|Created by Ian Fleming|
Creator Ian Fleming
First appearance Casino Royale, 1953 novel
Significant other(s) Kissy Suzuki
Spouse Tracy Bond (widowed)
|Family Andrew Bond (father)Monique Delacroix Bond (mother)|
Children James Suzuki Bond (son with Kissy)
Title Commander (Royal Naval Reserve)
Similar M, Eve Moneypenny, Q, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Vesper Lynd
Commander James Bond, CMG, RNVR, is a fictional character created by British journalist and novelist Ian Fleming in 1953. He is the protagonist of the James Bond series of novels, films, comics and video games. Fleming wrote twelve Bond novels and two short story collections, although the last two books—The Man with the Golden Gun and Octopussy and The Living Daylights—were published posthumously.
- Fleming's concept of Bond
- Inspiration for the character
- Origins of the name
- Personal life
- John Gardner
- Raymond Benson
- Kingsley Amis
- Sebastian Faulks
- Jeffery Deaver
- William Boyd
- Anthony Horowitz
- Young Bond
The Bond character is a Secret Service agent, code number 007, residing in London but active internationally. Bond was a composite character who was based on a number of commandos whom Fleming knew during his service in the Naval Intelligence Division during World War II, to whom Fleming added his own style and a number of his own tastes; Bond's name was appropriated from American ornithologist James Bond. Bond has a number of character traits which run throughout the books, including an enjoyment of cars, a love of food and drink, and an average intake of sixty custom-made cigarettes a day.
Since Fleming's death in 1964, there have been other authorised writers of Bond material, including John Gardner, who wrote fourteen novels and two novelizations; and Raymond Benson, who wrote six novels, three novelizations and three short stories. There have also been other authors who wrote one book each, Kingsley Amis (writing as Robert Markham), Sebastian Faulks, Jeffery Deaver, William Boyd, and Anthony Horowitz. Additionally, a series of novels based on Bond's youth—Young Bond—was written by Charlie Higson.
As spin-offs from the literary works, there was a television adaptation of the first novel, Casino Royale, in which Bond was played as an American agent. A comic strip series also ran in the Daily Express newspaper. There have been 26 Bond films; seven actors have played Bond in these films.
Fleming's concept of Bond
The central figure in Ian Fleming's work was the fictional character of James Bond, an intelligence officer in the "Secret Service". Bond was also known by his code number, 007, and was a Royal Naval Reserve Commander.
During World War II, Ian Fleming had mentioned to friends that he wanted to write a spy novel. It was not until 1952, however, shortly before his wedding to his pregnant girlfriend, Ann Charteris, that Fleming began to write Casino Royale, to distract himself from his forthcoming nuptials. Fleming started writing on his first book, Casino Royale, at his Goldeneye estate in Jamaica on 17 February 1952, typing out 2,000 words in the morning, directly from his own experiences and imagination. He finished work on the manuscript in just over a month, completing it on 18 March 1952. Describing the work as his "dreadful oafish opus", Fleming showed it to an ex-girlfriend, Clare Blanchard, who advised him not to publish it at all, but that if he did so, it should be under another name. Fleming went on to write a total of twelve Bond novels and two short story collections; he died on the morning of 12 August 1964. The last two books—The Man with the Golden Gun and Octopussy and The Living Daylights—were published posthumously.
Inspiration for the character
Fleming based his creation on a number of individuals he came across during his time in the Naval Intelligence Division during the Second World War, 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, whom Fleming worshipped and 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, a skiing spy whom Fleming had met in Kitzbühel in the 1930s, Patrick Dalzel-Job, who served with distinction in 30 AU during the war, and Bill "Biffy" Dunderdale, station head of MI6 in Paris, who wore cufflinks and handmade suits and was chauffeured around Paris in a Rolls-Royce. Sir Fitzroy Maclean was another figure mentioned as a possibility, based on his wartime work behind enemy lines in the Balkans, as was the MI6 double agent Dušan Popov.
In 2016, a BBC Radio 4 documentary explored the possibility that the character of James Bond was created by 20th Century author and mentor to Fleming, Phyllis Bottome in her 1946 novel, The Life Line. Distinct similarities between the protagonist in The Life Line, Mark Chalmers and James Bond have been highlighted by spy writer, Nigel West.
Origins of the name
Fleming took the name for his character 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".
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." After Fleming met the ornithologist and his wife, he described them as "a charming couple who are amused by the whole joke". In the first draft of Casino Royale he decided to use the name James Secretan as Bond's cover name while on missions.
