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James Bond - Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming (1908-1964)
Ian Fleming was born to in 1908 to Major Valentine Fleming, a member of British Parliament.  His father was a military hero, and when he died eight days short of Ian's ninth birthday, Winston Churchill wrote the obituary for the Times.  Ian spent most of his early life trying to escape the shadows of his father's illustrious military career, as well as the school and writing success of his older brother, Peter.
Ian FlemingDespite early success in school at Eton, Peter never overcame being Valentine's son and Peter's brother, and he ended up leaving before graduating after an incident with a girl.  He then went on to the military academy Sandhurst, where he left without an officer's commission.  He eventually went to Europe to finish his education, and while in the small Austrian town of Kitzbuhel, Ian finally found a place where he could create his own identity.  Students there only knew of Ian, the rakish, handsome, cultured Etonian with a rapier wit and a certain cool lack of shyness with women--not of Peter or Valentine's greatness.

Unfortunately, his time in Europe did not clue Ian in to what he wanted to do with his life.  He eventually set his sights on the foreign service exam, but to his disappointment he failed to pass the test.  He then turned to his brother's profession, and joined Reuters as a journalist.  The highlight of his brief career with Reuters was covering a spy trial while in Russia.  However, Ian was still just the "other Fleming" journalist, as his brother Peter hopped the globe writing colorful news from many distant and exotic locals.  Making little money as a journalist and still being hidden in his brother's shadow, when his grandfather Robert Fleming, a rich scottish banker, died in 1933 and left his grandsons no money, Ian decided to give up Journalism.

In one of his few compromises, Fleming, capitalized on the family name by joining a London banking firm.  While banking failed to provide the fortune he sought, it did give him independence, and Fleming spent his free time entertaining friends, playing high-stakes bridge, and courting women. 

Bored with day-to-day life as a banker, Fleming accepted an assignment to cover a trade mission to Moscow for the Times, during which it appears that he was spying for the Foreign Office.  Shortly after he began a more formal attachment with Naval Intelligence, taking the rank of Lieutenant, and later Commander. Fleming became the right-hand man to one of Britain's top spymasters, Admiral John Godfrey.

During World War II, Fleming schemed, plotted, and carried out dangerous missions from the famous Room 39 in the Admiralty building in London's Whitehall.  Many of his off-beat ideas on how to confuse, survey, and enrage the Germans proved to be absurd, but many were also proved ingenious.

During 1945, Fleming traveled to Jamaica for a Naval conference.  He immediatley decided he would move there after the war, and shortly after starting purchasing land and designing his home, which would be named "Goldeneye" after one of his missions.  By 1952, Fleming moved full-time to Jamaica and started work on his first novel, Casino Royale, the first book to feature Agent 007.  By the time he died in 1964, Fleming had published 14 Bond books. 

Some people believe that James Bond was created in the image of Fleming himself, others that he is a composite of several people Fleming worked with and admired over his career, including his brother Peter, who was a succesful journalist and spy.  Whatever the case, it is obvious that Fleming's life and lifestyle play some influence in the Bond character, and his experiences shape the storylines, gadgets and characters in the series.

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