Robert Harling’s recently published memoir of Ian Fleming sheds further light on James Bond’s creator.
Buy from Amazon UK
One book that seems to have largely flown beneath the radar over the last few weeks is Robert Harling’s personal memoir of Ian Fleming.
Harling was a typographer, designer, journalist and novelist who knew Fleming well. They first met in 1939, when Fleming brought in Harling to redesign the Admiralty’s weekly intelligence report after learning of him through his editorship of Typography journal.
Their paths were to cross throughout the Second World War and Harling later served in 30 Assault Unit, Ian Fleming’s “Red Indians” tasked with the capture of German military secrets. The unit moved ahead of advancing allied forces to identify and secure all types of intelligence that could benefit the allies. Towards the close of war Harling reported directly to Fleming on a handful of undercover missions.
It was to Harling that Fleming first slip, in France after having met General Patton, that he intended to write “the spy story to end all spy stories”.
After the war the two men dined frequently at Scott’s and L’Etoile and would discuss various aspects of the lives. The memoir is surprisingly frank and discusses the sexual exploits of both, including Fleming’s now well-known penchant for sadomasochism. Harling and his wife visited Fleming and his wife (and vice versa) on numerous occasions, including a single visit to Goldeneye.
The great thing about the book, which Harling stipulated should only be published after his death, is how Harling’s first-hand account of Fleming really captures his speech patterns and you get a feel for what he was like to spend time with.
It isn’t a replacement for the biographies of Fleming but does help to round out James Bond’s creator further and shed light on his personality and foibles.
If you are interested in Ian Fleming’s life and want to understand more about him then this is definitely a book to add to your library.
Robert Harling’s Ian Fleming: A Personal Memoir is available from Amazon UK. It will be available in the US from June 2016.