Ian Fleming: the birth of James Bond

Ian Fleming and Ann Rothermere were married in the town hall of Port Maria on the north shore of Jamaica on 24th March 1952, with Noel Coward and Cole Lesley as witnesses, followed by what was reportedly an alcohol soaked wedding breakfast.

Ian had been spending his final bachelor days sitting at his typewriter – according to him to help take his mind of the impending wedding – finally getting to work on his “the spy story to end all spy stories”.

His morning routine consisted of a swim, breakfast and three hours of work before noon. After lunch he would take a siesta and then return to his desk to make corrections.

The precise date that he started work on Casino Royale is unknown – some time between mid-January and mid-February 1952 – and according to John Pearson, who worked for Ian at the Sunday Times and wrote his first biography, it was completed on March 18th, an average of 1000-2000 words per day.

While the character of James Bond was based on a variety of commandos and agents known to Fleming during his time in Naval Intelligence, he wanted to give his hero a plain sounding name. He eventually found a name that sounded right when looking at his copy of “Field Guide to Birds of the West Indies” – the author’s name was James Bond.

When he returned to London to start a new life with his pregnant wife and two teenage stepchildren, Fleming’s hands were full, and their son Caspar was born on August 12th 1952.

However, he did find time to meet William Plomer for lunch in May, he admitted to his friend that he’d written a book. Plomer worked for the publisher Cape and when Plomer finally persuaded Fleming to send him the manuscript he was impressed enough to send it to one of his colleagues. When it was given the go ahead, Ian agreed terms with Cape directly, as he had no agent, and designed the dust cover artwork himself.

In mid-January 1953, he travelled to New York, where he had visited Harlem’s jazz clubs previously, and took the train down to St Petersburg in Florida to research his next book, before heading on to Jamaica.

Casino Royale was published on April 13th 1953 – James Bond had been unleashed on the world.


For more comprehensive information on the life of Ian Fleming see Andrew Lycett’s excellent biography, available at Amazon.co.uk/Amazon.com.

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