Bond's number—007—was assigned by Fleming in reference to one of British naval intelligence's key achievements of World War I: the breaking of the German diplomatic code. One of the German documents cracked and read by the British was the Zimmermann Telegram, which was coded 0075, and which was one of the factors that led to the US entering the war.
Facially, Bond resembles the composer, singer and actor Hoagy Carmichael. 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." Others, such as journalist Ben Macintyre, identify aspects of Fleming's own looks in his description of Bond. General references in the novels describe Bond as having "dark, rather cruel good looks".
In the novels (notably From Russia, with Love), Bond's physical description has generally been consistent: slim build; a three-inch long, thin vertical scar on his right cheek; blue-grey eyes; a "cruel" mouth; short, black hair, a comma of which falls on his forehead. Physically he is described as 183 centimetres (6 feet) in height and 76 kilograms (168 lb) in weight. After Casino Royale, Bond also had the faint scar of the Russian cyrillic letter "Ш" (SH) (for Shpion: "Spy") on the back of one of his hands, carved by a SMERSH agent.
In Ian Fleming's stories, James Bond is in his mid-to-late thirties, but does not age. In Moonraker, he admits to being eight years shy of mandatory retirement age from the 00 section—45—which would mean he was 37 at the time. Fleming did not provide Bond's date of birth, but John Pearson's fictional biography of Bond, James Bond: The Authorized Biography of 007, gives him a birth date of 11 November 1920, while a study by Bond scholar John Griswold puts the date at 11 November 1921. According to Griswold, the Fleming novels take place between around May 1951, to February 1964, by which time Bond was aged 42.
It was not until the penultimate novel, You Only Live Twice, that Fleming gave Bond a sense of family background, using a fictional obituary, purportedly from The Times. 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. The novel reveals Bond is the son of a Scottish father, Andrew Bond, of Glencoe, and a Swiss mother, Monique Delacroix, of the Canton de Vaud. The young James Bond spends much of his early life abroad, becoming multilingual in German and French because of his father's work as a Vickers armaments company representative. Bond is orphaned at the age of 11 when his parents are killed in a mountain climbing accident in the Aiguilles Rouges near Chamonix.
After the death of his parents, Bond goes to live with his aunt, Miss Charmian Bond, in the village of Pett Bottom, where he completes his early education. Later, he briefly attends Eton College at "12 or thereabouts", but is removed after two halves because of girl trouble with a maid. After being sent down from Eton, Bond was sent to Fettes College in Scotland, his father's school. On his first visit to Paris at the age of 16, Bond loses his virginity, later reminiscing about the event in "From a View to a Kill". Fleming used his own upbringing for his creation, with Bond alluding to briefly attending the University of Geneva (as did Fleming), before being taught to ski in Kitzbühel (as was Fleming) by Hannes Oberhauser, who is later killed in "Octopussy".
In 1941 Bond joins a branch of what was to become the Ministry of Defence and becomes a lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, ending the war as a commander. Bond applies to M for a position within the "Secret Service", part of the Civil Service, and rises to the rank of principal officer.
At the start of Fleming's first book, Casino Royale, Bond is already a 00 agent, having been given the position after killing two enemy agents, a Japanese spy on the thirty-sixth floor of the RCA Building at Rockefeller Center in New York City and a Norwegian double agent who had betrayed two British agents; it is suggested by Bond scholar John Griswold that these were part of Bond's wartime service with Special Operations Executive, a British World War II covert military organisation. In 1954, according to the Soviet file on him in From Russia, With Love, Bond is made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George.
Fleming biographer Andrew Lycett noted that, "within the first few pages [of Casino Royale] Ian had introduced most of Bond's idiosyncrasies and trademarks", which included his looks, his Bentley and his smoking and drinking habits. The full details of Bond's martini were kept until chapter seven of the book and Bond eventually named it "The Vesper", after Vesper Lynd.
Bond's drinking habits run throughout the series of books. During the course of On Her Majesty's Secret Service alone, Bond consumes forty-six drinks: Pouilly-Fuissé, Riquewihr and Marsala wines, most of a bottle of Algerian wine, some 1953 Château Mouton Rothschild claret, along with Taittinger and Krug champagnes and Babycham; for whiskies he consumes three bourbon and waters, half a pint of I.W. Harper bourbon, Jack Daniel's whiskey, two double bourbons on the rocks, two whisky and sodas, two neat scotches and one glass of neat whisky; vodka consumption totalled four vodka and tonics and three double vodka martinis; other spirits included two double brandies with ginger ale, a flask of Enzian Schnaps and a double gin: he also washed this down with four steins of German beer. Bond's alcohol intake does not seem to affect his performance because he prefers colder and diluted cocktails.
