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James Bond

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James Bond
James Bond
Name: James Bond
Alias(es): 007
Born: November 11, 1921
Affiliation: MI6
Nationality: England English
Rank: Commander
Father: Andrew Bond
Mother: Monique Bond
Spouse(s): Tracy Bond (deceased)
Children: James Suzuki
Occupation: 00 Agent
First appearance: Casino Royale
Last appearance: Trigger Mortis

Royal Navy Commander James Bond, CMG, RNVR, is a fictional character created by British journalist and novelist Ian Fleming in 1953. He is the main protagonist of the James Bond series of novels. Bond is a Secret Service agent, code number 007, residing in London but active internationally. Bond was a composite character who was based on a number of commandos who Fleming knew during his service in the Naval Intelligence Division during World War II, to whom Fleming added his own style and a number of his own tastes. Bond has a number of character traits which run throughout the books, including an enjoyment of cars, a love of food, drink and smoking cigarettes.

BackgroundEdit

Born November 11, 1921 to Andrew Bond of Scotland and Monique Delacroix-Bond of the Canton de Vaud, Switzerland, James' parents were tragically killed during a climbing accident in the French Alps when he was eleven. He had acquired a first-class command of the French and German languages during his early education, which he received entirely abroad due to his father's work as a Vickers armaments company representative. When his parents are killed in a mountain climbing accident in the Aiguilles Rouges near Chamonix, eleven-year-old James is orphaned.

After the death of his parents, Bond goes to live with his aunt, Miss Charmian Bond in the small village of Pett Bottom, Canterbury, where he completed his early education. Later, he briefly attends Eton College at "12 or thereabouts", but is removed after two terms because of girl trouble with a maid. After being sent down from Eton, Bond was sent to Fettes College in Scotland, his father's school.[1] On his first visit to Paris at the age of sixteen, Bond lost his virginity, later reminiscing about the event in "From A View to A Kill".[2]

After leaving Fettes, Bond studies briefly attending the University of Geneva (as did Fleming), before being taught to ski in Kitzbühel by Hannes Oberhauser. [3]Following his graduation, Bond joined the Ministry of Defence shortly before the outbreak of World War II. Bond applied to M for a position within the "Secret Service", part of the Civil Service, and rose to the rank of principal officer.

Upon the outbreak of World War II Bond enlisted as a young Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserves where he served with distinction during Atlantic Convoys. Bond served on HMS Prince Of Wales during the sinking of HMS Hood and the allied sinking of the Bismarck, due to his linguist skills Bond was a very helpful asset to the British during this conflict and credited as a Lieutenant Commander. When Prince of Wales returned to Britain, Bond decided to take a job in London working at the Admiralty Headquarters most notably where he provided vital intelligence regarding Luftwaffe and Italian aircraft while supplying Malta and North Africa. In 1944 Bond once more relished Sea Service as he joined the British Pacific fleet touring on the battleship HMS King George V, providing the whereabouts of the Japanese to his commanding officers on numerous occasions. Bond served in the Pacific until the end of the war when he was awarded the rank of Commander.

At the start of Fleming's first book, Casino Royale, Bond is already a 00 agent having been given the position after killing two enemy agents, a Japanese cipher spy on the thirty-sixth floor of the RCA Building at Rockefeller Center in New York City and a Norwegian double agent who had betrayed two British agents; it is suggested by Bond scholar John Griswold that these were part of Bond's wartime service with Special Operations Executive (SOE), a British World War II covert military organisation. In 1954, according to the Soviet file on him in From Russia, With Love, Bond is made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George.

In Ian Fleming's stories, James Bond is in his mid-to-late thirties, but does not age. In Moonraker, he admits to being eight years shy of mandatory retirement age from the 00 section—forty-five—which would mean he was thirty-seven at the time. Fleming did not provide Bond's date of birth, but John Pearson's fictional biography of Bond, James Bond: The Authorised Biography of 007, gives him a birth date of 11 November 1920, whilst a study by Bond scholar John Griswold puts the date at 11 November 1921. According to Griswold, the Fleming novels take place between around May 1951, to February 1964, by which time Bond was aged 42.

