"Ian Fleming: The Brain Behind Bond" was the final interview recorded with the author. It was first broadcast as a half hour documentary by CBC-TV's Explorations on August 17th, 1964 - just five days after Fleming died.
Th interview was carried out by Munroe Scott, a Candian writer and director, at Goldeneye in Jamaica. With the Caribbean sea in the background, a chain-smoking Fleming appears relaxed as he speaks candidly, articulately and intimitely about his own life and that of his fictional super-spy.
You can now watch the full interview below.
By Matthew Blackman
On May 12, 1952, Ian Fleming was having lunch at a restaurant in London with the South African writer William Plomer. The two had been friends for years and had worked together in Naval intelligence during World War II. “How,” Fleming suddenly asked, “do you get cigarette smoke out of a woman once you’ve got it in?”
Plomer, bemused, carried on eating, unsure what Fleming was talking about. “You can’t use ‘exhales,’ while ‘puffs out’ sounds silly.” According to Plomer’s biographer, Peter Alexander, Plomer looked up sharply and exclaimed: “You’ve written a book!” After a pause, Fleming admitted that he had. The book was Casino Royale, and Plomer would ultimately be the man who would get it into print, despite the fact that even Fleming’s publisher hated it.
In many ways Plomer was an unlikely person to steer the world’s most famous secret agent into being. Born in 1903 in the tiny dusty colonial outpost of Pietersburg, in northern South Africa, Plomer was bookish and reclusive. And, very un-Bond-like, he hated gadgets — he refused to have even a telephone in his house. But there was another side to him, a side that sustained friendships with people of diverse backgrounds and vastly different personalities.
Like George Orwell, Plomer was the son of a colonial civil servant and grew up between places. He was partly educated in Great Britain, partly in South Africa. And, also like Orwell, he diverged from his social set, avoiding college for a career as a sheep farmer in South Africa, even though all he ever wanted was to be a writer.
After a year of apprenticing on a sheep farm, Plomer went to Zululand to help his father, who had bought a broken-down old trading station in a beautiful, extremely remote part of the region. There, the 19-year-old Plomer sat down many nights with an oil lamp and a pencil to write his first novel, as well as try his hand at poetry.
The poetry he sent to a man by the name of John Langalibalele Dube, who lived about 80 miles away. Dube was the founding president of the African National Congress — the political party later led by Nelson Mandela — and editor of the Black-focused newspaper Ilanga Lase Natali (The Natal Sun).
Dube liked the poetry and published it. More than that, the two men became friends. Through this friendship and others with activists of colour, Plomer developed loathing for white South African racists, a feeling he expressed through satire in his first novel, Turbott Wolfe. When the 21-year-old Plomer finished Turbott Wolfe, he sent it unsolicited to Britain’s Hogarth Press, the publishing house run by Leonard and Virginia Woolf. Plomer claimed that the two were drawn to the manuscript, which dealt frankly with interracial love, only because it was written “with hard pencil on thin paper” — he had no typewriter and ordinary paper was heavy and expensive to mail.
The Woolfs decided to publish the novel immediately, and it was well-received in Britain and the United States. In South Africa, though, it was a different story: Many white racists in the country were horrified by the plot. Under considerable social pressure, Plomer — who at 22 had begun to realize and accept his homosexuality — jumped on a ship bound for Japan and wound up settling in London, in 1929. In later life, he wrote of his native country, which had by then begun the policies of apartheid: “I could not imagine living there in a state of tension that I should only find endurable if bent on martyrdom.”
While living in England, Plomer continued to write, publishing several novels, but he had no steady income until, a decade later, he was offered the position of literary adviser to the publisher Jonathan Cape. The job was not an easy one, as Cape, a tall and forbidding figure with iron-gray hair, was known to be a hard-nosed businessman from a tough working-class background. What’s more, Cape had a passionate dislike for fictional thrillers, which Plomer enjoyed. Plomer is said to have found it hard to work for Cape although he respected him as a publisher.
In 1929, Plomer received a party invitation from a man he had never met who professed to have enjoyed Turbott Wolfe — aspiring writer and journalist Ian Fleming. The two would strike up a lasting friendship. Although Plomer never shared Fleming’s passion for women, fast cars and gambling, their mutual enjoyment of witty conversation is what kept the friendship alive for more than 30 years, until Fleming’s death in 1964.
When Fleming finally gave Plomer Casino Royale to have a look at, Plomer “was greatly impressed by it,” Alexander says. The same could not be said for Plomer’s publishers. None of the company directors enjoyed the book or wanted to publish it, with one decrying the novel as “deeply shocking” and cynically violent. Cape himself only read it because of Plomer’s insistence that it had to be published, and would would never read another Bond novel again.
Still, Cape ended up publishing it in 1953 and in doing so created a cash cow for the publishing house. Throughout their friendship, Plomer continued to offer Fleming literary support: The novel Goldfinger, which has never gone out of print, is dedicated to him.
From The Sun newspaper
A collection of James Bond books, including one that seems to show Ian Fleming’s love of kinky sex, are set to sell for more than £1 million.
A first edition of From Russia, With Love is inscribed to his wife: “To Annie. With love — and lashes — Ian.”
