Writer’s Note: I was in high school when I first heard of “James Bond” and “007”. A classmate invited me to go to the movies and a James Bond movie was showing. I don’t remember the name of the movie, but I still remember great shots of beaches and resorts somewhere in the Caribbean, lots of action between good guys and bad guys, and beautiful women. Most clearly, however, I remember Sean Connery. Connery was the first actor to play the role of British agent 007, James Bond. I never accepted another actor like Bond. Sean Connery IS James Bond to me, and always will be.
Unlike Connery, Bond is not a real person. He is a fictional character created by British writer Ian Fleming. Was Bond a reflection of Fleming’s life? Fleming’s alter ego? – generalist
Almost everyone has either seen at least one Bond movie or read at least one Bond book. Bond became known around the world, especially after the films launched in the 1960s. Bond novels have sold millions of copies and the film franchise they launched has become one of the most successful. in the world.
The main draw of the two was the rapid adventures of a secret agent working against the clock to catch international criminals – almost always in an exotic location. It didn’t hurt that Sean Connery was the first actor to play the role of Bond. His appeal to men (macho with a bit of a clever mouth and a sense of women) and to women (beautiful, charming and irresistible) helped “sell” the Bond brand in a way that no future actor could. quite realize.
Many are surprised to learn that Bond, Special Agent 007, had something in common with two critical intelligence units used by Britain and the Allies during WWII (the 30 Commando Assault Unit and T-Force ) and a children’s book (Chitty chitty bang bang). The common element? All were created by Ian Fleming.
Fleming was a successful British writer and journalist. Prior to that, however, he was a British Naval Intelligence Officer during World War II. Fleming’s life experiences – both in intelligence work and in his private life – laid the groundwork for Bond’s character and adventures.
Fleming was born in London to a family well established in banking, politics and high society. His father was a member of the British Parliament until he enlisted when World War I broke out. He was killed in action soon after. A close family friend, Winston Churchill, wrote the obituary for Fleming’s father.
Growing up as a Flemish was not easy
Fleming was never a scholar. His widowed mother valiantly tried to find a career for her son. He attended several schools before graduating from Eton College where he excelled in athletics and writing. He co-edited an issue of the school magazine and published his first short story there. Fleming was a rebel and often found himself in trouble because of alcohol, girls and fast cars.
After a year at Sandhurst Military College (his mother thought Sandhurst would help him develop a career in the military like his late father, but Fleming hated it), Fleming studied abroad to develop his foreign language skills for a career at the British Foreign Office. . When he went to the exams, he was not high enough. In order not to be discouraged, his mother used her influence to find him a job at Reuters. It was there that Fleming’s talent for writing and his love for journalism combined to give him a career he adopted.
After several years with Reuters, Fleming tried to work in the financial world for a time to make more money than journalism could offer. According to many, he excelled in the social aspects of banking – entertaining customers with lunches, dinners, rounds of golf, etc. – but he was bored with the banking job itself.
In 1939 Fleming was appointed special assistant to the director of naval intelligence in the rank of lieutenant in the special branch of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. Bond and Fleming’s lives began to intersect – this was the rank Bond would occupy later.
Fleming’s boss was Rear Admiral John Godfrey of the Royal Navy, a man he admired. As Godfrey’s assistant, Fleming traveled extensively to help Britain develop collaborative strategies with the United States. One of Fleming’s jobs was to advise the United States on how to set up its Office of Strategic Studies (the predecessor of the CIA).
Fleming helped plan several covert operations during his time in the Naval Intelligence Division. His planning and oversight of the 30 Commando Assault Unit and the T Force earned him recognition for his wartime service. This work gave him the insight needed to develop believable (well, mostly!) Adventures for his fictional hero. Bond was a composite of many men he knew at that time.
Towards the end of the war Fleming attended an Anglo-American naval conference in Kingston, Jamaica. He stayed with a friend at his friend’s villa in the Blue Mountains. He fell in love with Jamaica and for the rest of his life Jamaica was going to be his “happy place”.
Goldeneye – Fleming’s Jamaican Heaven. . .
In 1947 Fleming bought an old racetrack near Oracabessa on the north coast of Jamaica. There he designed and built his own villa and named it “Goldeneye”. The name may come from one of Fleming’s WWII intelligence operations of the same name, or perhaps because the Spanish translation of “Oracabessa” is “gold head.” No one knows for sure.
The villa featured tall windows that let in sunlight and a view of the sky and clouds rather than the beach below and the sea. Fleming designed them on purpose so that he was not distracted from writing what he said to others would be “the spy novel to end all spy novels.”
In January 1952 (Fleming had negotiated his journalism contract so that he had two months off, paid, each year so that he could be in Jamaica to write) Fleming began writing the manuscript for Casino Royale. Memories of a trip to a casino in Portugal gave Fleming his setting. He realized that his main character needed a proper name. According to interviews, Fleming said he looked among the books on his shelf in Goldeneye and spotted a copy of West Indies Bird Field Guide by ornithologist James Bond. The name sounded “right”.
Three months later, Fleming married his longtime mistress, Ann Rothermere. In August of the same year, Fleming’s only son (son Casper, for whom he wrote Chitty chitty bang bang based on bedtime stories Fleming made up for him) was born. Although they loved each other, the couple did not have an easy marriage. She preferred London and European high society; he preferred Jamaica and Goldeneye. As Fleming’s fame grew, they bought a number of houses, always trying to find something to suit both of them. For Fleming, Goldeneye had no equal.
Fleming enjoyed unprecedented success (and so unexpected that he retained his “day job” as a journalist long after his fortune was made “just in case”) with his creation Bond. Once Bond appeared, the books kept coming at a rapid pace – – Casino Royale (1953), (Live and Let Die (1954), Moonraker (1955), Diamonds are forever (1956), From Russia with love (1957), Dr No (1958), The golden finger (1959), Just for your eyes (1960), Thunder clap (1961), The spy who loved me (1962), On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1963), You only live twice (1964), and The man with the golden gun (1965).
Fleming lived to see Dr No and From Russia with love at the theater, and was able to visit the set of The golden finger before a heart attack ends her life. Although Connery was not Fleming’s first choice to play Bond, the two became quick friends and collaborated on how best to “bring” the fictional character to life in the movies.
In the two years since Fleming’s death, his Bond thrillers have sold 60 million copies. To date, over 100 million copies have been sold worldwide. Bond Films have a combined gross revenue of over $ 7 billion to date, making it the 6th highest grossing film series.
Among the many anecdotes concerning the character of Bond, one was particularly interesting. Why “007”? It appears that Fleming gave Bond “007” based on something he had learned from his English history studies.
John Dee, a spy for Queen Elizabeth I, was responsible for sending the Queen private letters “for her eyes only” which contained his best information on foreign intrigues. To make sure the Queen was sure the letters were coming from him, Dee would sign his letters “00” followed by an elongated “7”.
Even in popular fiction there is always a lesson.