For his non-alcoholic drinks Bond eschews tea, calling it "mud" and blaming it for the downfall of the British Empire. He instead prefers to drink coffee.
When in England and not on a mission, Bond dines as simply as Fleming did on dishes such as grilled sole, oeufs en cocotte and cold roast beef with potato salad. When on a mission, however, Bond eats more extravagantly. This was partly because in 1953, when Casino Royale was published, many items of food were still rationed in the UK, and Bond was "the ideal antidote to Britain's postwar austerity, rationing and the looming premonition of lost power". This extravagance was more noteworthy with his contemporary readers for Bond eating exotic, local foods when abroad, at a time when most of his readership did not travel abroad.
On 1 April 1958 Fleming wrote to The Manchester Guardian in defence of his work, referring to that paper's review of Dr. No. While referring to Bond's food and wine consumption as "gimmickery", Fleming bemoaned that "it has become an unfortunate trade-mark. I myself abhor Wine-and-Foodmanship. My own favourite food is scrambled eggs." Fleming was so keen on scrambled eggs that he used his short story, "007 in New York", to provide his favourite recipe for the dish: in the story, this came from the housekeeper of Fleming's friend Ivar Bryce, May, who gave her name to Bond's own housekeeper. Academic Edward Biddulph observed that Fleming fully described seventy meals within the book series and that while a number of these had items in common—such as scrambled eggs and steaks—each meal was different from the others.
Bond is a heavy smoker, at one point smoking 70 cigarettes a day. Bond has his cigarettes custom-made by Morland of Grosvenor Street, mixing Balkan and Turkish tobacco and having a higher nicotine content than normal; the cigarettes have three gold bands on the filter. Bond carried his cigarettes in a wide gunmetal cigarette case which carried fifty; he also used a black oxidised Ronson lighter. The cigarettes were the same as Fleming's, who had been buying his at Morland since the 1930s; the three gold bands on the filter were added during the war to mirror his naval Commander's rank. On average, Bond smokes sixty cigarettes a day, although he cut back to around twenty five a day after his visit to a health farm in Thunderball: Fleming himself smoked up to 80 cigarettes a day.
Bond occasionally supplements his alcohol consumption with the use of other drugs, for both functional and recreational reasons: Moonraker sees Bond consume a quantity of the amphetamine benzedrine accompanied by champagne, before his bridge game with Sir Hugo Drax (also consuming a carafe of vintage Riga vodka and a vodka martini); he also uses the drug for stimulation on missions, such as swimming across Shark Bay in Live and Let Die, or remaining awake and alert when threatened in the Dreamy Pines Motor Court in The Spy Who Loved Me.
According to academic Jeremy Black, Bond is written as a complex character, even though he was also often the voice of Fleming's prejudices. The output of the prejudices, combined with the tales of Bond's actions, led journalist Yuri Zhukov to write an article in 1965 for the Soviet daily newspaper Pravda, describing Bond's values:
Black does not consider Bond to be the unthinking wild beast Zhukov writes about, however. From Russia, with Love sees Bond watching Kerim Bey shoot the Bulgarian killer Krilencu and Bond observing that he had never killed anyone in cold blood. In "The Living Daylights" Bond deliberately misses his target, realising the sniper he has been sent to kill is a beautiful female cello player. Bond settles this in his mind by thinking that "It wasn't exactly murder. Pretty near it, though." Goldfinger opens with Bond thinking through the experience of killing a Mexican assassin days earlier. He is philosophical about it:
In response to a reviewer's criticism of Bond as villainous, Fleming said in a 1964 Playboy interview that he did not consider his character to be particularly evil or good: "I don't think that he is necessarily a good guy or a bad guy. Who is? He's got his vices and very few perceptible virtues except patriotism and courage, which are probably not virtues anyway ... But I didn't intend for him to be a particularly likeable person." Fleming agreed with some critics' characterisation of Bond as an unthinking killer, but expressed that he was a product of his time: "James Bond is a healthy, violent, noncerebral man in his middle-thirties, and a creature of his era. I wouldn't say he's particularly typical of our times, but he's certainly of the times."
Another general attitude and prejudice of Fleming's that Bond gives voice to includes his approach to homosexuality. While Fleming had a number of gay friends, including Noël Coward and his editor, William Plomer, he said that his books were "written for warm-blooded heterosexuals". His attitude went further, with Bond opining that homosexuals were "a herd of unhappy sexual misfits – barren and full of frustrations, the women wanting to dominate and the men to be nannied", adding that "he was sorry for them, but he had no time for them."
