10 Facts About James Bond You Probably Didn’t Know

We are approaching the 70th anniversary of James Bond as a character in literature. The first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, was published on the 13th of April 1953. 

Here are ten facts you may not know about James Bond and his world from the novels and films.

1-James Bond’s Drug Use

Bond’s enjoyment of cigarettes and alcohol is well known, but in the novels, he also uses Benzedrine, which is an amphetamine. Benzedrine was used in inhalers from the 1930s, and in World War 2, it was used to combat fatigue in soldiers, and this is why Bond uses it in the novels. In a number of instances, the drug gives Bond the edge he needs to win.

Bond takes tablets before his final mission in Live and Let Die. He uses the drug to keep sharp during his arduous underwater swim through the coral reef to the island of Surprise. 

In the next novel Moonraker, Bond is asked by M to prove that Hugo Drax is cheating at cards. Before the high-stakes bridge game where Bond intends to teach Drax a lesson, he has dinner with M. An envelope is delivered to him which contains Benzedrine and in front of M, Bond mixes Benzedrine with Dom Perignon champagne. As M says, “It’s your funeral.” 

Bond also takes Benzedrine in The Spy Who Loved Me. This time with coffee. 

The only reference in the films to Bond taking anything other than alcohol is in Skyfall when Silva is looking at Bond’s medical report and reads aloud, “Alcohol and substance abuse indicated”.

2-Bond’s Address

In the novels, Bond’s address is never given, but it’s revealed that he lives in a ground-floor flat in a square off the King’s Road in Chelsea. Bond’s flat is provided by the government, and Bond has an elderly Scottish housekeeper called May Maxwell. May only appears in the novels. 

In the films, Bond’s flat has been seen three times, in Dr No, Live and Let Die and Spectre. A number of props from the films feature Bond’s onscreen address, which is 61 Horseferry Road. Horseferry Road is real, but there is no number 61 in real life.

3-The Epidemiological Analysis

A couple of years ago, an amusing paper written by Wouter Graumans, Teun Bousema and Will Stone was published in the journal Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease. The paper covered James Bond’s risk of infections during his travels. The three academics watched all the Eon James Bond films as research. They counted 86 international journeys to 47 countries. In the paper, they go through all the risks in the various locales that Bond encounters, and it’s very entertaining. If you want to read the paper in full you can do so HERE.

4-Before Vauxhall Cross

The SIS (Secret Intelligence Service) moved into their current building at 85 Albert Embankment in 1994. And it was from that point that the public was finally aware of where the British Secret Service headquarters were located, and as it is such a distinct structure, it made sense to include the building in the James Bond films.  Before 1994 the locations of the secret service were secret.

Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, chose to put his version of the secret service in an office block overlooking Regent’s Park. At the time Fleming was writing his novels, and during the release of the first two Bond films, the SIS was based at 54 Broadway. Then in 1964, they moved to Century House at 100 Westminster Bridge Road, where they were until 1994. It’s hard to imagine Bond or M in this building. In a government report in 1985, it was called “irredeemably insecure” as it was made mostly of glass and had a petrol station at its base. The Daily Telegraph once said that it was “London’s worst-kept secret, known only to every taxi driver, tourist guide and KGB agent”.

5-Bond’s Closest Ally

The character of Bill Tanner is M’s chief of staff and has been played by four actors over eight films. Michael Goodliffe (uncredited) in The Man with the Golden Gun, James Villiers in For Your Eyes Only, Michael Kitchen in Goldeneye and The World Is Not Enough and Rory Kinnear since Quantum of Solace. In the novels, Tanner is a minor character, but unlike in the films, Bond and Tanner are very close. They are friends, often play golf together, and Tanner is Bond’s closest ally in the British secret service. This friendship has never been explored in the films.


For fans of the Bond films who want to read the original novels, I would recommend reading them in order starting with Casino Royale. It’s hard to choose a favourite Bond novel, but I love Moonraker, which was the third Bond novel published in 1955. It bears no relation to the 1979 film apart from the name Hugo Drax. It’s the only novel where Bond stays in Britain, and in my view, it’s a blueprint for modern blockbusters. The stakes are raised much higher than in the previous two stories as Bond has to stop the destruction of London with a nuclear weapon. The book also reveals details about Bond’s life when he is not on a mission. The subject matter was heavily researched by Ian Fleming, and it shows. The book was way ahead of its time and in my view could possibly be the first techno-thriller. It’s also a book of its time and plays very strongly on the fears of the 1950’s as it’s about nuclear destruction, attack from above by rockets (the V2 attacks had been 10 years before), communism and the re-emergence of Nazism. And if you think that Bond always gets the girl, well…you will have to read the book. A year after publication there was a BBC radio adaptation of Moonraker broadcast in South Africa. It starred Bob Holness as James Bond. Holness is best remembered these days as the host of the popular quiz show (from the 80′ and 90’s) Blockbuster. Holness wasn’t the first actor to play Bond…

