creator of James Bond 007, was struck by a heart attack whilst
vacationing at Sandwich with
his wife and 12 year-old son on August 12th, 1964. In the ambulance
speeding him to Canterbury, where he died three hours after arrival,
he managed one last civilized Bond-like gesture, "I'm sorry to
have troubled you chaps," he told attendants.
Below are obituaries published the following
day by two of the world's foremost newspapers: The Times of London
and The New York Times.
Mr Ian Fleming, whose death at the
age of 56 is announced on another page, was one of the most successful
and controversial thriller writers in recent years.
Ian Lancaster Fleming was born in 1903, son
of Major Valentine Fleming, MP, DSO. He was educated at Eton
and Sandhurst, and
then at Munich and Geneva universities. In 1929, having failed
to secure a place in the Diplomatic Service, he joined Reuter's
at a time when the international wire services were struggling
for supremacy. 'Reuter's was great from in those days,' Fleming
said afterwards, 'a very good mill. The training there gives
you a good straightforward style. Above all, I have to thank
Reuter's for getting my facts right.'
He covered the trial of the Vickers engineers
in Moscow in 1933, and was offered the job of Reuter's assistant
manager in the Far East. He decided instead to seek his fortune
in the City, an attempt which continued, without much success,
first as a banker, then as a stockbroker, until he joined the
Navy in 1939. As personal assistant to the Director of Naval
Intelligence, he found the war 'intensely exciting'. When it
was over, Lord Kemsley offered him the foreign managership of
Kemsley )now Thomson) newspapers. Fleming accepted on condition
that he could have two months' holiday a year to spend at his
house, Goldeneye, in Jamaica, where he subsequently did most
of his writing.
If his war experiences and his post-war job
provided the background for his thrillers, Fleming maintained
that it was his marriage
to Anne Viscountess Rothermere in 1952 which spurred him to start
writing. 'I was in the process of getting married,' he said,
'which is a very painful thing to do at the age of 44; so to
take me mind off the whole business, I sat down and wrote a novel.'
The noel was a spy story, Casino Royale (1953), remotely derived
from a real case in the history of Soviet espionage activities
in France: it introduced the handsome, ruthless British agent,
James Bond ('007 - licensed to kill'), and the various elements
- a gambling scene, a torture scene, physical luxury and knowingness
about the world's ways - which were to become the hallmarks of
Fleming's style. It was well received and he soon followed it
with other James Bond adventures, Live And Let Die (1954), Moonraker
(1955), and Diamonds Are Forever (1956).
His popularity soared: his books became fashionable and the roused
fierce opposition. He was accused of trading sex, snobbery
and sadism. Fleming replied by explaining his own attitude
to James Bond: 'I wanted to show a hero without any characteristics,
who was simply the blunt instrument in the hands of the government.
Then he started eating a number of meals and dressing in a
certain way so that he became encrusted with characteristics
much against my will... apart from the fact that he wears
the same clothes that I wear, he and I really have very little
in common. I do rather envy him his blondes and his efficiency,
but I can't say I much like the chap.'
In 159 Fleming left regular newspaper work to devote himself
to his books and the management of what had become a very valuable
literary property. By now there was already a slight flagging
in his style, a tendency to repeat his effects. In The Spy Who
Loved Me (1962) he tried the bizarre experiment of telling a
James Bond story through the eyes of the heroine. He knew it
was a failure, and the next book, On Her Majesty's Secret Service
(1963), reverted to normal: but, like Holmes after the Reichenbach
Falls, Bond never seemed quite the same man again. You Only Live
Twice (1964) provoked discussion, not because it was shocking,
but because it was not: two-thirds of it was mere travel writing
about Japan. Fleming was finding the process of invention increasingly
The snowball of success, however, continued
quite unchecked. Each book headed the bestseller list for weeks.
proliferated: James Bond was imitated and parodied. President
Kennedy and Mr Allen Dulles were numbered among his admirers.
The fame and profitability of the books were spectacularly enhanced
by a triumphant film debut. With Mr Sean Connery as Bond, Dr.
No maintained a delicate balance, hovering on the edge of farce;
its successor, From Russia With Love, was outstandingly successful;
a third, Goldfinger, will be released shortly.
In March of this year, Fleming struck a unique
and ingenious bargain, under which he sold 51 per cent of all
his future royalties,
excluding film rights, to Booker Brothers, the sugar and investment
company, for £100,000.
