Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Spy Authors: The Story of Roald Dahl and Ian Fleming: Part Two

What do Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James Bond have in common?
One of Roald Dahl's greatest works.
The iconic James Bond.
The answer: their authors, respectively Roald Dahl and Ian Fleming, both worked as spies for England during World War II. Not only that, but the two men were good friends during their later careers, reading and reviewing each other's works frequently. How? In the years leading up to the United States entering the Second World War, the English were desperate for American help against Nazi Germany. The British sent a number of men, including Dahl and Fleming, to try to neutralize anti-war American sentiment, release propaganda in favor of American intervention in the war, and do whatever was required to get the United States to help England win the war.

Where these two remarkable authors and cultural icon's careers intersected, in Washington D.C. in the early 1940s, would become a "Who's who" list of American and British political and cultural icons, some of whom were only famous in the time period and some whose fame have stood the test of time. Some of the famous men and women whom Dahl and Fleming would interact with during their time in Washington would include:
  • President Franklin Delano and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Prime Minister Winston Churchill
  • Author C.S. Forester, who encouraged Roald Dahl to become a writer.
  • William "Intrepid" Stephenson, the Canadian spy-master who was sent to the U.S. by Winston Churchill to run the British Security Co-ordination, whose role was to combat anti-British sentiment in the U.S. Stephenson is often considered the inspiration for James Bond.
  • Walt Disney, whom Dahl sold story ideas to.
  • David Ogilvy, a fellow spy who would go on to be one of the most successful advertisers in American history.
  • Millionaire oilman and newspaper publisher Charles Marsh, who became Dahl's close friend and benefactor.
  • Future President Lyndon Baines Johnson, then a low-level Senator in Washington who owed much of his success to Charles Marsh.
  • William "Wild Bill" Donavon, head of the OSS, which would eventually become the CIA.
    Head of the OSS William "Wild Bill" Donavon, who worked closely with Ian Fleming.
  • Ivar Bryce, a childhood friend of Fleming's, who worked with both in Washington, and whom Dahl said was fifty percent of the inspiration behind James Bond. He also introduced Fleming to Jamaica, where he frequently traveled the rest of his life to write Bond novels.
  • Ernest Hemingway, the famous American author, whom Dahl admired and helped to travel to Britain to report on the D-Day landings.  
  • Vice President Henry Wallace, a close friend of Charles Marsh whom Dahl regularly interacted with.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of the important people Dahl and Fleming interacted with while they were in Washington. Both men, but especially Dahl, had a series of affairs with high-society women, including actresses, politicians, and wives of influential men. And both men were intricately involved with American politics and war planning in various ways during the time period.

This two-part story (with one article on each man) will be a discussion of the two men's lives and how they were led to Washington in the 1940s. Then I will discuss each man's role in Washington while they were there. Finally we will finish with a look at their highly successful post-spy and war careers, which included prolifically writing some of the more beloved books and characters of all time, from James Bond and Charlie Buckett to the BFG and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. These two literary icons played important roles in the United States joining the war effort during World War II, and this legacy should be remembered just as much as their later cultural achievements. Both men's time as spies, the people they interacted with, and the incredible stories they were involved in, need to be shared with the world!
Roald Dahl with his creations.
This second article will focus on the career and cultural accomplishments of Ian Fleming. The link to the first article, about Roald Dahl, can be found here. Enjoy!
Ian Fleming with his first book.

Early Life

A young Ian Fleming at the beach.
A token from the Fleming banking company.
Valentine Fleming
Ian Fleming was, if anything, born into even more privilege than Roald Dahl. Ian was born in 1908, the second of four sons of Valentine and Eve Fleming. Valentine was a member of the British Parliament, and his grandfather had founded the Robert Fleming and Co. bank, which existed until 2000, when it was sold to Chase Manhattan for seven billion dollars. So Ian grew up accustomed to great wealth. This privileged early life was dealt a severe blow when Ian's father volunteered to serve in World War I, where he was killed by a German bomb in 1917. The popular "Val" Fleming was eulogized in the newspaper by his friend and colleague, Winston Churchill. This left Eve, an overbearing and controlling woman, to watch over her four sons. This she did with great zeal, trying to control her sons, especially Ian, in where they went to school, whom they married, and what careers they chose. Ian was negatively affected throughout his life by the legend of his father and the controlling nature of his mother, who constantly reminded him that he was not his father.
Ian the star athlete.