7-Barry Nelson and Casino Royale

The first actor to play James Bond was Barry Nelson in a 1954 television adaptation of Casino Royale. Nelson was a successful and popular character actor in his day and these days is best known for playing Stuart Ullman, the manager of The Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s film of The Shining. The television Casino Royale was the third episode of a new American anthology television show called Climax. It was broadcast in the USA on October the 21st 1954. Ian Fleming was paid $1000 for the rights. As James Bond was not yet the well-known character he would become quite a number of liberties were taken with the story. In the episode James Bond is American, Vesper Lynd and Rene Mathis are combined into one character called Valerie Mathis, and Felix Leiter is changed to Clarence Leiter and is working for British Intelligence. The episode is worth watching as a curious period piece and also because Le Chiffre is played by legendary actor Peter Lorre who is the best actor in it. The episode can be watched for free on YouTube.

8- Daddy Bond

In No Time To Die it’s revealed that Bond is a father. But Bond actually fathers a child in the original novels. At the end of the novel of You Only Live Twice, Bond loses his memory and conceives a child with Kissy Suzuki. Bond leaves before Suzuki has a chance to tell him that she is pregnant with his child. Whether Fleming would have explored the fate of this child in future novels, we will never know as Fleming died shortly after publication. The fate of the child was explored in a short story by Rayond Benson called Blast From The Past. In this story Bond has a son from Kissy called…you guessed it, James. 

9-Scrambled Eggs’ James Bond’

The recipe for Scrambled Eggs’ James Bond’ is revealed in a short story called 007 In New York. Ian Fleming loved scrambled eggs and it’s his own recipe. It’s not known how often Bond eats this as it involves twelve eggs although the recipe does serve four people. Fleming insists that it is served “on hot buttered toast on individual copper dishes (for appearance only) with pink champagne (Taittinger) and low music.”

10-Coffee Over Tea

James Bond does not like Tea. When he is not drinking alcohol, he drinks coffee. In the novel Goldfinger, Bond says, “I don’t drink Tea. I hate it. It’s mud. Moreover it’s one of the main reasons for the downfall of the British Empire.” In the novel Thunderball, Fleming says of Bond, “Bond loathed and despised tea, that flat, soft, time-wasting opium of the masses.” Bond’s taste usually reflected those of his creator Ian Fleming. Bond drinks coffee a number of times in the books and films. Bond drinks coffee from an American filter machine called a Chemex. In the ’50s, this was the height of sophistication, and most people in Britain had never heard of it and definitely would not own a coffee machine. This shows how much Bond favours coffee over Tea. 

Want to know more about James Bond? Why not book our James Bond Walking Tour of London? 

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10 Facts About Ian Fleming That You Probably Didn’t Know.

April 13th 2023, will mark the 70th anniversary of the publication of the first James Bond novel Casino Royale in 1953. James Bond will be 70. So to mark the anniversary, here are some facts relating to the creator of James Bond, Ian Fleming. As it’s the 70th anniversary, and Commander Bond turns 70 I wanted to come up with 70 facts, but I was ordered to never say 70 again. So we’ve whittled it down to our favourite 10.

1  – Cigarettes

Ian Fleming was a prolific smoker who smoked 60 cigarettes a day and when he was gambling up to 70. He liked to greedily suck the smoke through a long ebony cigarette holder. During the Second World War, one of Fleming’s colleagues in the Admiralty complained that Fleming had a constantly runny nose from the very strong cigarettes he was smoking. When in London, Flemming would buy his cigarettes from a tobacconist called Morland and Co based at 83 Grosvenor Street. They were handmade especially for him, with no filter and triple gold bands as a decoration, which mirrored the three bands on Fleming’s uniform during the war when he served as a naval commander. 

When James Bond became a popular character, Morland and Co made a deal with Ian Fleming to make a James Bond Special cigarette with gold bands. They were sold in blue boxes of fifty or one hundred. Two versions of the cigarettes were made, one with the name James Bond on each cigarette and one without. Each box came with matches advertising the cigarettes. 

2 – Turner’s House

One of the houses that Ian Fleming lived in had once belonged to the painter JMW Turner. Fleming’s father, Valentine, had been killed by shellfire during the First World War. In 1923 Fleming’s mother, Eve, bought three adjoining workers’ cottages and turned them into one home. With a striking lack of originality, Eve called her new home Turner’s House as the famous painter had lived there for the last eighteen years of his life and had died there in 1851. 