The book, one of 114 being sold by a private collector, has a £35,000 estimate at a Sotheby’s auction in London.
One of the lots, priced at £120,000, is a final revised typescript of Diamonds Are Forever.
A copy of Live and Let Die presented to Winston Churchill has a note which reads “from whom I stole some words”.
Another Diamonds Are Forever copy is inscribed to Biffy Dunderdale, a spy who influenced the creation of Bond.
Altogether 114 books will be sold. A display at Sotheby's Bond Street gallery in London will run from November 6 to 10 and includes books, watches and an Aston Martin.
There is also a first edition of Moonraker inscribed to Raymond Chandler, the American detective novelist, who urged Fleming to keep writing about Bond. According to Sotheby's, Chandler's coaxing meant that Moonraker was the third story of 14, rather than the last.
Many fans know that Ian Fleming named his fictional spy after real-life ornithologist James Bond, but how many people know where the number 007 originated from?
Well, it turns out that Bond’s licence to kill number was named after a London bus.
Between 1934 and 1945, Ian Fleming lived at 22b Ebury Street, London, which later became a home of villain Sir Hugo Drax in Moonraker, as well as the starting point of a car chase to Dover.
Ebury Street is directly behind what was then the brand new Victoria Coach Station, which had opened in 1932.
In the early 1950s, when Fleming was forming the idea of Bond, he moved out of London to Kent. However, he would regularly travel back to London by a bus from either Dover or Canterbury.
And the number of this bus route was…007.
Casino Royale was published in 1953, and the rest is history. The bus was taken over by National Express in 1973, and a 007 coach service now runs nine times a day between Deal in Kent and London Victoria Coach station.
Nathan Rushton, the driver of the 007 bus, said: “While James Bond is more likely to be seen behind the wheel of a Bentley, it’s a massive honour to drive the 007 and it certainly attracts a lot of attention.
"People in Kent have always believed James Bond was named after this local service and I personally think the fact Ian Fleming also previously lived so close to the coach station at Victoria proves it – it’s just too much of a coincidence otherwise.”
Sights that can be spotted while aboard the 007 include Canterbury’s city walls, Dover and Deal castles and even France over the English Channel on a clear day.
Nathan added: “Bond is suave, sophisticated and devastatingly cool, so it’s quite funny to think he could have been named after a bus, but then again what could be more quintessentially British?”
If you have just robbed Fort Knox and have a cool £19.5 million in the bank, how about this for A View to a Kill!
Apartment 0.07 at Twenty Grosvenor Square, London, is named after Ian Fleming's super spy. The 5,863sq ft triplex has a double garage for both your Aston Martins, a lift, games room and private bar.
This Four Seasons residence is part of Finchatton's luxury 37-unit develoment in the heart of Mayfair - handy for a game of bridge at Blades, but a solid 50-minute walk to MI6 headquarters at Vauxhall Cross.
Visit 20gs.com/ to register your interest!
Photos copyright Simon Brown.
From the Daily Mail
A British spy working in Poland during the height of the Cold War was a 36-year-old man from Devon called James Bond.
Not only did the debonair agent share his name with Ian Fleming's famous creation, but he was also “interested in women” like his namesake, researchers have discovered.
Documents uncovered by investigators at Poland's Institute of National Remembrance show that the man, whose full name was James Albert Bond, arrived in Warsaw on February 18, 1964.
He used the cover of secretary-archivist at the British Embassy during his time in the country.
But his real mission, according to the documents from Poland's communist counter-intelligence agency, was to “penetrate military facilities”.
Researchers at the Institute of National Remembrance said: “James Bond came to Poland on February 18, 1964.
“His official position was secretary-archivist of the British Embassy's military attaché.
“The arrival of such a famous agent did not go unnoticed by the officers of Department II (counterintelligence) of the Ministry of the Interior.
“An operational surveillance case code-named ‘Samek’ was established and he was placed under strict surveillance.
“Bond was found to be talkative but very cautious and was interested in women.
“Contacts with Polish citizens - not found. In October and November 1964, he went with two attaché employees to the Bialystok and Olsztyn provinces to ‘penetrate military facilities’.”
They added: “The observation of the agent’s actions did not go unnoticed, he probably said that there was no chance of gaining valuable information.
“Therefore, on January 21, 1965, James Bond left the territory of the Polish People's Republic.
“After his stay, there were still records and fragmentary documents concerning the observation.”
Choosing espionage as an occupation is probably not the best idea if your real name is actually James Bond!
From the London Evening Standard
Winston Churchill’s “favourite” spy who inspired Bond girl Vesper Lynd in Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale was today honoured with a blue plaque.
The tribute to Christine Granville, Britain’s first and longest-serving female special agent, was unveiled at 1 Lexham Gardens Hotel in Kensington, London.
In the 1940s, it was known as the Shelbourne Hotel and was Granville’s London base after the Second World War.
Born Krystyna Skarbek in Warsaw in 1908, Granville joined British Intelligence after Germany invaded Poland in 1939. She completed various missions - including skiing over the snow-bound Polish border in temperatures of -30°C, smuggling microfilm across Europe which proved Hitler’s plans to invade the Soviet Union and rescuing French Resistance agents from the Gestapo.
