Ian Lancaster Fleming (28 May 1908 – 12 August 1964) was an English author, journalist and naval intelligence officer who is best known for his James Bond series of spy novels. Fleming came from a wealthy family connected to the merchant bank Robert Fleming & Co., and his father was the Member of Parliament for Henley from 1910 until his death on the Western Front in 1917. Educated at Eton, Sandhurst and, briefly, the universities of Munich and Geneva, Fleming moved through several jobs before he started writing.
While working for Britain's Naval Intelligence Division during the Second World War, Fleming was involved in planning Operation Goldeneye and in the planning and oversight of two intelligence units, 30 Assault Unit and T-Force. His wartime service and his career as a journalist provided much of the background, detail and depth of the James Bond novels.
Fleming wrote his first Bond novel, Casino Royale, in 1952. It was a success, with three print runs being commissioned to cope with the demand. Eleven Bond novels and two collections of short stories followed between 1953 and 1966. The novels revolve around James Bond, an officer in the Secret Intelligence Service, commonly known as MI6. Bond is also known by his code number, 007, and was a commander in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. The Bond stories rank among the best-selling series of fictional books of all time, having sold over 100 million copies worldwide. Fleming also wrote the children's story Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang and two works of non-fiction. In 2008, The Times ranked Fleming 14th on its list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".
Fleming was married to Ann Charteris, who was divorced from the second Viscount Rothermere because of her affair with the author. Fleming and Charteris had a son, Caspar. Fleming was a heavy smoker and drinker for most of his life and succumbed to heart disease in 1964 at the age of 56. Two of his James Bond books were published posthumously; other writers have since produced Bond novels. Fleming's creation has appeared in film twenty-six times, portrayed by seven actors.
Ian Lancaster Fleming was born on 28 May 1908, at 27 Green Street in the wealthy London district of Mayfair. His mother was Evelyn (née Rose), and his father was Valentine Fleming, the Member of Parliament for Henley from 1910 to 1917. As an infant he briefly lived, with his family, at Braziers Park in Oxfordshire. Fleming was a grandson of the Scottish financier Robert Fleming, who co-founded the Scottish American Investment Company and the merchant bank Robert Fleming & Co.
In 1914, with the start of the First World War, Valentine Fleming joined "C" Squadron, Queen's Own Oxfordshire Hussars, and rose to the rank of major. He was killed by German shelling on the Western Front on 20 May 1917;Winston Churchill wrote an obituary that appeared in The Times. Because the family owned an estate at Arnisdale, Valentine's death was commemorated on the Glenelg War Memorial.
Fleming's elder brother Peter (1907–1971) became a travel writer and married actress Celia Johnson. Peter served with the Grenadier Guards during the Second World War, was later commissioned under Colin Gubbins to help establish the Auxiliary Units, and became involved in behind-the-lines operations in Norway and Greece during the war.
Fleming also had two younger brothers, Michael (1913–1940) and Richard (1911–1977), and a younger maternal half-sister born out of wedlock, the cellist Amaryllis Fleming (1925–1999), whose father was the artist Augustus John. Amaryllis was conceived during a long-term affair between John and Evelyn that started in 1923, six years after the death of Valentine.