Fleming had completed, and was revising, a new
novel, The Man With The Golden Gun, set in the West Indies, and
there are several
James Bond short stories which have not yet been published in
book form. He had one son.
The New York Times
Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, Agent
007 of the British Secret Service, died early today in a hospital
after suffering a heart attack. He was 56 years
old. Mr. Fleming was stricken last night at his hotel in Sandwich,
where he was spending a golfing vacation with his wife, Anne
Geraldine Fleming, and their son, Caspar, who became 12
years old today.
The novelist suffered a coronary thrombosis
three years ago. It forced him to curtail his activities and
quota of gold-tipped cigarettes, which Bond smoked
incessantly, from 60 to 20.
Captured Public Eye
In a little more than a decade James Bond became the world's
best known secret agent. Countless readers avidly followed his
undercover war against Soviet master spies and terrorists and later
international crime syndicate.
Mr. Fleming equipped his hero with an impeccable social background,
good looks, bravery, toughness and a disillusioned sort of patriotism.
More important, the double-O identification number carried by
three men in the British Secret Service, authorized him
to kill in the line of duty. It was a privilege Bond exercised
frequently and sometimes reluctantly, most often
with a .25-caliber Beretta automatic that he carried
in a chamois shoulder holster.
President Kennedy and Allen Dulles, while he was the head of
the Central Intelligence Agency, said that they enjoyed Mr. Fleming's
books, in fact, it was probably the President's
praise in 1961 that was largely responsible for their enormous
popularity here. In Britain, Prince Philip led
the cheering section.
Mr. Fleming wrote 12 books, all but two about Bond, and was
working on the 13th when he died. All told, they sold more than
copies, mostly in paperback editions,
and were translated into 10 languages. Two highly profitable
films, "Doctor No" and "From
Russia With Love," were made from his novels, a third, "
Goldfinger," was recently completed and is awaiting release
and others are planned.
Mr. Fleming had made $2.8 million from his books, according
to his agent, Peter Janson-Smith. In March, in a complex transaction
for tax purposes, he sold a 51 per cent interest
in his future income to a British holding company for
Critics on Both Sides
Critics differed on the merits of his works.
Some said he was an aristocratic Mickey Spillane, pandering to
the public's taste
for sadism and sex. A critic in London's New Statesman
called "Doctor No," which tells of how
Bond destroyed a missile-sabotage center in the Caribbean, "the
nastiest book" he had ever read.
"There are three basic ingredients in 'Doctor No,'" he
unhealthy, all thoroughly English; the sadism of a schoolboy
bully, the mechanical, two-dimensional sex-longings
of a frustrated adolescent, and the crude snob-cravings of a
suburban adult. Mr. Fleming has no literary skill. But the three
ingredients are manufactured and blended with deliberate, professional
On the other hand, the contemporary novelist Kingsley Amis,
in a 40,000-word study, described Bond as tender rather than
classless rather than snobbish and a moderate
Tory rather than a Fascist.
On the whole, American critics did
not take Mr. Fleming quite so seriously, regarding his books
as thrillers that had tended
to become less thrilling in recent years. Mr. Fleming said
he thought of them as entertainment of no special significance.
He attributed their popularity to a hunger for
larger-than-life heroes that was left unsatisfied
by most contemporary fiction.
At the same time Bond's adventures slaked a public thirst for
information about espionage that had been whetted by such events
as the trial of Dr. Klaus Fuchs, the Burgess-McLean
case, the U-2 incident and the growing awareness of the work
of the C.I.A.
The first of the novels, "Casino Royale," published
in London without fanfare in 1953, described Bond's destruction
of Le Chiffre, the head of the French branch of Smersh, the Soviet
espionage and terror ring, Bond's nearly fatal torture
and his discovery that the woman he had fallen
in love with was a Soviet agent.
Mr. Fleming later said he wrote the book because he needed to
keep his mind off his impending marriage, marking the end of
his bachelor days. "Writing about 2,000 words in three hours
every morning," he
said, "'Casino Royale' dutifully produced
itself. I wrote nothing and made no corrections until the book
If I had looked back at what I had written the
day before I might have despaired."
Hewed to the Contemporary
Other novels followed rapidly. In "Goldfinger" Bond
foils a plot to rob Fort Knox; in "Moonraker" he prevents
the firing of a missile into the heart of London; in "Live
and Let Die" he destroys Smersh's chief agent
in the United States, a Negro dabbler in voodoo and racketeering
known as Mr. Big.
