Ian Lancaster Fleming (1908 - 1964) MP

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Birthplace: Mayfair, London, U.K.
Death: Died in Canterbury, Kent, U.K.
Occupation: Author, journalist and Naval Intelligence Officer
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About Ian Lancaster Fleming

Best known for his novels about the British spy James Bond, Ian Fleming was ranked by The Times (of London) fourteenth on its list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945." Fleming chronicled Bond's adventures in twelve novels and nine short stories, a literary output that has sold over 100 million copies worldwide, making it one of the most popular series of related novels of all time. He also wrote the children's story Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and two works of non-fiction.

Fleming was born on May 28, 1908 in Mayfair, a wealthy district of London. His father was Valentine Fleming, a British Member of Parliament and his mother Evelyn St. Croix Rose. Fleming's elder brother Peter became a travel writer. He also had two younger brothers, Michael and Richard Fleming (1910–77) and an illegitimate half-sister, the cellist Amaryllis Fleming. Ian was a grandson of the Scottish financier Robert Fleming, who founded the Scottish American Investment Trust and the merchant bank Robert Fleming and Co (since 2000, part of JP Morgan Chase). Sir Christopher Lee, who went on to become a well-known British horror film actor, was his step-cousin and his brother Peter married the stage actress Celia Johnson, later Dame Celia Johnson. Ian Fleming had nephews Rory Fleming, Matthew Fleming who played cricket for England, and a great-nephew, the composer Alan Fleming-Baird.

He was educated at three independent schools: first at Durnford School, a preparatory school on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset, near to the estate of the Bond family, who could trace their ancestry back to an Elizabethan spy called John Bond and whose motto was Non Sufficit Orbis - The World Is Not Enough. He then attended two independent schools in Berkshire: first, Sunningdale School near Ascot, and then Eton College at Eton, Berkshire, and the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. After an early departure from the prestigious officer training school, he opted to study languages at a private school in Austria.

Following an unsuccessful application to join the Foreign Office, Fleming worked as a sub-editor and journalist for the Reuters news agency, and then as a stockbroker in the City of London.

On the eve of World War II, Fleming was recruited into naval intelligence. Owing in part to his facility with languages, he was a personal assistant to Admiral John H. Godfrey, who served as the model for James Bond's commanding officer, "M".

Fleming was put in charge of a special commando unit (from behind his desk in Whitehall) and was involved in the plot to wash up a dead body on occupied Europe containing false intelligence about Allied landings.

During the last year of the war Fleming visited Jamaica on military business and decided that he would work to make this tropical paradise his home. He set about making this goal happen and did it with style. He designed and built a home in Jamaica he called Goldeneye.

He left naval intelligence after the war, having attained the rank of Commander, and kept up his rank with the Royal Naval Voluntary Reserve for some years, having to undergo two weeks training a year. There is little evidence that Fleming carried out any of the exploits that he later attributed to James Bond, however what is clear is that Bond would have been unlikely to come about had Fleming not spent the time he did in the intelligence services.

Indeed Fleming's intelligence work provided the background for his spy novels. In 1953, he published his first novel, Casino Royale. In it he introduced secret agent James Bond, also famously known by his code number, 007 - which gave him a “licence to kill”. It is believed that in this initial story he based the female character "Vesper Lynd" on real life SOE agent, Christine Granville.

Besides the twelve novels and nine short stories he wrote featuring James Bond, Fleming is also known for the children's story, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

In 1961, he sold the film rights to his already published as well as future James Bond novels and short stories to Harry Saltzman, who, with Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli, co-produced the film version of Dr. No (1962). For the cast, Fleming suggested friend and neighbour Noël Coward as the villain Dr. Julius No, and David Niven or, later, Roger Moore as James Bond. Both were rejected in favour of Sean Connery, who was both Broccoli and Saltzman's choice.

Dr. No proved to be an instant sensation and sparked a spy craze through the rest of the 1960s. It was followed by From Russia with Love (1963), the second and last James Bond movie Ian Fleming saw.

Fleming died of a heart attack in Kent in August, 1964. He was only 56. His widow, Ann Geraldine Mary Fleming (1913-1981), and son Caspar Robert Fleming (1952–1975), are buried next to him.

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Ian Fleming's Timeline

1908
May 28, 1908
London, U.K.
1952
March 24, 1952
Age 43
1952
Age 43
1964
August 12, 1964
Age 56
Canterbury, Kent, U.K.