The Story Of James Bond | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


The Story Of James Bond

Posted: Sep 5, 2015 at 12:45 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The James Bond series focuses on a fictional British Secret Service agent created in 1953 by writer Ian Fleming, who featured him in twelve novels and two short-story collections. Since Fleming’s death in 1964, seven other authors have written authorised Bond novels or novelizations: Kingsley Amis, Christopher Wood, John Gardner, Raymond Benson, Sebastian Faulks, Jeffery Deaver and William Boyd, with a further installment due this month by Anthony Horowitz. Additionally Charlie Higson wrote a series on a young James Bond, and Kate Westbrook wrote three novels based on the diaries of a recurring series character, Moneypenny.

James Bond

James Bond

The character has also been adapted for television, radio, comic strip, video games and film. The films are the longest continually running and the third-highest grossing film series to date, which started in 1962 with Dr. No, starring Sean Connery as Bond. As of 2015, there have been twenty-three films in the Eon Productions series. The most recent Bond film, Skyfall (2012), stars Daniel Craig in his third portrayal of Bond; he is the sixth actor to play Bond in the Eon series. There have also been two independent productions of Bond films: Casino Royale, a 1967 spoof and Never Say Never Again a 1983 remake of an earlier Eon-produced film, Thunderball.

The Bond films are renowned for a number of features, including the musical accompaniment, with the theme songs having received Academy Award nominations on several occasions, and one win. Other important elements which run through most of the films include Bond’s cars, his guns, and the gadgets with which he is supplied by Q Branch. The films are also noted for Bond’s relationships with various women, who are sometimes referred to as “Bond girls”.

James Bond (literary character) and Inspirations for James Bond as the central figure for his works, Ian Fleming created the fictional character of James Bond, an intelligence officer in the Secret Intelligence Service, commonly known as MI6. Bond was also known by his code number, 007, and was a Royal Naval Reserve Commander.

Fleming based his fictional creation on a number of individuals he came across during his time in the Naval Intelligence Division during World War II, admitting that Bond “was a compound of all the secret agents and commando types I met during the war”. Among those types were his brother, Peter, who had been involved in behind-the-lines operations in Norway and Greece during the war. Aside from Fleming’s brother, a number of others also provided some aspects of Bond’s make up, including Conrad O’Brien-ffrench, Patrick Dalzel-Job and Bill “Biffy” Dunderdale.

The name James Bond came from that of the American ornithologist James Bond, a Caribbean bird expert and author of the definitive field guide Birds of the West Indies. Fleming, a keen birdwatcher himself, had a copy of Bond’s guide and he later explained to the ornithologist’s wife that “It struck me that this brief, unromantic, Anglo-Saxon and yet very masculine name was just what I needed, and so a second James Bond was born”. He further explained that:

“When I wrote the first one in 1953, I wanted Bond to be an extremely dull, uninteresting man to whom things happened; I wanted him to be a blunt instrument … when I was casting around for a name for my protagonist I thought by God, (James Bond) is the dullest name I ever heard.

On another occasion, Fleming said: “I wanted the simplest, dullest, plainest-sounding name I could find, ‘James Bond’ was much better than something more interesting, like ‘Peregrine Carruthers’. Exotic things would happen to and around him, but he would be a neutral figure—an anonymous, blunt instrument wielded by a government department.”

Fleming decided that Bond should resemble both American singer Hoagy Carmichael and himself and in Casino Royale, Vesper Lynd remarks, “Bond reminds me rather of Hoagy Carmichael, but there is something cold and ruthless.” Likewise, in Moonraker, Special Branch Officer Gala Brand thinks that Bond is “certainly good-looking … Rather like Hoagy Carmichael in a way. That black hair falling down over the right eyebrow. Much the same bones. But there was something a bit cruel in the mouth, and the eyes were cold.”

Fleming also endowed Bond with many of his own traits, including sharing the same golf handicap, the taste for scrambled eggs and using the same brand of toiletries. Bond’s tastes are also often taken from Fleming’s own as was his behaviour, with Bond’s love of golf and gambling mirroring Fleming’s own. Fleming used his experiences of his espionage career and all other aspects of his life as inspiration when writing, including using names of school friends, acquaintances, relatives and lovers throughout his books.

It was not until the penultimate novel, You Only Live Twice, that Fleming gave Bond a sense of family background. The book was the first to be written after the release of Dr. No in cinemas and Sean Connery’s depiction of Bond affected Fleming’s interpretation of the character, to give Bond both a sense of humour and Scottish antecedents that were not present in the previous stories. In a fictional obituary, purportedly published in The Times, Bond’s parents were given as Andrew Bond, from the village of Glencoe, Scotland, and Monique Delacroix, from the canton of Vaud, Switzerland. Fleming did not provide Bond’s date of birth, but John Pearson’s fictional biography of Bond, James Bond: The Authorised Biography of 007, gives Bond a birth date on 11 November 1920, while a study by John Griswold puts the date at 11 November 1921.

Whatever age he is, he will never be too old to amuse audiences. As stories go, a black man wll be the next Bond.