In "From Russia With Love," Bond escapes from Smersh's
plot to destroy him but appears to be dying of poison as the
book ends. Concern over his fate mounted among the public.
His publishers finally stated, "
After a period of anxiety the condition of No. 007 shows definite
Mr. Fleming liked to point out that Smersh, although often thought
to be a fictional organization, existed as a Soviet counterespionage
organization during and after World War II.
Its name is the combined form of the Russian words "smyert
spionam," meaning death to spies. When Smersh was disbanded,
Mr. Fleming set up SPECTRE, as Bond's opponent. It was unquestionably
fictional, the word being formed
from the initials of Special Executive
for Counter-Intelligence Terror, Revenge and Extortion.
Under the leadership of Ernest Stavro Blofeld, whose career
began as a double or triple agent in prewar Warsaw, SPECTRE has
the services of former Gestapo agents, disenchanted
Smersh operatives, members of the Mafia, the Red Lightning Tong
and other master criminals.
In "Thunderball" Bond balks the organization's plot
to extort millions of dollars from the United States with a stolen
nuclear bomb. He continues his pursuit of Blofeld in "On
His Majesty's Secret Service" and appears to
have destroyed him in his most recent adventure, "You Only
Live Twice," both of which were serialized in the magazine
Mr. Fleming was often accused of making Bond a thinly disguised
projection of himself. In their love of fast cars, golf, gambling
and gourmet cooking, in their skill with
firearms and cards, the two men were indeed similar, but
Mr. Fleming once said, "Apart from the fact
that he wears the same clothes that I wear, he and I really have
in common. I do rather envy him his blondes and his efficiency,
but I can't say I much like the chap."
Mr. Fleming said he had conceived Bond as "a hero without
any characteristics who was simply the blunt instrument in the
hands of his government." However, as with
most authors, Fleming's experiences largely shaped those of his
Father in Parliament
Mr. Fleming was born on May 28, 1908. His
father, Major Valentine Fleming, at one time a Conservative member
of Parliament, was
killed while fighting on the Somme in 1916.
His obituary in The Times of London was written by Winston
The boy was educated at Eton, Britain's most
exclusive school, and Sandhurst, the military academy. While
there he was a member
of the rifle team and competed in a match
the United States Military Academy. He earned a commission,
but resigned before beginning active service in the largely inactive
British Army of the 1920's. He
also said later that he regarded tanks and
trucks as a step downward from horses and sabers.
Planning to enter the diplomatic service, he learned excellent
French and German at the Universities of Munich and Geneva. He
stood seventh on the service's entrance examinations,
but since there were only five vacancies he decided
to try journalism.
Worked for Reuters
He joined Reuters, the international news
agency, and in 1929 was appointed its Moscow correspondent. "Reuters
was great fun in those days," he said. " The
training there gives you a good straightforward style. Above all,
I have to thank Reuters for getting my facts right."
There was a difference of opinion about this among Bond fans.
They delighted in finding errors in the novels, such as the sending
of a woman gang leader to Sing Sing, a men's
prison. After four years he was offered the post of assistant
general manager of Reuters in the Far East, but feeling the need
money, he decided to join a private bank in London. In
1935 he became a stockbroker and remained one until the outbreak
of war in 1939.
Mr. Fleming was commissioned in the Royal Navy and became in
time personal assistant to Rear Admiral J.H. Godfrey, director
of naval intelligence. The admiral was the prototype
of "M," the retired seadog who heads
Bond's secret service. More important, it was Mr. Fleming's wartime
service, from which he emerged as a commander, that provided
the insights into the
technique and practice of intelligence work that his
readers found enthralling.
After the war, he became foreign manager of The Sunday Times
of London. His contract provided for two months of vacation a
year, which he spent at Goldeneye, his home near
Oracabessa in Jamaica. Mr. Fleming did most of his
writing there and the island provided the background
for many of his novels. Like Bond, Mr. Fleming was tall (6-foot-1)
and slender (168 pounds). His curly hair was graying, his complexion
nose had been broken.
The novelist was a collector of first editions and rare books
and published The Book Collector, the bibliophilic magazine.
Besides his widow, whose marriage to Viscount Rothermere ended
in divorce in 1952, and his son, Mr. Fleming is survived by two
brothers, Peter, the explorer and writer,
and Richard, a banker.