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Friday, November 19, 1999 Published at 13:53 GMT

The man behind Bond

Fleming gained his knowledge of the secret service working as a journalist

Although he always denied basing James Bond on himself, much of the inspiration for 007 came from the lifestyle of his creator - Ian Fleming.

He was born in 1908, the son of Conservative MP Valentine Fleming and the grandson of Scottish banker Robert Fleming.

When Valentine Fleming died in action in World War One - just short of Ian's ninth birthday - Winston Churchill wrote his obituary in The Times.

Fleming was educated at Eton and the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. But after a flirtation with the diplomatic service, he went into journalism in 1929 by joining Reuters news agency.

He went to work in its Moscow bureau, and in 1933 covered the trial of six British engineers from the Metropolitan-Vickers Company charged with spying and plotting against the Soviets - widely believed to have been a sham.

[ image: Daniela Bianchi as Tatiana Romanova]
Daniela Bianchi as Tatiana Romanova
His crisp style of writing impressed his colleagues, while a city filled with spies and secret police made an impression on him. A Russian secretary charged in the Vickers trial was the inspiration for Tatiana in From Russia With Love.

Reuters wanted to transfer him to the Far East, but instead he went into banking for a spell.

With war looming in 1939, he was recruited by the Royal Navy's intelligence unit - his knowledge of finance and languages made him an ideal man to do what he called "some hush-hush work at the Admiralty".

Ian Fleming in 1963 talks about 007 and his move into films
Much of his work as personal assistant to the director of naval intelligence, Admiral John Godfrey, was classified information.

He travelled widely with Admiral Godfrey around the world, and helped assault groups in obtaining enemy codes and secret equipment - and became only too aware of the horrific torture techniques employed by the enemy upon captured fellow agents.

[ image: Celebrated author Noel Coward was Fleming's Caribbean neighbour]
Celebrated author Noel Coward was Fleming's Caribbean neighbour
His debonair manner helped him both in work and away from work - he became friends with Lord Kemsley, who made him foreign manager of his newspapers, The Times and Sunday Times, when the war ended.

He negotiated a deal with Kemsley which enabled him to take eight weeks off each year to spend at the house in Jamaica he had bought - Goldeneye.

A neighbour of Noel Coward, he was also able to indulge in one of his passions - golf - on Friday afternoons.

Fleming's eye for the opposite sex was also one of his traits. But he was to settle down when he fell for Ann Rothermere, wife of Kemsley's rival newspaper proprietor, Lord Rothermere.

They married in 1952, the same year he wrote the first draft of a thriller - Casino Royale - in just seven weeks at Goldeneye.

To those who knew Fleming well, the tale of intrigue of intrigue, espionage and womanising seemed strangely familiar.

Casino Royale was a hit, even being televised in the US in 1954. In the following years he dedicated himself to its successors.

[ image: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was also made into a successful film]
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was also made into a successful film
Now based full-time in Jamaica, Fleming's fame grew. Among his other works was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - the story of a mad professor who invents an amazing flying car.

One of Bond's biggest fans was film-maker Cubby Broccoli, who became convinced 007 had potential to be a hit on the cinema screen. In 1957, he consulted one of his scriptwriters about a project - but had no time to follow it up.

When he returned to the idea, Canadian Harry Saltzman had beaten him to it and taken out an option on a Bond Movie.

Broccoli teamed up with Saltzman to form Eon Pictures - and Dr No was the result, making a star of Sean Connery and turning James Bond from literary hero to film idol.

Fleming was impressed with the results - and with Connery's portrayal of Bond - and also saw From Russia With Love and the rushes for Goldfinger.

[ image: Fleming fan Cubby Broccoli]
Fleming fan Cubby Broccoli
But his health had been failing since the late 1950s, as his lifestyle caught up with him.

He had a heart attack in 1961, and in 1964 he suffered a severe chest cold, combined with pleurisy. His recovery was slow, but he was determined to live his life as he had always done.

In the early hours of 12 August 1964, Fleming died of heart failure. He is buried in Sevenhampton, Wiltshire.

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Bond 19: More than enough

Alphabetical Bond

One girl is not enough

The many faces of Bond

The man behind Bond

Selling a super spy

Serenade to a spy

Blunder Bonds

The James Bond dossier