Personal lifeEdit

Bond lives in a flat off the King's Road in Chelsea. His flat is looked after by an elderly Scottish housekeeper named May. May's name was taken from May Maxwell, the housekeeper of Fleming's close friend, the American Ivar Bryce. In 1955 Bond earned around £2,000 a year net (£39,058 in 2012 pounds), although when on assignment he worked on an unlimited expense account. Much of Fleming's own daily routine whilst working at The Sunday Times was woven into the Bond stories and he summarised it at the beginning of Moonraker:

"..elastic office hours from around ten to six; lunch, generally in the canteen; evenings spent playing cards in the company of a few close friends, or at Crockford's; or making love, with rather cold passion, to one of three similarly disposed married women; weekends playing golf for high stakes at one of the clubs near London."
—Moonraker, Chapter 1: Secret paper-work

Only once in the series does Fleming install a partner for Bond in his flat, with the arrival of Tiffany Case, following Bond's mission to the US in Diamonds Are Forever. By the start of the following book, From Russia, With Love, Case had left to marry an American. Bond was married only once, in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, to Teresa "Tracy" di Vicenzo, but their marriage was short-lived as she was killed on their wedding day by Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

In the penultimate novel of the series, You Only Live Twice', Bond suffers from amnesia and has a relationship with an Ama diving girl, Kissy Suzuki. As a result of the relationship Kissy becomes pregnant, although she does not reveal this to Bond before he leaves the island. Years later Bond discovered that Kissy did in fact bear him a child, James Suzuki.

InspirationEdit

Fleming took the name for his character from that of the American ornithologist James Bond, a Caribbean bird expert and author of the definitive field guide Birds of the West Indies; Fleming, a keen birdwatcher himself, had a copy of Bond's guide and he later explained to the ornithologist’s wife that "It struck me that this brief, unromantic, Anglo-Saxon and yet very masculine name was just what I needed, and so a second James Bond was born". He further explained that:

"When I wrote the first one in 1953, I wanted Bond to be an extremely dull, uninteresting man to whom things happened; I wanted him to be a blunt instrument...when I was casting around for a name for my protagonist I thought by God, (James Bond) is the dullest name I ever heard."
—Ian Fleming, The New Yorker, 21 April 1962

On another occasion Fleming said: "I wanted the simplest, dullest, plainest-sounding name I could find, "James Bond" was much better than something more interesting, like "Peregrine Carruthers". Exotic things would happen to and around him, but he would be a neutral figure—an anonymous, blunt instrument wielded by a government department."

Fleming based his creation on a number of individuals he came across during his time in the Naval Intelligence Division during World War II, admitting that Bond "was a compound of all the secret agents and commando types I met during the war". Amongst those types were his brother, Peter, who Fleming worshipped, and who had been involved in behind the lines operations in Norway and Greece during the war.&nbsp Aside from Fleming's brother, a number of others also provided some aspects of Bond's make up, including Conrad O'Brien-ffrench, a skiing spy whom Fleming had met in Kitzbühel in the 1930s, Patrick Dalzel-Job, who served with distinction in 30 AU during the war, and Bill "Biffy" Dunderdale, station head of MI6 in Paris, who wore cufflinks and handmade suits and was chauffeured around Paris in a Rolls-Royce. Sir Fitzroy MacLean was another figure mentioned as a possibility, based on his wartime work behind enemy lines in the Balkans, as was the MI6 double agent Dušan Popov.

TastesEdit

BeveragesEdit

Fleming biographer Andrew Lycett noted that, "within the first few pages [of Casino Royale] Ian had introduced most of Bond's idiosyncrasies and trademarks", which included his looks, his Bentley and his smoking and drinking habits. The full details of Bond's martini were kept until chapter seven of the book and Bond eventually named it "The Vesper", after Vesper Lynd.

Bond's drinking habits run throughout the series of books. During the course of On Her Majesty's Secret Service alone, Bond consumes forty-six drinks: Pouilly-Fuissé, Riquewihr and Marsala wines, most of a bottle of Algerian wine, some 1953 Château Mouton Rothschild claret, along with Taittinger and Krug champagnes and Babycham; for whiskies he consumes three bourbon and waters, half a pint of I.W. Harper bourbon, Jack Daniel's whiskey, two double bourbons on the rocks, two whisky and sodas, two neat scotches and one glass of neat whisky; vodka consumption totalled four vodka and tonics and three double vodka martinis; other sprits included two double brandies with ginger ale, a flask of Enzian Schnapps and a double gin: he also washed this down with four steins of German beer.

For his non-alcoholic drinks Bond eschews tea, calling it "mud" and blaming it for the downfall of the British Empire. He instead prefers to drink coffee. Preferably blue mountain Jamaican coffee

CuisineEdit

When in England and not on a mission, Bond dines as simply as Fleming did on dishes such as grilled sole, oeufs en cocotte and cold roast beef with potato salad. When on a mission, however, Bond eats more extravagantly. This was partly because in 1953, when Casino Royale was published, many items of food were still rationed, and Bond was "the ideal antidote to Britain's postwar austerity, rationing and the looming premonition of lost power". This extravagance was more noteworthy with his contemporary readers for Bond eating exotic, local foods when abroad, at a time when most of his readership did not travel abroad.

