Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Ian Flemming

Ian Fleming est l'homme qui a créé "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang", et aussi … James Bond!

The man whose imagination gave flight to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is best known as the author of 14 books about the world's most famous secret agent - James Bond 007.

The enormously successful James Bond books, which have sold over 72 million copies, were written between 1952 and 1964 when Fleming died at the age of 56. The first book to be filmed was Dr. No in 1962 and this marked the beginning of the incredibly successful and popular series of James Bond films, all of which have been produced by Albert R. Broccoli's Eon productions.

There have been 19 films in all and 5 different actors playing Bond - Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and the present holder of the role, Pierce Brosnan, playing Bond for his fourth time in the 20th film, Die Another Day.

Fleming was born in 1908 in London to a banking family, originally from Scotland. His father was killed in World War I when he was 8. He was educated at Eton and trained briefly for the army at Sandhurst. He finished his studies in Munich and Geneva, becoming proficient in German and French. After failing the exam for the Foreign Office, he joined Reuters as a journalist and worked briefly in Moscow. From 1933 to 1939 he was a stockbroker in London.

When World War II broke out, he was recruited to work in the Naval Intelligence Division of the Admiralty, rising to the rank of commander. It was here that he acquired a thorough knowledge of intelligence work, and many of his experiences and acquaintances found their way into his novels. For instance, Admiral Godfrey, to whom he was Personal Assistant, was the model for 'M'. Even the name, James Bond, was taken from a real person - an American ornithologist.

After the war, Fleming returned to newspapers, and became the foreign manager of Kemsley newspapers, holding the post until 1959. It is likely that in this job, he, or his foreign correspondents, did some covert work for the Foreign Office. It is however known that he was involved in the founding of the OSS, the forerunner of the CIA.

His first published work was in fact a style guide for foreign correspondents. The actual James Bond books were Casino Royale (1953), Live and Let Die (1954), Moonraker (1955), Diamonds Are Forever (1956), From Russia With Love (1957), Dr. No (1958), Goldfinger (1959), For Your Eyes Only (1960), Thunderball (1961), The Spy Who Loved Me (1962), On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1963), You Only Live Twice (1964), The Man with the Golden Gun (1965) and Octopussy and the Living Daylights (1966).

In addition to the novels, Fleming published a travel book, Thrilling Cities, based on articles first published in The Sunday Times, as well as an account of the diamond trade, The Diamond Smugglers. His journalism included a weekly column, "Atticus" in The Sunday Times. He was an avid book collector, and a keen golfer.

In 1952 he married Ann, Lady Rothermere in Jamaica, where he had a home, and began the first Bond novel. He spent two winter months there every year from then on and most of his writing was completed in the house which he had named Goldeneye.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was written for his son, Caspar. Although a work of pure fantasy, it was rooted in the truth. There was a car named Chitty Bang Bang (just one Chitty) which had belonged to a Prince Zborowski. The story begins with a wrecked and rusting car, the fate of the real Chitty. Like all Fleming's writing, it included all the elements of adventure which he enjoyed - beautiful cars and bombs and spies. Caspar, the first to enjoy Chitty's magic, died tragically in 1975. The book was first published in the year of Fleming's death (1964) and reached the silver screen 4 years later. The screenplay was adapted in part by the children's author, Roald Dahl (who also wrote the film version of You Only Live Twice). The movie has been a regular family favorite ever since.

Written by Mark Fox