Like Roald Dahl, Ian Fleming attended several elite British prep schools in his youth, and like Dahl, he endured harsh treatment there. When he turned thirteen, he enrolled at the prestigious Eton College, where his father and brother, Peter, were both distinguished alumnus. As a child, and into adulthood, Fleming was an especially tall man, and he was an excellent athlete, especially in track and field events, where his cold personality did not have to mesh with teammates. While at Eton Ian also began to experiment with writing, publishing several school papers, one of which he sold to the public for a large profit. While enrolled at Eton, Ian gained a reputation as a troublemaker, for being mean, a womanizer, and being selfish. It was therefore not a great surprise when the schoolmaster asked Ian to leave the school early, which Ian, never an avid student, quickly accepted.
Eton College.
After leaving Eton, Ian enrolled in a military college, though he only stayed for a year. Under immense pressure from his mother to find a successful career, Ian then enrolled at a small academy in Austria run by a former British spy, Ernan Forbes Dennis. The goal of this academy was to prepare Ian for service in the Foreign Office, ideally as a diplomat abroad. After spending time at the academy, Ian traveled through Europe, spending time in Munich and Geneva improving his German skills in preparation for his future career. Around this time, the notorious womanizer became romantically involved for the first time, 
with a woman named Monique. Eve Fleming, controlling as always, disapproved of Ian's informal fiancee and forced Ian to break off the relationship. Soon after, Ian applied for employment with the Foreign Office, but was rejected, his test scores not high enough. Again, it seemed Ian could not live up to the expectations of his mother and the ghost of his father.
The controlling Evelyn "Eve" Fleming, Ian's mother.
Joseph Stalin
Not long after this latest rejection, Eve Fleming intervened again. She asked her old friend, Sir Roderick Jones, head of Reuters News Agency, if the company might have use for a talented writer who spoke several languages. In October 1931, Ian was hired as a subeditor for Reuters. Ian's early work for Reuters saw him doing mundane work in Germany. In 1933 Ian helped break a story about an Englishman who had been arrested for espionage in the Soviet Union. This story required Ian to be in Moscow, so he quickly traveled to the Soviet capital to cover the trial. Ian, showing himself to be a cutthroat reporter, cut the telephone wires to make sure that his report was the first to reach England. Once the trial ended, Ian spent a few days trying to get an interview with Joseph Stalin. While he was unable to do so, he did get an apologetic letter from Stalin, not usually known for his kind words.

A young, dapper Ian Fleming.
Not long after returning from Moscow, Ian resigned from Reuters to take jobs at a series of banks, attempting to begin a career in the business of his father and grandfather. While initially Ian tried his best to be a banker, it quickly became obvious to himself and others that he was "the world's worst stockbroker." While Ian managed to survive in the banking world until 1939, his interest soon waned and it became clear that eventually he would move on to something else. He switched banks in 1935, but it was not until 1939 that he would be offered a non-banking position, something that captured his attention and devotion. Beginning around 1937, Ian had become friends with several British spies and diplomats and had become extremely interested in the espionage world. He proved this by using his travels throughout Europe (mostly for pleasure, rather than work) to write reports on what he saw while in Germany and Russia, among other places. He even took a leave from his bank to be a correspondent in Russia for a time. This low-key, unrequested intelligence gathering soon drew the attention of the British intelligence community. In the months leading up to World War II, Britain was desperate for intelligent men who had an interest in foreign affairs and spoke multiple languages. As Ian fit all of these needs, and had shown that he already wished to gather intelligence, he was very desirable to the British. Ultimately, this led to Ian being offered the position of personal assistant to Rear Admiral John Godfrey, Director of Naval Intelligence for the Royal Navy. Finally, it seemed Ian had found his calling: spy. And it was just in time for him to be of use to Britain during World War II.
Rear Admiral John Godfrey

