and German and loved the Alps where he learnt to ski and climb – these passions emerging later in James Bond’s adventures. Other hobbies Fleming shared with Bond included golf, gambling and a love for beautiful cars.
When he returned to London, Fleming became a journalist which helped him develop his talent for writing. He particularly enjoyed covering a notorious espionage trial in Russia during which he received a signed letter from the Russian dictator Joseph Stalin. In 1939, as World War Two approached, Fleming was recruited as the personal assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence, Admiral Godfrey. This was a very important position helping to run Allied spying operations against Nazi Germany. His experiences in this role undoubtedly inspired the plots and characters of his future James Bond novels.
After the war Fleming built a house in Jamaica, which he called ‘Goldeneye’, named after one of the espionage missions he’d organised during the war. It was here, in 1952, that he wrote a book called Casino Royale – and James Bond, agent 007, was born. He wrote a Bond novel every year for the next twelve years, as well as some short stories, and in 1962 the first Bond film was made, sparking the longest-running film franchise ever.
Another of Fleming’s creations was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – a story about a magical flying car which he wrote for his only son Caspar – which went on to become the well-loved film and musical.
Fleming died on 12 August 1964, at the age of fifty-six.