On this day in 1953, Ian Fleming’s first novel ‘Casino Royal’ is published. It introduces the world to fictional spy James Bond.
For Fleming, M stood for mother. His relationship with his mother was not harmonious. He later recalled her as a fussy and overprotective, and gave a character in his novels the same nickname – “M” – that he had given his mother when he was a child. (M, the character however, was based on his secret service boss.)
Fleming was recruited to work in the naval intelligence service at the outbreak of World War II and eventually rose to the rank of commander. Although his training encompassed the full range of intelligence-gathering techniques, including field-agent operations, he was never sent undercover. He also assisted in an elaborate wartime intelligence hoax, planting false documents on the body of a sailor meant to be found by the Germans. The details of the project later formed the basis for the film The Man Who Never Was. He developed an interest in special equipment, and enjoyed showing friends such espionage devices as hollowed-out golf balls and tear-gas pens.
A martini, shaken, not stirred was the drink of choice for both creator and character — the two shared the belief that stirring would bruise the gin in the cocktail.
Casino Royale was released as a film in 1967 as a comedy spy parody. The film starred David Niven and Peter Sellers. It was remade in 2006 as part of the action-packed drama series of Bond flicks the world has come to adore, this time starring Daniel Craig — his first time starring as 007.
Bond Film #1
The first Bond film was Dr. No, which was released in 1962. Fleming had suggested David Niven or Roger Moore for the lead and was initially unimpressed with Sean Connery. Moore would go on to play Bond years later starting in 1973’s Live and Let Die.
The Bond Books
Fleming wrote all 12 novels and one short story collection at his house in Jamaica. Truman Capote was his houseguest while he wrote From Russia, With Love. He had the habit of using his friends’ names for characters in his books, appropriating, among others, the name “Goldfinger” from a friend’s relative. While sales figures for the novels were respectable, it was only after it was revealed that President John F. Kennedy was a devoted fan of the series that it became a phenomenon.
The Moody Golfer
Fleming was prone to moodiness and depression. He had an extensive collection of risqué literature and images, which he liked to show off to unsuspecting guests, monitoring their reactions. He played golf obsessively, even in the worst kind of weather.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
He wrote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as a children’s book during his convalescence after a severe heart attack. The tale of an eccentric family who owned a flying automobile was one he had originally told to his son Casper, as a bedtime story.
For more about Ian Fleming and his books, visit his official site.