The Life of Ian Fleming: The Man Who Created James Bond
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It is now 40 years since the premiere of the very first Bond movie, "Dr No", with a youthful Sean Connery as 007: perhaps the most charismatic - and certainly the most durable - movie hero ever. The latest addition to the series will no doubt try and outdo all its predecessors in the scale of its pyrotechnics and special effects. But James Bond was invented by one man, Ian Fleming, a wartime intelligence officer and Sunday Times newspaper man who lived to see the beginning of the Bond cult, but not its astonishing growth into a multi-million-dollar industry. John Pearson knew him well, as his assistant at the Sunday Times when Fleming was writing its "Atticus" column, and in 1966, after Fleming's death, wrote this autobiography. It remains a definitive account of how only Ian Fleming could have dreamed up James Bond, for his own life as colourful as anything in his fiction - indeed, it shows how the Bond books were nothing less than a covert autobiography. Glamorous, ruthlessly womanising, charming and debonair, leading an exotic, globetrotting life from wartime Algiers to his beachside house, Goldeneye, in Jamaica, Fleming was nevertheless as elusive and opaque as his fictional hero - a man whose icy reserve few could breach. For this edition of the autobiography, John Pearson has added a new introduction, in which he looks at the extent to which the character of Fleming survives even immortality beyond its creator's wildest dreams.
felt well and free. He was living the sort of adventure he had enjoyed since boyhood, and Inagua soon became Crab Key, the scene of one more of James Bond’s exploits. But time was short. He was due back in London on March 22nd, and less than three days after watching the flamingoes and making scrambled eggs outside his tent in the hot dry sunlight of Inagua he was home again. Almost at once he caught cold, and the sciatica and bouts of lethargy which had ceased to plague him in Jamaica returned.
assistant, Mikhailov, had a temporary job with Reuters* chief rival, Central News of London, and this made him dangerous. Apart from the agency men there were a number of old Moscow hands: distinguished correspondents like A. T. Cholerton, the black-bearded representative of the Daily Telegraph, and Walter Duranty of the New York Times. A. J. Cummings had come out to report the trial for the News Chronicle. Malcolm Muggeridge, now nearing the end of his storm-tossed career on the Manchester
came up with an idea. He suggested to Godfrey that he, Fleming, should be sent off immediately to Montbazon, along with a wireless operator, with orders to stay as close as possible to Admiral Darlan until he made up his mind. ‘I cannot imagine what made me suggest this,’ Fleming wrote later, ‘except perhaps my usual desire to escape from Room 39 and get some fresh air.’ Somewhat to his surprise. Admiral Godfrey agreed: and on June 13th the RAF flew a wireless operator and Fleming to Le Bourget.
Sidney Cotton became a useful friend of Room 39. ‘Ian had an odd sort of imagination,’ says Cotton. ‘Always given to flights of fancy. “Sidney,” he said once, “suppose the Huns are using Southern Ireland as a base for U-boats – they’d need only one or two small bays along some deserted stretch of coastline…”’ It all ended with Cotton photographing the entire coast of Southern Ireland from two thousand feet. The pictures supported other evidence that there were no bases. Fleming passed on to
say, “Ian, it tastes like armpits”. And all the time you were eating there was old Ian smacking his lips for more while his guests remembered all those delicious meals he had put into the books.’ Coward’s theory is that the food and the discomfort of Goldeneye were exactly what Fleming wanted and secretly enjoyed. ‘They’re very strange people, the Flemings. There’s old Peter without a taste bud in his head whizzing through Tibet before the war on a yak and feeding on cow dung. Ian was rather the