On 1 April 1958 Fleming wrote to The Manchester Guardian in defence of his work, referring to that paper's review of Dr. No. Whilst referring to Bond's food and wine consumption as "gimmickery", Fleming bemoaned that "it has become an unfortunate trade-mark. I myself abhor Wine-and-Foodmanship. My own favourite food is scrambled eggs." Fleming was so keen on scrambled eggs that he used his short story, " 007 in New York" to provide his favourite recipe for the dish: in the story, this came from the housekeeper of his friend Ivar Bryce, May, who gave her name to Bond's own housekeeper.

SmokingEdit

Bond is a heavy smoker, at one point smoking 70 cigarettes a day. Bond has his cigarettes custom-made by Morland of Grosvenor Street, mixing Balkan and Turkish tobacco and having a higher nicotine content than normal; the cigarettes have three gold bands on the filter. Bond carried his cigarettes in a wide gunmetal cigarette case which carried fifty; he also used a black oxidised Ronson lighter. The cigarettes were the same as Fleming's, who had been buying his at Morland since the 1930s; the three gold bands on the filter were added during the war to mirror his naval Commander's rank. On average, Bond smokes sixty cigarettes a day, although he cut back to around twenty five a day after his visit to a health farm in Thunderball. Fleming himself smoked up to 80 cigarettes a day.

DrugsEdit

Bond occasionally supplements his alcohol consumption with the use of other drugs, for both functional and recreational reasons: Moonraker sees Bond consumes a quantity of the amphetamine benzedrine accompanied by champagne, before his bridge game with Sir Hugo Drax (also consuming a carafe of vintage Riga vodka and a vodka martini); he also uses the drug for stimulation on missions, such as swimming across Shark Bay in Live and Let Die, or remaining awake and alert when threatened in the Dreamy Pines Motor Court in The Spy Who Loved Me.

LooksEdit

Devil-may-care-unused-artwork concept james bond 007

Concept art of Bond's appearance.

Facially, Bond resembles the composer, singer and actor Hoagy Carmichael. In Casino Royale Vesper Lynd remarks, "Bond reminds me rather of Hoagy Carmichael, but there is something cold and ruthless." Likewise, in Moonraker, Special Branch Officer Gala Brand thinks that Bond is "certainly good-looking . . . Rather like Hoagy Carmichael in a way. That black hair falling down over the right eyebrow. Much the same bones. But there was something a bit cruel in the mouth, and the eyes were cold." Others, such as journalist Ben Macintyre, identify aspects of Fleming's own looks in his description of Bond. General references in the novels describe Bond as having "dark, rather cruel good looks".

In the novels (notably From Russia, with Love), Bond's physical description has generally been consistent: slim build; a three-inch long, thin vertical scar on his right cheek; blue-grey eyes; a "cruel" mouth; short, black hair, a comma of which falls on his forehead. Physically he is described as 183 centimetres (6 feet) in height and 76 kilograms (167 lb) in weight. After Casino Royale, Bond also had the faint scar of the Russian cyrillic letter "Ш" (SH) (for Shpion: "Spy") on the back of one of his hands, carved by a SMERSH agent.

AbilitiesEdit

From Casino Royale to From Russia, with Love, Bond's preferred weapon is a .25 ACP Beretta automatic pistol carried in a light-weight chamois leather holster. However Fleming was contacted by a Bond enthusiast and gun expert, Geoffrey Boothroyd, who criticised Fleming's choice of firearm for Bond and suggested a Walther PPK 7.65mm instead. Fleming used the suggestion in Dr. No, also taking advice that it should be used with the Berns-Martin triple draw shoulder holster. By way of thanks, the MI6 Armourer who gives Bond his gun was given the name Q, and is introduced by M as "the greatest small-arms expert in the world".

Kingsley Amis, in The James Bond Dossier, noted that although Bond is a very good shot and the best in the Secret Service, he is still beaten by the instructor, something that added realism to Bond's character. Amis identified a number of skills where Bond is very good, but is still beatable by others. These included skiing, hand-to-hand combat, underwater swimming and golf. Driving was also an ability Amis identified where Bond was good, but others were better; one of those who is a better driver than Bond is Sir Hugo Drax, who causes Bond to write off his battleship-grey Bentley 4½ Litre with an Amherst Villiers supercharger. Bond subsequently drives a Mark II Continental Bentley, which he uses in the remaining books of the series, although he is issued an Aston Martin DB Mark III with a homing device during the course of Goldfinger.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Fleming, Ian (1964). You Only Live Twice. London, England: Jonathan Cape, pp.240-1. 
  2. Fleming, Ian (1960). For Your Eyes Only. London, England: The Book Club, p.11. 
  3. Fleming, Ian (1966). Octopussy and The Living Daylights. London, England: Jonathan Cape, p.48. 

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