The War Years

Ian, like his father before him, had given up a lucrative banking career to serve his country in a
world war. The operation Ian began working for, Room 39 of the Naval Intelligence Division,
was a think tank and central information center, the brain of a large
intelligence organization still trying to get off of the ground in the early days of the war. The men
and women of Room 39 organized a huge amount of information, signals, operations, and other necessities that found their way into the office. The office frequently found itself being bombarded by requests for information from the new Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, Ian's father's friend. They would receive his request for information in the morning, and try to get him the needed paperwork by the time he woke from his afternoon nap. Key to the function of this operation was the man at the front desk, Ian Fleming. He became "liaison with the outside world," interacting with other intelligence agencies, as well as government officials.
One of many books about the successes of Room 39.

Quickly Ian was promoted from lieutenant to commander, which enabled him to speak more
freely with senior officials of both his department and Churchill's cabinet. Ian quickly used this
new platform to share some of his outside-the-box ideas for intelligence gathering and general
espionage. Ian's bright mind was soon recognized by his boss, John Godfrey. Within a year of
starting the position, Ian was not only representing Godfrey in various meetings, but also taking
over the duty of planning intelligence missions. Eventually this led to Ian having the right to start
pursuing his own initiatives. Godfrey even said after the war that "Ian should have been [Director] and I his naval advisor." Very high praise for the young spy!
British Prime Minister (and Fleming family friend) Winston Churchill.
Ian responded well to these new responsibilities, working diligently for the first time in his life.
This new career was turning out to be the perfect outlet for his diverse skills and personalities.
Around this time, Ian also began to become involved with his future wife, Ann
O'Neill. Ian had met Ann in the early 1930s, when she had been the new wife of Baron O'Neill, a
Fleming family friend. By 1939, their early friendship had developed into something more, and
they began an affair. Ian soon showed why it had taken seven years for their relationship to
blossom: On one of their first dates, he claimed to have a migraine, handed Ann a book and
told her to "keep quiet until I'm ready for you." Obviously not swept off of her feet by this
charming gesture, Ann and Ian's relation would take years to develop into marriage.

Ian's future wife, Ann O'Neill.
Ian continued to impress his superiors with interesting proposals for mission. It quickly became clear that Naval Intelligence, where Ian was working, was the place to go if you wanted quick approval for an espionage mission, and so a large number of agents and plan-makers were soon coming into the office to share their ideas. Since Ian was at the front desk, and in charge of who got to see Admiral Godfrey, most of those ideas filtered through Ian, giving him great new ideas for missions (and later books).

Lisbon, Portugal.
In mid-1941, Ian began traveling and preparing a new operation, later called Operation GoldeneyeGoldeneye was a series of plans for what to do if the British-controlled island of Gibraltar, which controlled entry into the Mediterranean Sea and was essential to British war plans, were to fall into enemy hands. The goal of the operation was to maintain communication with the island, conduct espionage and sabotage against Nazi Germany if necessary, and to keep Spain out of the war. The operation was officially started in 1941, with Fleming in charge, but he had to lay the groundwork, which brought him to Lisbon, Portugal. Lisbon was notorious at the time for espionage, with spies from around the world flocking there. Notably, Juan Pujol Garcia, AKA Agent Garbo, whom I wrote about several months ago, was conducting espionage in Lisbon at the same time. There were dozens, possibly hundreds of spies in the city, conducting espionage, trading information and misinformation in an attempt to gain an advantage for their home countries. After Portugal, Ian then had to go to Spain to continue planning. H was almost denied entry to Spain, because the only airline flying there was the German Lufthansa, an enemy airline. But Ian, showing characteristic stubbornness, insisted that as a commercial airline they had to sell him a seat. The airline relented and he was allowed to go to Madrid to plan Goldeneye. The operation never had to be put into effect and was closed in 1943 when invasion of Gibraltar was no longer imminent.
A map of Gibraltar from the Goldeneye file.

