“My name is Bond …”

James_Bond_Sean_Connery_Dr._NoIf you then blurted out: “James Bond!” then you are one of the three and a half billion people on this planet who are familiar with Ian Fleming’s famous literary creation.

Would you like three and a half billion people to know your main character?

‘Maybe,’ I hear you say, your eyes gleaming.

So how did Ian Fleming do it?

Fleming once said in an interview: “People often ask me, “How do you manage to think of that? What an extraordinary (or sometimes extraordinarily dirty) mind you must have.”

Fleming is a classic case of a writer making the most of what he knows. He was a high ranking intelligence officer during the Second World War. He had first-hand experience of many incidents in his books.

He once said: “I dolled them up, attached a hero, a villain and a heroine, and there was the book.”

The gambling scene in Casino Royale for instance.

James Bond. Ian FlemingFleming was in Lisbon in 1941 on the way to Washington for secret talks. The chief of German Intelligence in Portugal gambled in the Casino every night. Fleming saw him at the chemin de fer table and had the idea to beat him and rob Lisbon’s Abwehr of all its funds.

Fleming had a modest fifty pounds sterling. He gambled three times and was cleaned out of his travel money.

He wrote a different ending for Bond.

The assassination attempt on Bond’s life outside the Hotel Splendide was based on a Russian attempt to assassinate German ambassador Franz von Papen in Ankara, Turkey.

And the torture scene? Something similar – a very nasty thing called passer a la mandoline – was used on his own agents during the war.

But how did he come up with the name?

James Bond, Ian Fleming

the real James Bond
photo Jerry Freilich

Fleming said he wanted Bond to be dull and uninteresting, a ‘blunt instrument.’ This is how Daniel Craig plays him in the latest Bond movies, the anti-Connery that Fleming envisioned.

He thought ‘James Bond’ was the dullest name he had ever heard. The real Bond was a Caribbean bird watcher, of Fleming’s acquaintance. “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.”

James Bond, Ian F,leming

The 007 symbol dates back to Elizabethan Times: For Your Eyes Only. It was the codename used by Elizabeth I’s spymaster, Dee. John Dee.

It also referred to one of British naval intelligence’s key achievements of World War one, the breaking of the German diplomatic code.

To anyone who knew about such things, ‘007’ signified the highest achievement of British Military Intelligence.

It was, in itself, a code.

James Bond, Ian Fleming, Hoagy CarmichaelHe based Bond’s looks on American crooner Hoagy Carmichael. There are several references to Carmichael in the novels.

Bond’s peccadilloes were his own; Fleming himself liked scrambled eggs, Ronson lighters and had cigarettes custom made by Morland’s. He and Bond shared the same golf handicap. Fleming even used the names of old school friends and lovers in his novels.

Did Fleming date a Pussy Galore? We’ll never know.

But M was based on his wartime boss, Rear Admiral John Godfrey. Hungarian-born British architect, Erno Goldfinger, whose concrete tower blocks became such a feature of post war London, was a man Fleming despised for his Brutalist architecture.

Rosa Klebb of Smersh, “a dreadful chunk of a woman” was based on Major Tamara Ivanova, a real life K.G.B. operative. Ernst Blofeld was a schoolmate at Eton.

But who did he base his hero on?

Jesm Bond, Ian FlemingA number of former intelligence operatives have laid claim, but Fleming himself said that he  was “a compound of all the secret agents and commandos I met during the war,”

One was his brother, Peter, who worked behind the lines in Norway and Greece during the war.

There was Commander Wilfred Dunderdale – known as “Biffy” because of his prowess as a boxer in the Royal Navy – who was head of SIS Paris Station in the thirties and had a penchant for pretty women and fast cars. He dined at Maxim’s, drove an armour-plated  Rolls Royce, and dressed in handmade suits with Cartier cufflinks. He also played a key role in the cracking of the Enigma code.

There was Pieter Tazelaar, a Dutch agent who actually did emerge from the ocean near a seafront casino in the middle of the night, dressed in a specially designed rubber oversuit which he then stripped off to reveal full evening dress. It happened at Scheveningen in Holland in 1940.

And you thought it was just fiction

Jemes Bond, Ian Fleming, Aston Martin

James Bond’s Aston Martin, complete with parking ticket
photo: Nrbelex

And there was Dušan “Duško” Popov, OBE, a Serbian double agent with a Playboy lifestyle who claimed to have informed Edgar Hoover about the attack on Pearl Harbor four months before it happened.

There. It’s as simple as that. As he said, all he did was ‘dolled them up, attached a hero, a villain and a heroine, and there was the book.”

But I have my doubts.

I suspect it was just his cover story.



Istanbul, Balkans, spies, historical romance, spy romance, romance, espionage

An unforgettable love story set in a world of spies and a city of breath-taking romance.

colin falconer, bestselling author, romance, adventure, love stories


Colin Falconer, romance, adventure, bestseller, historical fiction

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  1. Good Colin, always 110 percent on your blogs.

  2. Another great post, Meester Falconer.

  3. Terrific post. As a Bond fan I enjoyed reading this. I do like the Daniel Craig current version of Bond.


  4. Awesome blog, Colin. When do you come to NZ? Getting close to done on my first novel. Excited.

  5. I am not…and never have been…a James Bond fan. I will say though, that if Sean Connery decided to play a senior 007 today, I’d probably watch it. I’m not impressed with his younger self but…wow. He’s aged well. 🙂

    The story behind the stories is really interesting, and I’m glad you shared it. But I have to say the mention of Hoagy Carmichael sent me to Google. I’d heard the name, and wondered who he was. That led me to Humphrey Bogart, Spencer Tracey, and Jimmy Stewart…which resulted in a decision to rent Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation at some point in the near future (another movie I’ve never seen).

    What is my biggest lesson from your blog today? Stop reading them in the middle of the night when I’m tired. But I enjoyed the article…and the many detours resulting from it. 🙂

    • Well I’m glad I kept you up, Kristy. I didn’t know much about Hoagy Carmichael either – I thought the video was brilliant. Real nostalgia. Bogie and Bacall in a smoky bar. Love it!

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