Ian Fleming and the Glamorous Writing Life

Posted on May 19, 2008

Former spy and bestselling author of the James Bond series Ian Fleming was known for his glamorous writing lifestyle at his Jamaican home. He would write his 1000 words in the morning, go snorkeling, have cocktails and lunch on the terrace, more diving and then another 1,000 words. In the evenings, he entertained glamorous guests and generally enjoyed life. But he was actually rather insecure as a writer. And it wasn't quite as glamorous as we've been led to believe.

The reality, of course, was somewhat different. Fleming was insecure about his reputation; in common with most commercially-successful novelists, he wanted to be taken seriously by the literati. At times, he found the demands of writing the Bond novels overwhelming. In 1964, for example, as he was about to embark on The Man with the Golden Gun, Fleming wrote a letter to Sir John Betjeman. "I must warn you that I am seriously running out of puff," he complained. "My inventive streak is very nearly worked out." Later that year, at the tender age of 56, Fleming died. He lived to see just two of the Bond films, Dr No and From Russia with Love, and never fully enjoyed the fruits of his success.
That's rather sad. We prefer the glamorized version of his writing life. Really, these biographers and their insistence on pesky facts are quite annoying.

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