Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Real Reason Ian Fleming Wrote 'Casino Royale,' The First James Bond Thriller

Andrew Lycett, the author of good biograhy of Ian Fleming, offers a piece on on why Fleming wrote the first James Bond thriller.

Ian Fleming's mind was a jumble of conflicting thoughts and emotions when he sat down to his first draft of Casino Royale in Jamaica in February 1952.

He liked to joke that he finally got round to writing his first James Bond novel because he needed something to take his mind off his impending marriage to Ann, the striking dark-haired aristocratic woman with whom he had an on-off affair for over a decade, and who had recently divorced her second husband, Lord Rothermere, owner of the powerful Daily Mail newspaper.

But this was a typical Fleming flim-flam. He had been talking for several years about his desire to write the 'spy novel to end all spy novels'. But his attention had simply drifted in other directions.

After hostilities ended, he had been recruited as Foreign Manager of another London-based newspaper, the Sunday Times, a job that required him to build up a network of foreign correspondents, not so different from the agents with whom he liaised when he was the influential war-time Personal Assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence, Admiral John Godfrey.

In that earlier job, he had been Godfrey's gate-keeper in Room 39 of the Admiralty. He dealt directly with MI6 and the other secret services on behalf of his boss. He saw agents going to and returning from the field. He played a major role in liaising on intelligence matters with President Roosevelt's special enjoy, Colonel "Wild" Bill Donovan, whom he visited in Washington in the summer of 1941 and helped draw up guidelines for the combined US intelligence agency which would later become the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and then the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). One of his memos detailing the ideal American agent seems in retrospect to anticipate the qualities of James Bond. Donovan later presented him with a .38 Colt Police Positive revolver inscribed "For Special Services."

Fleming was essentially a bureaucrat during the war. But, being an imaginative man (he had written poetry in his youth), he could not help thinking about a more active role as a secret agent.

Before James Bond could make his first appearance at Royale Les Eaux in Casino Royale, however, Fleming had to get his own life in order. 

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

You can also read my column on Ian Fleming and James Bond via the below link:

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