Ian Fleming was an English author and naval intelligence officer best known for his James Bond series of spy novels. A multi-faceted personality, he had also worked as a journalist, stockbroker, and banker before venturing into fiction writing. Born into a wealthy and influential family in London, he was educated in England, Germany, and Switzerland. He then studied briefly at Munich University and the University of Geneva. Having lost his father at a young age, he was pressurized by his mother to embark on a career as a banker which he did reluctantly by obtaining a position at the financiers Cull & Co. When the World War II began, he received a commission in the Royal Navy and worked for British Naval Intelligence. He was involved in planning Operation Goldeneye and in the planning and oversight of two intelligence units, 30 Assault Unit and T-Force. During this time he also learned a lot about espionage. After the war he became the Foreign Manager in the Kemsley newspaper group. His experiences as a naval intelligence officer motivated him to write spy novels and he wrote 12 James Bond novels and two short-story collections between 1953 and 1966 which established him as one of the best known British authors of his era.
- Ian Fleming was born on 28 May 1908 in London, England to Valentine Fleming and Evelyn St Croix Rose as one of their four sons. His family was a wealthy and affluent one.His father was a Member of Parliament who served in the army during World War I. He was killed by German shelling on the Western Front on 20 May 1917.After completing his high school, Ian Fleming enrolled at Eton College in 1921. He excelled at athletics and also edited a school magazine. His stay at the college was brief. He later studied at Sandhurst, the elite military academy. He also attended Munich University and the University of Geneva for short periods.Career
- After a stint at journalism, he ventured into banking owing to pressure from his mother. He acquired a position at the financiers Cull & Co in 1933. After a couple of years, he became a stockbroker.His career took an interesting turn in 1939 when he was recruited by Rear Admiral John Godfrey, Director of Naval Intelligence of the Royal Navy, to become his personal assistant. Fleming was commissioned into the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve in July 1939 as part of his appointment.During the World War II, he gained invaluable experience and gained knowledge about the Secret Intelligence Service, the Political Warfare Executive, the Special Operations Executive (SOE), and the Joint Intelligence Committee. He also travelled widely, often visiting the United States to coordinate intelligence operations.Admiral Godfrey made Fleming in charge of Operation Goldeneye between 1941 and 1942. The operation was a plan to maintain an intelligence framework in Spain in the event of a German takeover of the territory. He also became a member of the committee that selected the targets for the T-Force unit and also attended an Anglo-American intelligence summit in Jamaica in 1942.After the war, he became the Foreign Manager in the Kemsley newspaper group. His war time experiences had been very exciting and he was motivated to write a spy novel. He published a novel, ‘Casino Royale’ in 1953 which revolved around a British secret agent James Bond, also known by his code number, 007, who was a commander in the Royal Naval Reserve. The novel proved to be a success.Encouraged by this success, he released his second novel in the James Bond series ‘Live and Let Die’ in 1954. This novel was also well-received by the readers. Over the ensuing years, he wrote ten more novels in the series and two short-story collections.The James Bond novels were full of thrilling adventures, fast cars and sexy women. The readers could not get enough of the protagonist and his fascinating tales, and this made James Bond one of the most successful heroes of 20th-century popular fiction.James Bond became a huge cultural phenomenon and in 1961, Fleming sold a six-month option on the film rights to his published and future James Bond novels and short stories to Harry Saltzman. The film series, with actor Sean Connery portraying the spy in the initial installments, also proved to be big hits with the audience.Major Works
- Author Ian Fleming is best remembered for creating the fictional character James Bond, a Royal Navy Commander and a Secret Service agent, in 1953. The larger-than-life character, with a penchant for expensive cars and beautiful women, is the protagonist of the James Bond series of novels, films, comics and video games.Awards & Achievements
- In October 1947, he was awarded the Danish Frihedsmedalje for his contribution in assisting Danish officers escaping from Denmark to Britain during the occupation of Denmark.Personal Life & Legacy
- Ian Fleming was involved with multiple women. In 1939, he began an affair with Ann O'Neill who was married to the 3rd Baron O'Neill. At that time Ann was also having an affair with Esmond Harmsworth, the heir to Lord Rothermere.Ann’s husband died during the war and she went on to marry the second Viscount Rothermere while still continuing her affair with Fleming. Rothermere divorced Ann due to her infidelity in 1951.Ian Fleming finally married Ann in 1952 and had a son with her. But neither of them was faithful and both had numerous affairs during their marriage.He was a long-time smoker and drinker, and years of addiction took a toll on his health. He suffered from heart disease and had a heart attack in 1961. His health remained poor and he died of another heart attack on 12 August 1964.He had sold 30 million books during his lifetime and double that number was sold in the two years following his death. He was ranked 14th on ‘The Times’ list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945”.Numerous biographical films about him have been made. These include ‘Goldeneye: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming’ (1989), ‘Spymaker: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming’ (1990), ‘Ian Fleming: Bondmaker’ (2005), and ‘Ian Fleming: Where Bond Began’ (2008).
See the events in life of Ian Fleming in Chronological Order
People Also ViewedAlso Listed In
Books by Ian Fleming
Books About Ian Fleming