Ajay Chowdhury at MI6-Hq - the James Bond website, not the British Secret Intelligence Service - covered the British release of the much-anticipated new Ian Fleming biography by Nicholas Shakespeare.
As I noted here before, I’ve been an Ian Fleming aficionado since my teens, so I look forward to reading the new biography when it is released in the U.S.
I’m particularly interested in reading about Ian Fleming’s WWII experiences as the assistant to Admiral John Godfrey, the Director of British Naval Intelligence. (I wrote a piece on Fleming’s intelligence commando group, 30 Assault Unit, for Counterterrorism magazine some years ago).
Much classified information about Royal Navy Commander Ian Fleming and the British Naval Intelligence Division in WWII has been declassified since the previous biographies of the creator of James Bond, and Nicholas Shakespeare includes the newly declassified information in the book.
On Tuesday, 17th October 2023, Harvill
Secker publishers celebrated the release of their new biography, 'Ian Fleming:
The Complete Man' by Nicholas Shakespeare. The launch event was at Tophams
Hotel in Ebury Street, next door to Flat 22B where Ian lived in his formative
years commemorated by an English Heritage blue plaque. Published on Global
James Bond Day, 5th October 2023, the book party assembled a number of key
persons from Fleming’s life. Fueled by champagne and rather potent Vesper
Martinis, the audience was addressed by the book’s editor, Liz Foley who then
introduced Kate Grimond, Ian’s niece – nursing a broken arm – and then Mr.
Nicholas Shakespeare’s father was a
newspaperman whose first job was working under Ian Fleming’s first official
biographer, John Pearson at the Times Literary Supplement in 1953. Fate’s
finger pointed at Nicholas. Pearson lent his working papers to Shakespeare’s
project and the biographical baton was passed on.
The resultant 700-page-plus tome was
drawn from hundreds of new interviews with the Fleming family, heirs,
associates, and friends. As Grimond, daughter of Ian’s older brother Peter,
observed, ‘The Life Of Ian Fleming’ by John Pearson, published in 1966 was
hampered by being too proximate to family and the era in which it was written,
“Bletchley Park was still to be outed!”
Grimond paid tribute to Andrew
Lycett’s “comprehensive” 1995 biography, ‘Ian Fleming’, but pointed out that in
the last 30 years, the amount of declassified material released had made
another work worthwhile. Grimond thanked some of the notable guests present.
Veteran newspaper editor and historian, Max Hastings, Shakespeare’s old boss,
who Grimond recalled had opined Fleming’s work had the “highest descriptive
gifts.” Ian’s step-daughter, Fionn Morgan, still a spritely presence, who Kate
felt “knew Ian best” was one of the last direct connections with that era.
Grimond thanked bibliographer Jon Gilbert and the many fan organizations,
especially noting the US-based charity, the Ian Fleming Foundation.
You can read the rest of Ajay Chowdhury’s piece via the below link:
You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on Royal Navy Commander Ian Fleming via the below link:
Note: Below is a photo of actor Sean Connery and Ian Fleming on the set of the film Dr. No, and beneath is a photo of Ian Fleming's biographer Nicholas Shakespeare.