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The Centenary Of The Birth Of Ian Fleming, Creator Of James Bond

David Leigh

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Next year marks the centenary of the birth of Ian Fleming, whose time spent in Naval Intelligence during the Second World War proved to be the catalyst that led to the creation of James Bond, the most iconic character to emerge from 20th century fiction.

The life of Ian Fleming

Fleming was born on May 28th 1908 in Mayfair, a wealthy district of London, and his early years were entirely privileged. However, First World War ensured that Fleming was left fatherless and from that moment on he found his life dominated by his mother, who was affectionately known as “M".

Fleming's education and early career were entirely unremarkable and after several false starts he was sent to Moscow to cover the show trial of a number of Vickers employees under Stalin's regime, one of his early triumphs.

With the outbreak of war in 1939, Fleming was recruited into naval Intelligence by Rear Admiral John Godfrey, Director of Naval Intelligence as his assistant. Initially as a lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) he was subsequently promoted to Lieutenant Commander, then Commander, the rank he was later to attribute to James Bond.

Although he himself saw no action during the war he was involved with some of Great Britain's top-secret operations and directly responsible for conceiving a number of plans.

Following the cessation of hostilities Fleming went to work as Foreign Manager for Kemsley Newspapers, owner of the Sunday Times. His job was to use his contacts to create a network of reporters that rivalled Reuters and one of the key clauses in his contract allowed him two months every year on vacation.

This time was spent at Goldeneye, his house in Jamaica and it was here, in 1952 that he began writing Casino Royale, allegedly to take his mind off his impending marriage.

Casino Royale was published in 1953 and immediately attracted attention in the UK. It took several more books and appearance of From Russia, With Love on the reading list of JFK for James Bond to really take off in the United States, but there was no turning back and with the film series beginning in 1962 with Dr No the Bond phenomenon took off.

Unfortunately Ian Fleming did not live to enjoy his full success; he died on August 8th 1964, before the release of the iconic third 007 film, Goldfinger.

Centenary Celebrations

Fans of the fictional super spy have a lot to look forward to in 2008, with a number of events announced and more in the pipeline. So far the following have been announced:

January 8th 2008

The Royal Mail is set to issue a special set of postage stamps featuring covers from six of the fourteen books. The stamps are available to pre-order on a limited set of first day covers and feature Casino Royale and Dr No as first class stamps, while airmail stamps will feature Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, For Your Eyes Only and From Russia With Love.

April 17th 2008 - March 1st 2009

The Imperial War Museum will host an exhibition called For Your Eyes Only - Ian Fleming and James Bond, focusing on Fleming and his creation in a historical context. It is the first major exhibition devoted to Ian Fleming and look at how his experiences in Naval Intelligence and the post war climate influenced the 007 books and stoked the James Bond phenomenon.

May 28th 2008

The day of the Fleming centenary will be marked by the publication of a new 007 novel written by Sebastian Faulks. Entitled Devil May Care, the book continues Fleming's chronology and sees James Bond back in action in the 1960s. The book was commissioned by Ian Fleming Publications Ltd and is published in the UK by Penguin Books.

As if this were not enough for the Bond fan, 2008 will also see the return of Daniel Craig as James Bond in the new film from Eon Productions. Currently scheduled for November, the 22nd film in the series to eagerly awaited after Craig's gritty portrayal of Bond in Casino Royale.

You can find out more information about James Bond and the Ian Fleming centenary celebrations planned for next year at


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