James Bond, British government agent
106 years ago, on May 28, 1908, Ian Lancaster Fleming was born in Mayfair to an eventual member of parliament and his wife. Throughout his life, Fleming would be a journalist, a Naval Intelligence officer, and – the role in which he is most remembered – the author who introduced the world to James Bond.
After World War II, Fleming was demobilized from his position at British Naval Intelligence and began working as a newspaper manager, a job allowing him three months vacation. Fleming, whose ambition had long been to write a spy novel, used those winter months to retreat to Jamaica.
Uneasy about his upcoming wedding to Ann Charteris, who divorced the second Viscount Rothermere after her long-time affair with Fleming was uncovered, Fleming began writing the novel which would become Casino Royale.
The novel’s hero, the dryly named James Bond, was a thinly veiled version of the man Fleming wanted himself to be – and soon became recognized as the man every man wanted to be. Bond was originally supposed to be, in Fleming’s words, “an extremely dull, uninteresting man to whom things happened.” Thus, Fleming chose the most boring name that he could find – James Bond, the American ornithologist who wrote the Birds of the West Indies field guide.
However, this idea for a Hitchcock-style hero was soon discarded in favor of the world-trotting, womanizing super spy who spend his time eating fine French dinners and drinking champagne and cocktails when not masterfully quelling whatever dastardly plans the novel’s villain has in store. Continue reading