1953: British publishing house Jonathan Cape publishes Ian Fleming’s first novel, Casino Royale, introducing the world to literature’s most famous spy: James Bond, 007.
The son of a parliamentary minister and grandson of a Scottish financier, Fleming grew up in a wealthy London family. Educated at Eton and prestigious military schools, Fleming worked as a journalist and junior editor for Reuters and was stationed in pre–World War II Moscow.
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Fleming then returned to London to work as a stockbroker. But global conflict loomed, and the director of naval intelligence, Rear Adm. John Godfrey, recruited Fleming to serve as his personal assistant. During his intelligence carer, Fleming would rise to the rank of commander, planning operations for an elite team of British commandos, the 30 Assault Unit.
Though his desk-bound duties laid the foundation for his espionage fiction, they kept Fleming out of the field. When he turned to writing after the war, he poured that frustration into his fictional alter ego — making sure Bond was always in on the action. Searching for a moniker that seemed British without sounding too dramatic, Fleming chose his MI6 hero’s name from the author of the book, Bond’s Birds of the West Indies.