So essential was she to British intelligence, she was often referred to as Churchill’s favourite spy.
She was also close friends with Fleming, who said she was an inspiration for his character Lynd when he was promoting the book in 1953.
Granville was murdered, aged 37, in London by an ex-lover who was later executed for the crime.
Both her alias and her birth name feature on the plaque.
Anna Eavis, Curatorial Director at English Heritage, said: “Christine Granville served Britain bravely and brilliantly during the Second World War. We hope that our blue plaque will help more people to discover her remarkable story and her connection with London.”
Clare Mulley, author of The Spy Who Loved, Granville’s biography, said: “All too often women in the resistance are remembered for the beauty and courage, while their achievements are overlooked. Krystyna Skarbek, aka Christine Granville, was one of the most effective special agents to serve Britain during the Second World War, male or female.
From Overdrive magazine.
Long before James Bond was driving Aston Martins in Ian Fleming's books, 007 was the proud owner of a 1930 4 ½-litre supercharged Bentley Blower.
Now, the iconic manufacturer is making 12 "brand-new" cars based on the original pre-war race cars, on which Bond's vehicle was very closely based. In fact, assembly of the very first engineering prototype has just begun, after a year of development. All 12 of the Blowers have already been accounted for, at an unspecified price rumoured to be over £1.5 million each.
If you think that's a high price, consider that the original run of four racing 4 ½-litre Blowers built by Sir Tim Birkin, one of the legendary 'Bentley Boys', have sold for well over that in auction. Birkin went on to make 50 more Blowers between 1929-1931, of which Bond's car was one. The Bentley Blowers are considered one of the Britain's finest racing cars, even though it's only its successor that was actually garnered victories for the brand in endurance racing.
Each new Blower Continuation will be painstakingly crafted by the Bentley Mulliner team from new parts, laser-scanned and faithfully reproduced from a complete teardown of one of the original cars, Blower No.2, as raced by Birkin himself at Le Mans.
And except for some safety upgrades, each new Blower will be an exact replica of the original. Complementing the 3D-scanned parts is information gleaned from the original technical drawings for the Blower from the 1920s, and some of the original toolings as well.
Currently, the Mulliner team and selected artisans have put together a new chassis from heavy-gauge steel, engine with its Amherst Villiers supercharger, radiator and assorted body fitments, including the headlights and fuel tank from steel and copper.
Some of the noteworthy details of the 4.4-litre four-cylinder racing engine which produced a heady 240PS include its aluminium pistons, overhead camshaft, and four-valve with twin spark ignition layout, not to mention the roots-style supercharger sitting proud at the front of the engine.
It was enough to take the 1.9-tonne Blower on to a top speed in excess of 210kmph, though a keen Bond-fan will know the spy has only ever taken it up to 175kmph in Fleming's Casino Royale.
British author William Boyd believes he has discovered the London home of James Bond, after researching the character’s creator Ian Fleming and his famous books for clues.
Fleming wrote a total of 14 Bond books but never revealed exactly where the secret agent lived, other than noting it was in the Chelsea neighbourhood.
But after re-reading all 14 before penning his own Bond continuation novel “Solo” in 2013, Boyd said he suspects the spy lives at number 25, Wellington Square, in Chelsea.
“That’s where James Bond’s flat was,” the writer said in an essay published in the Times Literary Supplement, detailing how he settled on the address.
“Obviously, James Bond is a fictional character and didn’t actually live anywhere,” he added. “However, it is strange how in the case of some fictional characters a kind of reality begins to take over their lives, as if they really did live and breathe, had an actual address and a mortgage.”
Boyd deployed sleuthing skills worthy of Bond himself to hunt down his home.
He began his mission with Fleming’s 1955 novel “Moonraker”, which describes it as “a comfortable flat in a plane-tree’d square off the King’s Road” — a famous street in Chelsea.
He used those details and some crucial coordinates in “Thunderball” (1961) — that the flat was a quick drive up the road to Hyde Park — to narrow the choice down to Wellington Square.
Boyd then examined Fleming’s social circle when he lived in London. The Bond creator was also a foreign editor at the Sunday Times newspaper, and Boyd discovered that a colleague at the newspaper, chief book reviewer Desmond MacCarthy, and his wife owned the flat at number 25, Wellington Square.
The couple were “legendary entertainers and their home became a kind of salon”, according to Boyd, who noted they were also acquainted with one of Fleming’s close friends.
“The circumstantial evidence is compelling. It is highly probable that Fleming went to one or more of the MacCarthys’ parties in Wellington Square,” he added.
Concluding his case, Boyd found the flat matched Fleming’s description of Bond’s home in “From Russia, with Love” (1957) as having “a long big-windowed sitting room”.
The spy’s sitting room is also described as “book-lined” — which Boyd interprets as a nod to MacCarthy, who was a member of the Bloomsbury Group of 20th-century intellectuals.
In a final coincidental quirk, Boyd discovered Wellington Square is a stone’s throw from Bywater Street, where another famous fictional spy lived: John le Carre’s George Smiley.