Also in 1941, Ian visited America with John Godfrey. Their goal was to improve the relationship between American and British spy agencies and to help coordinate information sharing between the two sides. While Ian and Godfrey were in the United States, they met such notable intelligence agents as J. Edgar Hoover, Wild Bill Donavon, and William Stephenson, head of the British Security
The OSS logo, eventually the CIA.
Coordination organization where Roald Dahl worked. Godfrey even met with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and had an extensive discussion with him of unifying the great number of intelligence agencies operating in the United States into one organization. While Roosevelt seemed skeptical of this plan, a week later he announced the organization of the COI, which would later be renamed the OSS, and eventually the CIA. The first director would be the pro-British Bill Donavon, with whom Godfrey and Fleming had already worked closely. While Godfrey soon departed, Ian remained in the United States for several months, helping to organize and write memos and blueprints for the OSS and Donavon. Ian was a driving force behind Donavon's quick organization of the OSS operations.
The young Roald Dahl.
While Ian was there, he spent time with his childhood friend, Ivar Bryce. By this time, Bryce was working for William Stephenson, alongside Roald Dahl, David Ogilvy, and the other members of Stephenson's Irregulars, as discussed in the article about Roald Dahl. Roald Dahl would later recall of Ian Fleming's personality,"There was a great red glow when Ian came into the room." This group of men frequented the bars and clubs of New York City, with and without Ian Fleming. All of these men remained correspondents and friends for the rest of their lives.
The young Ivar Bryce.
Ian in his adopted home of Jamaica.

During his travels, Ian also visited the nation that would eventually become his home. He attended an Anglo-American conference in Jamaica. He fell in love with the country, and Ivar Bryce helped him select a plot of land to purchase. In 1945 he built a home there, which he would eventually name Goldeneye, after his most famous operation.

Ian quickly became one of the leading British thinkers when it came to innovative espionage plans. He was the author of the 1939 "Trout Memo," written in John Godfrey's name, which compared espionage to trout fishing:
The Trout Fisher casts patiently all day. He frequently changes his venue and his lures. If he has frightened a fish he may 'give the water a rest for half-an-hour,' but his main endevour, viz. to attract fish by something he sends out from his boat, is incessant.
The memo goes on to describe numerous ways that the enemy, like trout, may be fooled or lured in with ingenious traps and plans. The memo then discusses some of Fleming's plans, some of which we know were eventually put into use. Most notably, Fleming's plan to plant
 a corpse dressed as an airman, with dispatches in his pockets, could be dropped on the coast, supposedly from a parachute that has failed. I understand there is no difficulty in obtaining corpses at the Naval Hospital, but, of course, it would have to be a fresh one.
 The general idea of this plan, to plant a body dressed as a British soldier in a place where it would be picked up by the Germans, and to plant on that body papers containing misleading information, was eventually used by the British army, during Operation Mincemeat.
The corpse used to trick Nazis
 during Operation Mincemeat.

Beginning in 1942, Fleming was also placed in charge of a unit of "intelligence commandos," known as 30 Assault Unit. Fleming organized the group, whose job it was to enter an area being invaded by British troops before the assault happened, to seize any valuable enemy materials or documents before they could be destroyed. Ian had stolen this idea from the Germans, who had a similar unit. While Fleming hand-selected the troops members, he was generally disliked by the men, mainly because he referred to them as his "Red Indians." Ian's control of the unit was phased out in 1944, though he maintained contact with them. The high level of success he had achieved with 30AU allowed him to be included on the committees of future imitation groups. The Target Force, or T-Force, was a unit with similar goals as 30AU: to capture and preserve enemy targets of interest during invasions. Ian was a committee member in charge of choosing targets for T-Force to attack.
Ian Fleming's memo proposing 30 Assault Unit.
In 1945, as the war came to a close, Ian Fleming began to look to the future. He took every opportunity to travel the world for the British government, visiting the future Sri Lanka to review Britain's fleet in the Pacific, while also exploring the Sri Lankan countryside. Next he visited Australia, and ended his trip in Hawaii, where he visited Pearl Harbor. He then returned to Britain to help oversee the final operations of his 30AU unit as they helped in the invasion of continental Europe. He was also busy planning what he would do once the war finally ended. On several occasions he was caught doodling his future home in Jamaica, and while he was in Sri Lanka he confided to friends that he "would never spend another winter in Britain." He also told a co-worker whom he was sharing a meal with, after being asked what he planned to do after the war, that he was "going to write the spy story to end all spy stories." By the last few months of World War II, Ian Fleming's mind had certainly moved on to what was next.


