Fleming and the Bond novels

July 2, 2018

Using original material left by Ian Fleming, Anthony Horowitz’s James Bond novel Forever and a Day was published in May 2018. It is a prequel to Casino Royale, Fleming’s first 007 novel, which was published to critical acclaim on 13 April 1953 and sold almost five thousand copies in the first month.

In the 60 years since then ‘James Bond’ has become such a symbol of Britishness that the character, portrayed by Daniel Craig, appeared in the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. When it was released in 2012, Skyfall was the highest grossing film of all time in the UK.

But who was Ian Fleming, the creator of the James Bond character?

Ian Lancaster Fleming was born in 1908, the son of Valentine Fleming, banker and MP and his wife Evelyn. The family lived near to Valentine’s brother, Robert Fleming, founder of the eponymous merchant bank.

Ian had three brothers, including the scholarly Peter Fleming who became a writer and traveller. The family was devastated in 1917 when Valentine Fleming was killed in action in France.

Ian Fleming attended Eton and Sandhurst but neither academia nor military life suited him. He later showed a flair for languages and journalism and joined Reuters News Agency in 1929. In 1933 he moved to banking, and then tried stockbroking. It was during his war service in naval intelligence that his talents became obvious, including his overseeing of operation Goldeneye. After the war he joined Kemsley Newspapers as foreign manager and spent winters in Jamaica where he built a house named Goldeneye. His recreations in Who’s Who included ‘spear fishing’ which he presumably did while at his Jamaican home rather than in Victoria Square, London.

In 1952 Fleming married Anne, the granddaughter of the 11th Earl of Wemyss, widow of 3rd Baron O’Neill and former wife of 2nd Viscount Rothermere. They had one son. It was at this time that Fleming wrote his first book, Casino Royale, about a British secret agent, James Bond (code name 007). He then wrote a story every year until his death in 1964.

The James Bond books were published by Jonathan Cape. In 1961 Fleming signed a deal with Eon Productions and the film Dr No, starring Sean Connery, opened in 1962. Other actors who have portrayed the debonair James Bond over the years include Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan. The books and films remained popular, both during Fleming’s lifetime and to the present day. Directed by Sam Mendes, Spectre is the 24th Eon-produced film.

Music has been an integral part of the James Bond films. John Barry composed the soundtracks for eleven of the films and was succeeded in the task by David Arnold. Singer Shirley Bassey has performed the most theme songs, recording Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker.

 

QUIZ

1. Which writer, more usually known for his children’s books, wrote the screenplay for You Only Live Twice?

2. Which Who’s Who biographee lists ‘007’ in his recreations?

3. Which Royal Bond girl accompanied Daniel Craig in the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games?

4. Which musician wrote and performed the theme tune to the 1973 James Bond film, Live and Let Die?

5. What do Bond film actors Jonathan Pryce and Dame Judi Dench have in common?

6. What theatrical performance links Dame Judi Dench and Ian Fleming’s sister-in-law, Dame Celia Johnson?

 

1. Roald Dahl

2. Jonathan Elwyn Rayner James

3. HM the Queen

4. Sir Paul McCartney

5. Both appeared in the TV series, Cranford.

6. Both appeared as Ophelia in theatre productions of Hamlet

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