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The Life of Ian Fleming
Ian Fleming lived a remarkable life in a world full of compromises. To sum up his life in the short space available would be an impossible task even for me, so all that follows is a simple outline. I would recommend further reading
Ian Fleming was born in 1908 as the son of Valentine Fleming, and the grandson of the wealthy Scottish banker Robert Fleming. Ian Lancaster Fleming grew up as a member of a rare class of Englishmen for whom all options in life were open. The privilege of class and respect came not just from his grandfather's money, because wealth alone in England does not guarantee "open doors". The Fleming family earned their social stripes with service and blood. Ian's father was a service-oriented land-owner in Oxfordshire and a member of Parliament. When Valentine Fleming died in the Great War, Ian was almost nine. Winston Churchill wrote the obituary for the Times. Fleming's mother, Evelyn St. Croix Rose Fleming, inherited Valentine's large estate in trust, making her a very wealthy woman. The trust, though, cut her out if she ever re-married. This provision virtually guaranteed that she would remain forever Valentine's widow, regardless of other loves or circumstances.
The knowledge of Ian's late father's looming wealth, and Ian's lack of access to it was bound to make the young Fleming feel disinherited. The unattainable Fleming fortune and high achievements of Valentine and Peter, Ian's older brother, seem to have put a chip on Ian's shoulder. As Ian failed to fill their shoes, it appears he became more determined to build his own empire, create his own identity within the family, and be praised for his own successes.
Fleming had a short career at a military academy called Sandhurst. Ian's streak of independence and apparent need to make his own identity did not fit well with conventional military conduct. Officially, though, Fleming left after being caught out after curfew.
He wrote some short stories and some poems, but made no plans, it seems, about being an author. Eventually, Fleming set his sights on the foreign service exam, but to his grave disappointment did not make the grade. Nonetheless, Fleming had set a course for himself and worked hard to achieve his own goals. After the failure to join the Foreign Service, Fleming turned to his brother's profession. Following in Peter's footsteps, Fleming became a journalist, joining Reuters. Fleming's greatest success in his brief Reuters career was the reporting he did on a spy trial in Russia. While Fleming did not scoop all of his competition, he did impress his fellow journalists. Ultimately, though, Ian was the "other Fleming" journalist, as his brother Peter hopped the globe writing colorful news from many distant and exotic locations. Beyond the family implications, Fleming also discovered just how little money journalists made.
Ian quit his job reporting and became a banker. Ian had enough money to host dinner parties for his lose-knit group Le Cercle gastronomique et des jeux de hasard. Fleming's love of the off-beat and simple elegance impressed his friends. High-stakes bridge games, elaborate meals and indifferent romances filled Fleming's off-work hours. Ian also began a considerable book collection which was later recognized by the Library of Congress.
By 1939, it appears Fleming had become bored with the plodding day-to-day existence of a banker. The ups and downs of the stock market apparently did not provide enough intrigue for him. During his Reuters days, Fleming had made friends in the Foreign Office, and maintained them even as a banker. In 1939, Fleming oddly took on an assignment for the Times to return to the Soviet Union to report on a trade mission. It appears that Fleming, in fact, was spying spying all the time for the Foreign Office.
In May of 1939, Fleming started a more formal attachment to the intelligence service, working with Naval Intelligence. Soon, he was full-time assistant to the director, taking the rank of Lieutenant, and later Commander. Fleming became the right-hand man to one of Britain's top spymasters, Admiral John Godfrey.
During the last year of the war, Fleming traveled to Jamaica for a Naval conference. The trip, though brief, revealed the lush island to Fleming. Here there was no war, no rationing, no food shortages. Fruit lay rotting on
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Ian Fleming, Bibliophiles, Birdwatchers, James Bond, Casino Royale, On Her Majestys Secret Service, Octopussy and The Living Daylights, From Russia, with Love, Diamonds Are Forever, Goldeneye, Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang, You Only Live Twice
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