When the war finally ended, Ian found himself with a number of options. He could continue in the Navy; he could return to his unfulfilling but wealth-enhancing banking career; or he could find something different to do. Ian opted for the last option: his friend Lord Kemsley, a newspaper owner, offered him a job he could not refuse. Ian was offered a massive salary, two months of holiday a year, and a relatively easy job description- foreign manager of Kemsley Newspapers. His job description was remarkably similar to what he had done for the Navy- gathering and distributing information around the world and organizing the people under his supervision. The two-month break each year would give him time to write his spy novels. It was the best of both worlds for Ian Fleming!
Kemsley Newspaper House.
Not everything was so rosy for Ian. Ann O'Neill, recently widowed, told Ian that if he was not ready to marry her, then she would marry Lord Esmond Rothermere, another newspaper owner. Ian declared that he wished to remain a bachelor, leaving Ann to marry her "second choice." This did not, however, end the decade-long affair between Ian and Ann. Ann frequently snuck off to where ever Ian was, including Jamaica, to be with him.
Ian the bachelor.
William "Intrepid" Stephenson.

Ian with a freshly caught lobster.
Goldeneye Estate, Jamaica.
In the years after the war, Ian began to visit Jamaica, building his Goldeneye estate, as well as spending at least two months of every year on the tropical island. Ian quickly fell in love with the country, becoming somewhat of an expert on the local birds and fish, snorkeling naked and spearing lobster for his meals. Ian soon became friends or reconnected with other former spies who had moved to Jamaica, including his old boss William Stephenson. Ivar Bryce had also moved to Jamaica, and between Bryce and Stephenson many old friends came to Jamaica to visit, including Roald Dahl. Ian and Roald had kept in touch after the war, and even spent time together in Jamaica when Roald visited Stephenson. Fleming took a great interest in Roald's literary work, though he never discussed his own book ideas with Roald. He reportedly read all of Roald's work and gave it high praise. The two men also exchanged story ideas, one of which Roald turned into a story for the New Yorker, which Alfred Hitchcock eventually turned into a television episode. The story was about a women who murdered her husband with a frozen leg of mutton, and then served the "weapon" to the detectives who came to investigate the murder: the perfect murder plot. Fleming continually insisted that his writing was nothing compared to Roald's. Jamaica soon became Ian's retreat, his chance to get away from the world and everything that caused him trouble- and a chance to finally write his spy novels.

Ann Fleming
Casino Royale, Ian Fleming's first book.
In 1952 two major events happened in Ian Fleming's life. First, Ann's marriage with Lord Rothermere collapsed and ended in divorce, in part because of her continued affair with Ian. This included giving birth to Ian's child in 1948, a daughter who was stillborn. In 1951 her divorce was made official, and in 1952, she and Ian finally wed in a small ceremony at Goldeneye in Jamaica. Only a few months later, Ann gave birth to Ian's second (and only living) child, Caspar. Around this time, and probably prompted by his new wife, Ian also began to write his first novel. Beginning in February 1952, Ian wrote feverishly for two months, finishing Casino Royale, his first James Bond novel, in late March.

