LONDON He may not have cheated death, seduced
women at will and killed countless baddies, but James Bond
creator Ian Fleming's experience of the shadowy world of
wartime espionage helped inspire his bestselling novels.
"For Your Eyes Only" is the first major exhibition devoted
to the British author and coincides with the centenary of his
birth. It opens at London's Imperial War Museum on Thursday and
runs until March 1, 2009.
On display is Fleming's desk from his Jamaican home
Goldeneye where he wrote his Bond books, a jacket he wore
during a raid by British forces on a French port in 1942,
several Bond manuscripts and props from the blockbuster film
The show seeks to explain how a man born into a world of
privilege and with a playboy reputation was grounded by his
work as a naval intelligence officer during World War Two.
"I think we make the point in the exhibition that the
Second World War gave Fleming a sense of purpose in his life
that had hitherto been lacking," said curator Terry Charman.
"However much the (Bond) novels may be set in the Cold War
... they in fact are nearly all rooted in World War Two," he
"In 'Moonraker', Hugo Drax's rocket that's going to be
launched against London with a nuclear warhead is really a V-2
which Fleming heard land in London from September 1944
FACT AND FICTION
Fleming, whose father was killed during World War One when
he was eight, attended Eton, joined the military before leaving
under a cloud and went to Austria to learn languages.
In 1931, he became a journalist at Reuters, which his niece
Kate Grimond said played an important role in his success later
in life as a novelist.
"By chance (he) got a job at Reuters where he was very well
suited and he learned to write very fast and very accurately
and that was the basis of his very good writing style," she
She added that in order to make more money he left the news
agency for a job in finance, but was "no good at that."
According to exhibition organizers, he "preferred to spend his
time and money on women, golf, gambling and drinking."
During World War Two, as a naval intelligence officer, he
came up with several plots to outwit the Germans which would
not have looked out of place in a James Bond novel.
In 1940 he devised Operation "Ruthless," a scheme to seize
a German naval coding machine by landing a captured enemy
bomber in the English Channel, lure in a rescue vessel, kill
the crew and "dump them overboard." The idea was quickly
Fleming suggested the pilot be a "tough bachelor, able to
swim" -- an early prototype for 007.
Fleming wrote his first Bond novel, "Casino Royale," in
1952, and the world of danger and glamour he created for his
superspy was the perfect escape from drab post-war Britain.
He married the same year but the stormy relationship
quickly deteriorated. Fleming's heavy drinking and smoking took
their toll, and he died of a heart attack in 1964 aged 56.
By then the Bond film franchise was underway, which made
Fleming a celebrity and boosted sales of his books. In 1964
they were selling 112,000 copies each week.
(Editing by Paul Casciato)