Back to the HMS Repulse crew list

Ian Fleming



The creator of the character of James Bond

By: John Waters 

Ian Fleming did not just create the character of James Bond; he personified him by living an exciting life. With his suave style and long history of lavished background he was almost born into the part of his later creation. Ian Fleming was born on May 8th, 1908 to his father, Valentine Fleming, and his mother, Beatrice Fleming (Lycett 12). He was the grandson of the famous Scottish banking pioneer, Robert Fleming (Rosenberg 5). Ian also had three brothers named Peter, Richard, and Michael. He hated his brother Peter during most of his childhood. This was due to his brother being very successful in academics and got his fathers attention. Fist fights usually broke out between the two of them (Lycett 15).
He loved his mother, but he was always rebelling against her because, he didn't like the thought of her controlling his life (Lycett 28). Ian's father did seem more like a teacher than a father him. He always encouraged Ian to take part in sports such as track. The father even taught him golf (Rosenberg 8). Since his father and his brother were very successful, Ian felt a desire to become successful himself. Ian attended Eton High School and joined the track team there and became an outstanding athlete (Cork 1). But, his stay at Eton was short lived due to some trouble he was in that involved women and a motor vehicle accident (Rosenberg 20). Apparently, Fleming stole his father's vehicle and went to a party where he drank a lot and met women that he later invited to ride with him. One of the women distracted Fleming and he ran into a tree (Lycett 31). During the expulsion of high school, Ian's father died in World War 1 during a battle in France on Sunday 20 May 1917 (. All the inherited money went to Ian's mother. With the stipulation that she would remarry, Ian was pressured into getting money of his own. The widowed mother put him in another school called Tennerhof High School. It was there that he started to gain girlfriends and have an expensive taste of food and automobiles. People who went to Tennerhof with Ian remembered him as being very arrogant and difficult. There were other's that swear he was found to be charming, handsome, witty, and a lively aristocrat. But, Ian was having problems academically. Ian's mother knew a married couple that could help Ian. So he would visit them one day a week for tutoring. Ian did graduate and still desired to be more successful than his brother and father. Ian enrolled in Sandhurst: Royal Academy. He did much better in his studies since there were no women around the college. There he took the final military exams and scored very poorly. He was in danger of not graduating but there was an essay section of the test that enabled him to take a job as a reporter for the British Navy. Ian took on the job with great ease. He outsmarted the older, much more experienced by getting the information to the press much faster than any other reporter.
Official were impressed with his work and promoted him straight to lieutenant on the Royal Navy. He was stationed on the HMS Repulse. His main job was to plan operations and attacks. He was not comfortable at all. Ian wrote poetry about his father's death during his service on the ship. He wouldn't show the poetry to anyone. During a mission that Ian had planned out himself, a crew member had committed mutiny and was later found to be a spy for the Germans. Ian fought in hand to hand combat with him and took him into custody. He even interrogated the man himself. Another mission that was unrelated took Ian to Jamaica. He had fallen in love with the land. He bought a beach house on a comfortable lot near the beach so that he could live there once his naval term was up. He called the house "Goldeneye' because of the wonderful view every room in the house had. Ian lived in Goldeneye two months a year until his naval term was over and he could live there permanently. The working conditions for writing were ideal. So he wrote more poetry but not all of it was about his dead father. The food at Goldeneye however was described to resemble that of and armpit. Fleming crossed himself "before every morsel. Goldeneye was such a wonderful place that he saw it a crime to take up all the beauty. So, he let people stay at Goldeneye for a small fee. This is how he met his women. Fleming would go out on the town with one to three girls a night. He would buy his beloved rich food, drive his classic automobiles, and especially seduce his women until he met Ann Charteris. They met when a girl did not up on one of Ian's dates and Ann kept him company. It wasn't long until Ian married Ann at Goldeneye in 1952. It was said that the marriage had devolved since the ceremony. Ian Fleming had the idea to write a novel about a British spy. He never put his thought to paper until his wife, Ann, encouraged him to write his first novel. Before he could, Ian had to figure out the specifics of his main character. He first thought that his character should have a code number. He remembered a number that he learned during his naval service. The number was the German diplomatic code used to send zimmerman telegraph Berlin to Washington. That number was 007. The next trick was the name. At Goldeneye, Ian was working this problem out with two friends: Harry Bond and James Atkins. They pondered over names until Ian stopped and took his two friends names and switched them to "Harry Atkins" and "James Bond". Ian chose the ladder. His friends did not seem to mind the use of their names. There was a problem though. Ian found that there was a famous ornithologist named "James Bond". He contacted the man and invited him over to stay at Goldeneye to discuss his character. The ornithologist loved the idea and gave him consent to use his name.
Ian wrote his novel in quite a rush. There was no deadline but Ian felt that it should be done as soon as possible. He wrote his main character to be 6' tall, muscular and athletic, in his mid-thirties, with gray-blue eyes. John Pearson has dated the birth of James Bond to be the morning of January 15, 1952. He added: "Casino Royal' was written and finished in Goldeneye on March 18th, writing a 62,000 word manuscript in eight weeks would have been an achievement. But, there is evidence that he might have completed it in a shorter amount of time." Ian Fleming had doubts that "Casino Royale" would succeed but it did and so he continued on to write other bond books such as "Live and Let Die", "Moonraker", "Diamonds are Forever", "With Russia, With Love", and "Dr. No". When "Dr. No" was published, Movie producers Albert Broccoli and Harry Salzman were where interested in making the book into a movie. They approached Ian with a proposition to make "Dr. No" into a movie. If the movie did well they would produce other "Bond" movies. During the negotiations and production of "Dr. No" Ian completed "Goldfinger", "For Your Eyes Only", "Octa*censored*", and "The Spy Who Loved Me". The movie, "Dr. No" was a huge hit and Ian had the feeling that he finally reached the success that he hoped to achieve over his father and brother. Other movies were made while Ian Fleming continued to write. That is until 1964 when Ian Fleming died of a fatal heart attack while at Royal St. Georges Golf Club. Ian Fleming was a man of many visions, and talents. It wasn't until after his death that James Bond was a British, sexual, and heroic icon. A total of 20 "Bond Films" have been made so far. Even more James Bond books have been written. Ian Fleming will live on with infamy and legend. 

Work Cited:

Bruce A. Rosenberg "Ian Fleming". Boston: United Publishing, 1981

Andrew Lycett "Ian Fleming: The Man Behind James Bond" Kansas City: Universal Press, 1995 
John Cork "The Life of Ian Fleming (1908-1964)"

Please contact Andy (webmaster) with any information.

Andy Wade (Webmaster)

Information provided by John Waters on this Website

This is the record of Ian's Fathers death during WW1:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission record:

In Memory of
"C" Sqdn., Queen's Own Oxfordshire Hussars
who died on
Sunday 20 May 1917 . Age 35 . 
Additional Information: Son of Robert Fleming; husband of Evelyn C. Fleming, of 118, Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, London. Member of Parliament for South Oxon, and father of Ian Fleming the creator of "James Bond, Secret Agent 007". 
Grave or Reference Panel Number: II. E. 40.