Ian with son Caspar.
A year later, Ian published the novel. The novel got good reviews and sold quickly, and soon a literary icon had been born. His first novel had many of the hallmark features of future James Bond novels and movies: the codename 007, working for MI6, and the prototype Bond girl. He named the main character, James Bond, after an American ornithologist, or studier of birds, whose book Fleming had at Goldeneye. Fleming explained to the real Bond's wife:
 ...that this brief, unromantic, Anglo-Saxon and yet very masculine name was just what I needed, and so a second James Bond was born.
Fleming also said in a New York Times article that:
I wanted Bond to be an extremely dull, uninteresting man to whom things happened; I wanted him to be a blunt instrument ... when I was casting around for a name for my protagonist I thought by God, [James Bond] is the dullest name I ever heard.
The real James Bond and one of his books.
The success of that first novel spurred Ian, and he continued to write a novel a year for the rest of his life, frequently while he was spending his yearly vacation in Jamaica. The first four books Ian wrote were received well by critics and the public, and sold very well. This changed after his fifth book, Dr. No. Critics described the book as being sadistic, unethical and sexist. Soon it seemed that critics around the globe were piling on, and an exhausted and saddened Fleming underwent what Bond scholars call a literary and professional decline.
Ian's first unpopular book.
Despite this downturn in success, Ian continued to write a book a year. He also spent some time writing a couple of non-fiction books, including one about the diamond trade inspired by his research for the novel Diamonds Are Forever. While recovering from a heart attack in 1962, Ian also wrote a children's book for his son, Caspar. The book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, was about a magical flying car, based on bedtime stories Ian had created. The movie version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was released in 1968, after Ian's death. The screenplay was written by none other than Roald Dahl, and starred Dick Van Dyke in the leading role.
The movie poster for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
The book cover for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
In the early 1960s, two major boosts for Ian's legacy occurred. First, President John F. Kennedy listed From Russia With Love as one of his ten favorite books in an article for Time magazine. This prompted sales of Ian's books in the United States, previously a relatively small market, to soar. Ian became the highest selling crime author in the United States for a time. Secondly, Ian went from being a star author to being a Hollywood icon with the 1962 release of the film version of Dr. No, starring the unknown Scottish actor Sean Connery as the first-ever James Bond.
Sean Connery, the first James Bond.
Sean Connery in the unofficial
 Bond movie Never Say Never Again.
This was not Ian's first attempt to turn his books into a Hollywood movie. In the late 1950s Ivar Bryce had introduced him to a group of directors and writers to help write the screenplay for a Bond movie that was not based on any of his books, called Thunderball. When this partnership had collapsed, Ian had turned the partially written screenplay into a novel by the same name, without crediting the writers he had worked with. When his former co-writers read the new book, they took Ian to court, demanding that they receive credit or the book not be published. Eventually the two sides settled out of court, with Ian receiving the book rights and his opponents receiving the movie rights to the screenplay. This effected the order in which Bond movies were made. When the first movie was released the next year, they could not make Thunderball, which was Ian and his producer's first choice. While Thunderball was eventually made into a movie in 1965, it was out of the order Ian and his producers had originally envisioned. This legal fiasco also allowed Ian's opponents to make their own movie, Never Say Never Again, in 1983, starring Sean Connery as Bond, twelve years after his last appearance as Bond in the official Bond movies.
Ian and Ivar leaving court after the Thunderball case was settled.
Around this time Ian's marriage and health began to decline. After years of abuse back and forth, affairs with each other and then outside of their marriage, and the stresses of international fame and travel, Ian and Ann Fleming's marriage was on the rocks.  Ian and Ann had always been abusive towards each other, frequently verbally and physically abusing each other. Both had had a series of affairs. Ian had an years-long affair with his Jamaican neighbor Blanche Blackwell, whose son, Chris, would go on to found Island Records, the company that produced Bob Marley, among others. It should not be too surprising to readers that a marriage built on deceit, abuse and sex was destined to not be the happiest of marriages. Ian and Ann never divorced, but they spent long periods of time separately, living in different houses or even in different countries, with only infrequent attempts to heal their marriage.
Ian with Blanche Blackwell, his mistress and mother of Island Records founder Chris Blackwell.
The combined stresses of life, his failing marriage, his lawsuit, and a life of constant travel, heavy alcoholism, and unceasing smoking began to take their tolls on Ian's health in the early 1960s.
Aging and sick, but still writing.
Doctors had always warned him of heart disease, and in 1961 he had his first heart attack. While he survived, the recovery was brutal for Ian, and he was forced to slow down the pace of his life dramatically.  Ian lasted another three years, publishing three more books and seeing the premiers of two James Bond movies, before he finally succumbed to his weak heart. On August 11, 1964, Ian Fleming suffered a massive heart attack after spending the day with his friends eating and drinking. He passed away early that morning, at the age of 56- his son Caspar's twelfth birthday. Ian's last recorded words were allegedly an apology to the ambulance drivers taking him to the hospital.
The books Ian Fleming wrote.
All of the Bond movies.
Ian's grave in Swindon.
Ian Fleming was buried at a church near his home in Swindon, England. Much of the fame that would become associated with Fleming's name and his James Bond character would end up happening after his death. Only two of his books were turned into movies during his life, with twenty-two more official movies, two more unofficial movies, and countless satirical movies and shows like the Austin Powers trilogy and the TV show Archer coming to fruition after Ian's death. Two more Bond novels written by Fleming were also published after his death, and dozens more were authorized by his family through other authors. That success does not even begin to look at the massive amount of James Bond memorabilia, video games, and overall pop culture presence that transcends the original books and movies completely. Many people may never read a James Bond book, or even watch a Bond movie, but they have seen and been impacted by the lasting effects of James Bond and Ian Fleming.
The first James Bond video game.
Sterling Archer, one of many James Bond knock-offs.


