Ian Fleming … from Goldeneye to Casino Royale
In 1946, the author Ian Fleming (1908-1964), creator of spy James Bond, bought a piece of land on Jamaica with a private beach and reef, and got a local contractor to build a simple house with a great view of the Caribbean Sea. He christened the house Goldeneye.
Fleming had mentioned to friends during the war that he wanted to write a spy novel.
Fleming started writing Casino Royale at his Goldeneye estate in Jamaica on 17 February 1952. He liked to say that the book wrote itself, but in fact it was the product of hard work and discipline. He started his day with a morning swim in the Caribbean Sea followed by a breakfast in the garden with his wife Ann. The breakfast always consisted of scrambled eggs, bacon and black coffee.
At 9am, he would give Ann a kiss, leave the breakfast table and go inside into the main living room in Goldeneye. He would close the jalousied windows to create a cool and shady room with a hint of a tropical breeze.
Then he would sit at his desk, take out his old Imperial portable typewriter and type 2000 words during the next three hours. At noon he emerged from the cool of his retreat and stood blinking in the heat of day. After lunch he slept for an hour or so, and then, around five, he returned to his desk to look over what he had typed earlier in the day. When he had made his corrections he placed his manuscript in the bottom left-hand drawer of his desk.
Keeping to this routine, he finished work on the manuscript in just over a month, completing it on 18 March 1952. It was published a little over a year later in April 1953.
That writing regime, now established, continued for the next dozen years, whenever he was at Goldeneye. Fleming went on to write a total of twelve Bond novels and two short story collections. He died on the morning of 12 August 1964. The last two books—The Man with the Golden Gun and Octopussy and The Living Daylights—were published posthumously.
In an address to students at Oxford he encapsulated his approach to writing:
“Say whatever you want, research it properly, and write fast. Never look back. If you interrupt the writing of fast narrative with too much introspection and self-criticism you will be lucky if you write 500 words a day and you will be disgusted with them into the bargain.”