Ian Fleming's war spying helped inspire James Bond

Wed Apr 16, 2008 4:32pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - He may not have cheated death, seduced women at will and killed countless baddies, but James Bond creator Ian Fleming's experience of the shadowy world of wartime espionage helped inspire his bestselling novels.

"For Your Eyes Only" is the first major exhibition devoted to the British author and coincides with the centenary of his birth. It opens at London's Imperial War Museum on Thursday and runs until March 1, 2009.

On display is Fleming's desk from his Jamaican home Goldeneye where he wrote his Bond books, a jacket he wore during a raid by British forces on a French port in 1942, several Bond manuscripts and props from the blockbuster film franchise.

The show seeks to explain how a man born into a world of privilege and with a playboy reputation was grounded by his work as a naval intelligence officer during World War Two.

"I think we make the point in the exhibition that the Second World War gave Fleming a sense of purpose in his life that had hitherto been lacking," said curator Terry Charman.

"However much the (Bond) novels may be set in the Cold War ... they in fact are nearly all rooted in World War Two," he told Reuters.

"In 'Moonraker', Hugo Drax's rocket that's going to be launched against London with a nuclear warhead is really a V-2 which Fleming heard land in London from September 1944 onwards."

FACT AND FICTION   Continued...

<p>A woman looks at a collection of original 007 novels by Ian Fleming, at the "For Your Eyes Only" exhibition of Ian Fleming and James Bond memorabilia at the Imperial War Museum in London April 16, 2008. REUTERS/Stephen Hird</p>