|Like his most famous creation, James Bond, Ian Fleming was once a spy himself, working in several capacities for British intelligence both before and during World War II. The son of conservative M.P. Major Valentine Fleming, he attended elite schools including Eton and Sandhurst before going abroad to study in Munich and Geneva. He saw his first action as a spy after working as a Moscow correspondent for Reuters. He continued to work in Moscow for "The Times" of London, though secretly under the employ of the Foreign Office. During the war, Fleming served as assistant to the director of naval intelligence, giving him the significant background he used to write his internationally best-selling spy series. His first novel, "Casino Royale", was published in 1954 and introduced the character for which he would become famous, the unflappable and typically British spy, James Bond. The series broke new ground for spy thrillers, mixing action, romance, evil villains, outrageous plots, and high-tech gadgets. Each of his novels featuring Agent 007 has been made into a film, and the series is easily the most lucrative in all of moviedom. Fleming was also an accomplished author of children's books, including the classic "Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang".After the war, Fleming fulfilled a fantasy by building a home in Jamaica, a locale from which he would write many of his greatest novels. At the age of 44, he found himself in an affair with Lady Anne Rothmere, a married woman pregnant with his child. Once she divorced, she married Fleming and both of them remained in Jamaica, though they traveled often throughout their lives to England and America. His health began to deteriorate in the late 1950s, and in 1964, at the age of 56, he died of a heart attack. His only son, Casper, died from a drug overdose in 1975, and his wife passed away in 1981. Both are buried next to him Sevenhamptom, near England's border with Wales.
|Kingsley Amis was born in 1922 and graduated from Oxford in 1947 after serving in World War II. He was married for the first time in 1948, had three children (including the novelist Martin Amis), and taught first at a college in Wales and then briefly at Cambridge. He began publishing poetry in 1947, and his first novel, LUCKY JIM, was published in 1954--a rousing success. In 1963, Amis gave up teaching to become a full-time writer and, incongruously with his leftist, antiestablishment days as one of England's foremost "Angry Young Men," he began to identify himself as a political conservative, and was often involved in literary and political controversy, which he seemed to relish. He left his first wife for the novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard, whom he soon began to dislike intensely; his hostility toward Howard is reflected in the increasingly misogyny of his novels, an attitude which has not endeared his later works to women readers. From 1981 until his death, he shared a house with his first wife and her second husband. An extremely influential figure in the British literary scene, Amis wrote, in addition to fiction and poetry, criticism, crime novels, "time romances," memoirs, and (a notoriously heavy drinker) three books about drinking.