The British newspaper the Telegraph offers excerpts from A Constant Heart: The War Diaries of Maud Russell, 1939-1945.
Maud Russell (seen in the below photo) was a British socialite who was the mistress of Commander Ian Fleming (seen in the above photo), a Royal Navy intelligence officer and the future author of the James Bond thrillers.
They met in 1931 when Russell was 40 and Fleming just 23. There was a strong mutual attraction, and Fleming quickly became a regular guest at Mottisfont, Russell’s 2,000-acre estate in Hampshire, and at the glamorous parties she threw in her Knightsbridge home, attended by Cecil Beaton, Lady Diana Cooper, Clementine Churchill, Margot Asquith and members of the Bloomsbury Group.
To Fleming, Russell was a sophisticated and impeccably connected mentor who found him first a job in banking, introduced him to members of the Intelligence Corps and, later, paid for his Jamaican retreat, Goldeneye, where his 007 novels were written. To Russell, Fleming (named ‘I.’ in her diaries) was the dashing, charismatic young spy who became her close friend, her confidante – and her lover.
These entries from Russell’s private diary take place towards the end of the Second World War, when Fleming worked in naval intelligence and Russell, then 52, was recently widowed; it was a time when, despite the food shortages and air raids, the tide of the war was gradually turning in the Allies’ favour – and, despite his other liaisons, the couple spoke of marriage.
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