James Bond

James Bond himself remained a somewhat mysterious figure throughout most of Ian Fleming's novels . The reader was privy to his thoughts and feelings but little of his past. However, this changed in "You Only Live Twice". When Bond is believed to have been killed on a mission in Japan M writes an obituary for Bond which appears in the London Times. For the first time this reveals Bond's early life.

Bond's parents are named as Andrew Bond, a Scotsman, and Monique Delacroix from Canton de Vaud in Switzerland (these nationalities had previously been established in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service"). Bond's Scottish heritage was partly a result of Fleming being impressed with Sean Connery's screen portrayal of his character, whereas Bond's mother was named for a Swiss girl to whom Fleming was once engaged. In his fictional biography of Bond, John Pearson gave his birthdate as 11 November (Armistice Day) 1920, although there is no evidence for this in Fleming's novels.

Bond's father worked for Vickers, an armaments firm, and Bond's early life was spend abroad. When he was 11 years of age, both of Bond's parents were killed in a climbing accident and he subsequently lived with his aunt, Miss Charmian Bond in a hamlet called Pett Bottom near Canterbury in Kent. At the age of about 12, Bond entered the English public school of Eton but his career there was brief and he was transferred to Fettes after some trouble with a maid. At the age of 17 Bond left school and briefly attended the University of Geneva.

The chronology of Bond's involvement with the Secret Service then becomes confused. According to the "You Only Live Twice" obituary, he entered the Ministry of Defence in 1941 and was accorded the rank of lieutenant in the Special Branch of the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve (RNVR). He was soon promoted to Commander and then joined the Secret Service at the end of the war. However, "From Russia With Love" states that he joined the Secret Service in 1938, confirming the implication from "Casino Royale" that he was working for MI6 during the war.

Whatever the dates, we do learn some other interesting facts. His early missions for the Secret Service often involved him acting as a courier through Europe and into Russia ("Diamonds Are Forever"). According to "Casino Royale", he gained his Double 0 number after assassinating a Japanese cypher expert in New York and a Norwegian double agent in Stockholm.

Other miscellaneous Bond facts from the novels - he lost his virginity on his first visit to Paris when he was 16 ("From A View To A Kill") and he was awarded the CMG in 1953 ("From Russia With Love").

In contrast to all of this information, we still know little about the Bond of the movies, other than his obvious love of women, fast cars and Vodka Martinis, although the death of his parents in a climbing accident was finally confirmed in GoldenEye. We know that Bond is a serving naval officer, and prior to his attachment to MI6 he served on board the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (see another article for more details on the links between Bond and the Royal Navy). However, it seems that the movie Bond attended Cambridge University where he gained a first in Oriental languages, as mentioned in You Only Live Twice. Clearly, this contradicts the novels, although Raymond Benson's novelisation states that Bond was lying here in order to impress Moneypenny. Unfortunately, Bond's connections with Cambridge had been confirmed by The Spy Who Loved Me where he meets with Sheikh Hosein whom he had known there.

Bond's home has appeared twice in the films. We see his flat in Dr No, but he has moved to another (on the ground floor) by the time of Live And Let Die. Documentation prepared for Tomorrow Never Dies, but not seen clearly on screen, reveals that Bond's address at that time was 61 Horsen Ferry Road, London S1.

The movies have shown Bond to be something of a linguist - apart from the aforementioned information on oriental languages, we know that he can speak Italian (Moonraker and For Your Eyes Only), Spanish (For Your Eyes Only ), German (Octopussy and Tomorrow Never Dies), Greek (For Your Eyes Only), Russian (The World Is Not Enough) and some Afghan, but he doesn't know Czech (both The Living Daylights).

The Bond Film Informant was compiled by Matthew Newton. © Copyright MJ Newton. No part of this site may be reproduced without permission unless otherwise stated.

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