Ian Fleming always loved to be recognized and known. In part that was why he wanted to be a writer in the first place, and it was part of why he chose to be a spy rather than staying in the safer and more comfortable banking world. For so much of his success to have come posthumously probably would have bothered him greatly. But his successes cannot be denied. His life really must be looked at in two stages- his spying life and his writing life. In his spying life, he was one of the most creative and influential spies to take part in World War II, a man who masterminded several important operations and also directly contributed to the birth of the OSS, later the CIA. In his writing life, Ian Fleming created one of the most iconic book (and later movie) characters of all time. His books have sold more than 100 million copies, his movies have grossed nearly seven billion dollars, trailing only Harry Potter and Marvel for total sales. Fleming was also famous for his travels around the world, including his yearly excursions to his estate in Jamaica. And yet much of his life was filled with pain, broken relationships, illness, addiction, and his own cruel behaviors. As much as anyone I have ever studied, Ian Fleming was a man of too many complexities to ever truly understand. Like Roald Dahl, he could be friendly, engaging and creative, and then in a moment switch to being bitter, drunken, abusive and cruel. Describing him was incredibly difficult because every time I would begin to write about how mean he was, or how much people liked him, I would come across a story that highlighted the exact opposite. Ian Fleming was remarkably complex, well-traveled and accomplished, and he created one of the most iconic characters of all time. That impact cannot be ignored.
The iconic Ian Fleming with one of his character's guns.


  1. Conant, Jennet. The Irregulars. New York: Simon and Schuster (2008).
  2. Retrieved from September 20, 2016.
  3. Lycett, Andrew. Ian Fleming. London: Orion Books (1995).
  4. Spartacus Educational, "Ivar Bryce," retrieved 2 June, 2016 at
  5. Literary 007, "The Irregular Lives of Ian Fleming and Roald Dahl." Posted 15 February, 2014. Retrieved 2 June 2016 at
  6. Roald Dahl Timeline. Retrieved 27 July 2016 at
  7. A wide number of Wikipedia pages, including: Roald Dahl, Ian Fleming, Ivar Bryce, MI5, BSC, William Stephenson, Trout memo, 30 Assault Unit, and many more.

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