Goldeneye - Where Bond was born: Ian Fleming’s Jamaica
In 'Goldeneye - Where Bond was born: Ian Fleming’s Jamaica', author Matthew Parker steps into the exotic world of Bond creator Ian Fleming.
From 1946 until the end of his life, Ian Fleming lived for two months of every year at Goldeneye - the house he built on a point of high land overlooking a small white sand beach on Jamaica’s north coast. All the Bond novels and stories were written here.
Fleming adored the Jamaica he had discovered, at the time an imperial backwater that seemed unchanged from the glory days of the empire. Parker reveals how here, amid stunning natural beauty, the austerity and decline of post-war Britain could be forgotten. For Fleming, Jamaica was the perfect mix of British old-fashioned imperial values, and of the dangerous and sensual; of reassuring conservatism and deference and the exciting exotic: in effect, the same curious combination that made the Bond novels so appealing and successful.
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As we learn in Parker’s captivating study, so much of Bond leads back to Jamaica: the high-end jet-set tourism world in which our hero moves, the relentless attention to race, the aching concern with the end of the Empire and national decline, the awkward new relationship with the United States. Furthermore, the spirit of the island – its exotic beauty, its unpredictable danger, its melancholy, its love of exaggeration and gothic melodrama – infuses the novels.
Fleming threw himself into the hedonistic Jet Set party scene along the north coast: Hollywood giants, and the cream of British aristocracy, the theatre, literary society and the secret services spent their time here drinking and bed-hopping. But while the whites partied, Jamaican blacks, like other colonized people all over the empire, were rising up to demand respect and self-government. And as the imperial hero James Bond – projecting British power across the world – became ever more anachronistic and fantastical, so his popularity soared.
Drawing on extensive interviews with Ian’s family, his Jamaican lover Blanche Blackwell and many other Jamaicans, and timed to be released around the 50th anniversary of Fleming’s death, 'Goldeneye' is a beautifully written, thoroughly researched and original account of a comparatively neglected but crucially important part of Ian Fleming’s life and work.
About Matthew Parker
Born in Central America in 1970, Matthew Parker spent part of his childhood in the West Indies. He has written for most UK national newspapers as well as History Today, BBC History Magazine and the Literary Review and has also lectured around the world and contributed to TV and radio programmes in the UK and US. His bestselling and critically-acclaimed books include Monte Cassino, Panama Fever and The Sugar Barons.
Visit Matthew Parker's website for more on GoldenEye and his other works.