Bond lives in a flat off the King's Road in Chelsea. His flat is looked after by an elderly Scottish housekeeper named May. May's name was taken from May Maxwell, the housekeeper of Fleming's close friend, the American Ivar Bryce. In 1955 Bond earned around £2,000 a year net (equivalent to £47,000 in 2015) although when on assignment he worked on an unlimited expense account. Much of Fleming's own daily routine while working at The Sunday Times was woven into the Bond stories and he summarised it at the beginning of Moonraker:
Only once in the series does Fleming install a partner for Bond in his flat, with the arrival of Tiffany Case, following Bond's mission to the US in Diamonds Are Forever. By the start of the following book, From Russia, With Love, Case had left to marry an American. Bond was married only once, in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, to Teresa "Tracy" di Vicenzo, but their marriage ends tragically when she is killed on their wedding day by Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
In the penultimate novel of the series, You Only Live Twice, Bond suffers from amnesia and has a relationship with an Ama diving girl, Kissy Suzuki. As a result of the relationship Kissy becomes pregnant, although she does not reveal this to Bond before he leaves the island.
From Casino Royale to From Russia, with Love Bond's preferred weapon is a .25 ACP Beretta automatic pistol carried in a light-weight chamois leather holster. However Fleming was contacted by a Bond enthusiast and gun expert, Geoffrey Boothroyd, who criticised Fleming's choice of firearm for Bond and suggested a Walther PPK 7.65mm instead. Fleming used the suggestion in Dr. No, also taking advice that it should be used with the Berns-Martin triple draw shoulder holster. By way of thanks, the Secret Service Armourer who gives Bond his gun was given the name Major Boothroyd, and is introduced by M as "the greatest small-arms expert in the world".
Kingsley Amis, in The James Bond Dossier, noted that although Bond is a very good shot and the best in the Secret Service, he is still beaten by the instructor, something that added realism to Bond's character. Amis identified a number of skills where Bond is very good, but is still beatable by others. These included skiing, hand-to-hand combat, underwater swimming and golf. Driving was also an ability Amis identified where Bond was good, but others were better; one of those who is a better driver than Bond is Sir Hugo Drax, who causes Bond to write off his battleship-grey supercharged Bentley 4½ Litre. Bond subsequently drives a Mark II Continental Bentley, which he uses in the remaining books of the series, although he is issued an Aston Martin DB Mark III with a homing device during the course of Goldfinger.
In 1981 writer John Gardner was approached by the Fleming estate and asked to write a continuation novel for Bond. Although he initially almost turned the series down, Gardner subsequently wrote fourteen original novels and two novelizations of the films between Licence Renewed in 1981 and COLD in 1996. With the influence of the American publishers, Putnam's, the Gardner novels showed an increase in the number of Americanisms used in the book, such as a waiter wearing "pants", rather than trousers, in The Man from Barbarossa. James Harker, writing in The Guardian, considered that the Gardner books were "dogged by silliness", giving examples of Scorpius, where much of the action is set in Chippenham, and Win, Lose or Die, where "Bond gets chummy with an unconvincing Maggie Thatcher". Ill health forced Gardner to retire from writing the Bond novels in 1996.
Gardner stated that he wanted "to bring Mr Bond into the 1980s", although he retained the ages of the characters as they were when Fleming had left them. Even though Gardner kept the ages the same, he made Bond grey at the temples as a nod to the passing of the years. Other 1980s effects also took place, with Bond smoking low-tar cigarettes and becoming increasingly health conscious.
The return of Bond in 1981 saw media reports on the more politically correct Bond and his choice of car—a Saab 900 Turbo; Gardner later put him in a Bentley Mulsanne Turbo. Gardner also updated Bond's firearm: under Gardner, Bond is initially issued with the Browning 9mm before changing to a Heckler & Koch VP70 and then a Heckler & Koch P7. Bond is also revealed to have taken part in the 1982 Falklands War. Gardner updated Fleming's characters and used contemporary political leaders in his novels; he also used the high-tech apparatus of Q Branch from the films, although Jeremy Black observed that Bond is more reliant on technology than his own individual abilities. Gardner's series linked Bond to the Fleming novels rather than the film incarnations and referred to events covered in the Fleming stories.
