MI6 looks back at Ian Fleming's affair with Lisl Popper, and the personal note he wrote to her in a copy of "For Your Eyes Only" in 1960...

Ian Fleming History - The Lisl Popper Affair
14th February 2005

Ian Fleming first met Lisl Popper (then Lisa Jokl) at age nineteen during the "golden time" at Kitzbuhel in Austria in 1926. She was eight years older than Fleming, and worked a local café.

Described as a "plain-looking Jewish girl", she and her friends first spotted young Fleming when he walked into their café and ordered coffee. As was usual for Fleming, he sat and read a book by himself.

Lisl recalled his appearance "with sleepy blue eyes and a romantic face" - but his good looks were not the only factor attracting the girls. He wore a navy blue knitted shirt of a kind which had never been seen in Kutzbühel before.

Fleming soon became acquainted with Lisl and her friends at the café and her simple outdoor lifestyle appealed to Fleming immensely - skiing in winter, and swimming and tennis in the summer.

Right: First edition cover of "For Your Eyes Only".

 

Another physical activity - sex - kept Fleming and Lisl very active as lovers, and some years later he commented that despite the air of sexual liberation, he did show some reservation about the manner in which Austrian girls threw themselves at his young English body.


Above: The note Ian Fleming wrote in a copy of "For Your Eyes Only" to Lisl Popper.
 

Lisl and Fleming became lifelong friends, and in 1960 Fleming signed a copy of his latest James Bond installment "For Your Eyes Only" (a collection of five short stories) to Lisl with the personal inscription "noch ein paar Eier für Ostern!" ("yet another pair of eggs for Easter").

It is perhaps no coincidence that the female character in the fifth short story in the collection is named Lisl Baum.

Upon Fleming's death in 1964, he left Lisl £500 in his will.

Lisl later said that "all the things said about Ian -- his gloom, his melancholy, his solitariness -- frankly amaze. To all of us who knew him in Kitzbuhel he was exactly the opposite -- gay, carefree, terribly happy, the most exciting and vital sort of person. Not like an Englishman at all".

Lisl Popper makes a brief appearance in archive footage used in the documentary "Ian Fleming - 007's Creator" on "The Living Daylights" Special Edition DVD.


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