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Goldeneye - where James Bond was born

16-Apr-2008 • Literary

Britain's most famous secret agent, James Bond, was in many ways a product not of his homeland but of Jamaica, writes the BBC.

It may not have been my most arduous assignment as a security correspondent, but walking around Bond's birthplace, Ian Fleming's former home Goldeneye, I understoood how important the exoticism, escapism and glamour of Jamaica in the 1950s were to Fleming's work and to its enduring appeal.

In February 1951, Fleming sat down in Goldeneye and began to write what would eventually be his first book, Casino Royale. The house offered him an escape from war-weary Britain, and Fleming went on to write every one of the Bond books there.

Goldeneye is still a beautifully secluded spot which provided Fleming with many of the themes that were so important to the books. The house had its own private beach where Fleming would swim and snorkel, and the love of the water would be transferred from the author to his hero.

Fleming set many of his books in Jamaica and the country was used as a location for the film Dr No and others. Goldeneye is now a luxury resort owned by Chris Blackwell, who grew up close to the house and worked as a location manager and an extra on the first Bond film Dr No before founding Island Records.

The locations he scouted were crucial to the exoticism of Bond for an audience still unused to foreign travel. I went round some of those locations on the island nearby including the Green Grotto caves used in Live and Let Die.

Bond was never a spy in the same way as other fictional characters, like John Le Carre's George Smiley. While Smiley was rooted in the reality of Whitehall politics back in London, Bond existed in the fantastical world of adventure and consumerism that emerged in the 1950s.

Charlie Higson is following in Ian Fleming's footsteps by writing the Young Bond series novels. At Goldeneye, he explained what he thinks has made Bond so popular.

Click here for video clips via the BBC report.

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