Following the retirement of John Gardner, Raymond Benson took over as Bond author in 1996; as the first American author of Bond it was a controversial choice. Benson had previously written the non-fiction The James Bond Bedside Companion, first published in 1984. Benson's first work was a short story, "Blast From the Past", published in 1997. By the time he moved on to other projects in 2002, Benson had written six Bond novels, three novelizations and three short stories. His final Bond work was The Man with the Red Tattoo, published in 2002.
Benson followed Gardner's pattern of setting Bond in the contemporary timeframe of the 1990s and, according to Jeremy Black, had more echoes of Fleming's style than John Gardner, he also changed Bond's gun back to the Walther PPK, put him behind the wheel of a Jaguar XK8 and made him swear more. James Harker noted that "whilst Fleming's Bond had been an Express reader; Benson's is positively red top. He's the first to have group sex ... and the first to visit a prostitute", whilst Black notes an increased level of crudity lacking in either Fleming or Gardner. In a 1998 interview Benson described his version of Bond as a more ruthless and darker character, stating that "Bond is not a nice guy. Bond is a killer ... He is an anti-hero."
In 1967, four years after Fleming's death, his literary executors, Glidrose Productions, approached Kingsley Amis and offered him £10,000 (£163,689 in 2017 pounds) to write the first continuation Bond novel. The result was Colonel Sun published in 1968 under the pen-name Robert Markham. Journalist James Harker noted that although the book was not literary, it was stylish. Raymond Benson noted that Bond's character and events from previous novels were all maintained in Colonel Sun, saying "he is the same darkly handsome man first introduced in Casino Royale".
After Gardner and Benson had followed Amis, there was a gap of six years until Sebastian Faulks was commissioned by Ian Fleming Publications to write a new Bond novel, which was released on 28 May 2008, the one hundredth anniversary of Ian Fleming's birth. The book—entitled Devil May Care—was published in the UK by Penguin Books and by Doubleday in the US.
Faulks ignored the timeframe established by Gardner and Benson and instead reverted to that used by Fleming and Amis, basing his novel in the 1960s; he also managed to use a number of the cultural touchstones of the sixties in the book. Faulks was true to Bond's original character and background too, and provided "a Flemingesque hero" who drove a battleship grey 1967 T-series Bentley.
On 26 May 2011 American writer Jeffery Deaver, commissioned by Ian Fleming Publications, released Carte Blanche. Deaver restarted the chronology of Bond, separate from the timelines of any of the previous authors, by stating he was born in 1980; the novel also saw Bond in a post-9/11 agency, independent of either MI5 or MI6.
Whilst the chronology changed, Deaver included a number of elements from the Fleming novels, including Bond's tastes for food and wine, his gadgets and "the rather preposterous names of some of the female characters."
In 2013 the William Boyd-written continuation novel Solo was released; it ignored Deaver's new timeframe and was set in 1969.
In October 2014 it was announced that Anthony Horowitz was to write a further Bond book. The book is due to be set in the 1950s, and it contains material written, but previously unreleased, by Fleming.
In 2005 author and comedian Charlie Higson released SilverFin, the first of five novels and one short story in the life of a young James Bond; his final work was the short story "A Hard Man to Kill", released as part of the non-fiction work, Danger Society: The Young Bond Dossier, the companion book to the Young Bond series. Young Bond is set in the 1930s, which would fit the chronology with that of Fleming.
Higson stated that he was instructed by the Fleming estate to ignore all other interpretations of Bond, except the original Fleming version. As the background to Bond's childhood, Higson used Bond's obituary in You Only Live Twice as well as his own and Fleming's childhoods. In forming the early Bond character, Higson created the origins of some of Bond's character traits, including his love of cars and fine wine.
Adaptations of Bond started early in Fleming's writings, with CBS paying him USD1,000 (USD8,918 in 2017 dollars) to adapt his first novel, Casino Royale, into a one-hour television adventure; this was broadcast on 21 October 1954. The Bond character, played by Barry Nelson, was changed to "Card Sense" Jimmy Bond, an American agent working for "Combined Intelligence".
In 1957 the Daily Express newspaper adapted Fleming's stories into comic strip format. In order to help the artists, Fleming commissioned a sketch to show how he saw Bond; illustrator John McLusky considered Fleming's version too "outdated" and "pre-war" and changed Bond to give him a more masculine look.
In 1962 Eon Productions, the company of Canadian Harry Saltzman and American Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli released the first cinema adaptation of an Ian Fleming novel, Dr. No, featuring Sean Connery as 007. Connery was the first of seven actors to play Bond on the cinema screen, six of whom appeared in the Eon series of films. As well as looking different, each of the actors has interpreted the role of Bond in a different way.