We all know who James Bond is, but how many of us know much about his creator, Ian Fleming, a master of espionage and thrillers? In this full-length biography, author Andrew Lycett tells the story of Ian Fleming's life proving that it was just as dramatic as that of his fictional creation. Educated at Eaton and Sandhurst, he joined Naval Intelligence in 1939 participating in both Operation Mincemeat and Operation Golden Eye. After the war, he became a journalist and, in 1953, wrote Casino Royale thereby introducing the world to an English spy named James Bond.
Set in London, Switzerland and Fleming's Jamaican estate Goldeneye, his life was peopled with luminaries like Noel Coward, Sean Connery, Ursula Andress, Bond film producer "Cubby" Broccoli and others. With direct access to Fleming's family and friends, Lycett goes behind the complicated façade of this enigmatic and remarkable man. Ian Fleming by Andrew Lycett is biography at its best—a glittering portrait of the brilliant and enigmatic man who created Agent 007.
Exhaustive and compulsively readable, Lycett's latest (first published in the U.K. in 1995) is billed as the first full-length Fleming biography to be published in America. Biographer Lycett (Dylan Thomas: A New Life) calls his subject "an immature child of the jazz age" a man of wealth and privilege who shared his fictional hero James Bond's fascination with women, gambling, and drinking. Fleming applied to Britain's Foreign Office for a job but to no avail, but thanks to the forceful lobbying of his snobbish and well-connected mother, he was hired by the Reuters news agency in London. During WWII, he worked for Britain's Naval Intelligence Division. One of the book's pleasures is reading about upper-class social life before, during, and after the war: Fleming and his wife, Ann, mingled with statesmen and notable cultural figures in London and at Goldeneye, their Jamaican retreat. But Fleming did have a darker side, collecting sadomasochistic erotica and being callous to women. Lycett uncovers the seeds of Bond in Fleming's life (though perhaps not as thoroughly as diehard fans would wish), as well as addressing the decline of Britain's power in the postcolonial world. In this anecdote-filled account, Lycett pays tribute to Fleming's colorful life, which was cut short by a heart attack in 1964 at age 56, just two years after Sean Connery starred in the film version of Dr. No. 8-page b&w photo insert.