The secret life of James Bond’s creator Ian Fleming and how his life inspired the famous spy

He may have dodged metal-toothed villains and steel-clawed megalomaniacs, but without doubt James Bond’s greatest achievement is the way he has reshaped cultural history. Fifty-six years after Ian Fleming sat down to tap out the secret agent’s first adventure Casino Royale, Bond has never been bigger and his appeal has never broader. This year marks the centenary of Fleming’s birth and there have been more Bond events, tributes, films, books and documentaries than you can fling a razor-sharpened bowler hat at. There was the publication of a new Bond book, Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks, the re-release of all the original Bond books, the launch of a set of commemorative stamps by Royal Mail, a radio play version of Dr No, an extensive new Fleming autobiography and a major yearlong exhibition at London’s Imperial War Museum. This month (November edition?) sees the worldwide release of the new Bond film, Quantum of Solace. It’s all very exciting, but it is the Imperial’s show ‘For Your Eyes Only’ that provides the perfect snap shot of the relationship between Fleming and his legendary hero. The bloodstained film props, fantastical gadgets and iconic Bond memorabilia are instantly recognisable. But running parallel is the process that led to their creation. Displays feature documentation of Fleming’s wartime secret service career; notes reveal Bond book product placement for Coopers Vintage Oxford Marmalade; readers’ letters calling for Bond to stop using his Beretta (“a gun for ladies”) and there is even a “perfect recipe for scrambled eggs”. To read the full story by Andy click on any of the images above.

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