3 – Ian Fleming’s Little Sister

It’s widely known that Ian Fleming had three brothers. His older brother Peter and younger brothers Richard and Michael. But Fleming also had a sister who was born when he was 17. Fleming’s mother, Eve, had a relationship with the famous painter Augustus John. After accompanying John to Berlin in the spring of 1925, she returned to London pregnant. Eve was an unmarried widower and wanted to avoid scandal. She told all her staff that they would have to find another job and then disappeared for the rest of the year. She returned in December with a baby girl called Amaryllis, whom she claimed she had adopted. Amaryllis believed she had been adopted until her early twenties when she finally learned Eve was her birth mother and Augustus John was her father. Amaryllis became a very successful cello player and teacher, and the Royal College of Music concert hall is named after her.

4 – Ian Fleming, The Tart, And The 43 Club

Ian Fleming was educated at Eton and went on to become a cadet at The Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, where he would train for eighteen months to become an officer in the British Army. While there, one of his tutors said Fleming would become a good soldier “provided that the ladies don’t ruin him”. Whilst training at Sandhurst, Fleming had a relationship with a young woman called Peggy Bernhard. Peggy had a longstanding arrangement to go to a ball with another young man. Fleming was very jealous of this arrangement and threatened to go to London to “find myself a tart”. When Peggy went to the ball with the other man, Fleming carried out his threat. Fleming headed to the notorious 43 Club, a nightclub at 43 Gerrard Street in Soho. He had sex with a hostess in a back room of the club and a few days later was diagnosed with gonorrhoea. As Fleming couldn’t afford the treatment, he was forced to tell his mother, Eve, who was enraged. He was booked into a clinic for treatment, his relationship with Peggy was over, his mother pulled him out of Sandhurst, and he never completed his officer training.  

5 – Ian Fleming’s Wembley Motorcycle Trip

Ian Fleming was lifelong friends with Ivar Bryce. They had met on a beach when they were both children, went to Eton, and were friends for the rest of their lives. At Eton in the early 1920s, Bryce bought a motorbike. On a school holiday, Bryce and Fleming broke school rules and rode the motorbike to Wembley to see the British Empire Exhibition. On the way back to Eton, the pair were overtaken on the road and seen by a very unpopular and severe Eton master, who the boys called “Satan” Ford. They feared they would be expelled. Ford was the German teacher, and the next time Fleming had to show him a composition, Ford gave him a pointed look and said, “Very good, Fleming. You must have put in some work during the holiday.”

6 – The Mercury Network

After serving in naval intelligence during World War 2, Fleming worked as the foreign manager of the Kemsley newspaper group. He worked at The Sunday Times offices at 200 Gray’s Inn Road. On his office wall was an expensive map of the world with flashing lights, each representing a correspondent of the Kemsley Imperial and Foreign Service, also known as Mercury. Fleming was well aware that a number of the correspondents for the newspaper group were either being used by MI6 to gather information for Britain’s foreign intelligence service or that some correspondents were actually MI6 agents undercover as correspondents.

7 – A Strange Question At The Ivy

The Ivy is a famous restaurant on West Street which was, and is, popular with actors and celebrities. It was there on May 12th 1952, that Ian Fleming had lunch with a good friend of his called William Plomer, who was an author and poet. During the lunch, Fleming asked Plomer, “William, how do you get cigarette smoke out of a woman once you’ve got it in?” Plomer thought it was a sexual question and was confused why his friend Ian would ask him as Plomer was gay. Fleming said that he didn’t want to use a word like “exhales” and that “puffs it out” sounded silly. It was then that Plomer realised his friend had written a book. This book was Casino Royale which was to become the first of the James Bond novels. Plomer wanted to see the manuscript, but Fleming was reluctant. Two months later, Fleming finally relented, and Plomer read Casino Royale. He loved it and was instrumental in getting the novel published by Jonathan Cape the following year.

8 – Warwick House

On the east side of Green Park is Warwick House which after World War 2 was the home of Esmond Harmsworth, also known as Lord Rothermere and his wife, Ann. Ann had an affair with Ian Fleming for many years, and he would visit Ann at Warwick House when her husband was away. In 1948 Ann gave birth to a baby girl. Her husband thought the child was his, but Ian Fleming was the father. Tragically, the child Mary died after a few hours. All three parents were devastated. Eventually, Ann and Esmond divorced, Ann married Ian Fleming, and they had a son called Caspar. 

9 – Books

Ian Fleming loved books. He owned a great many of them and was a voracious reader. In 1929 at the age of 21, Fleming was walking down Bond street when he entered a bookshop called Dulau. Inside he met the manager, who was called Percy Muir. Muir was fourteen years older than Fleming, a cockney, self-educated and very left-wing. Although being very different, the pair hit it off, and that meeting was the beginning of a lifelong friendship. Muir was a bibliophile, and he helped Fleming become a serious collector of books. After Fleming’s death, his widow Ann sold his huge library of books to the University of Indiana and it was Muir who helped to pack the books for shipment.

10 – Russian Condoms

This final story is one of my favourite Ian Fleming stories. In 1939 before the outbreak of war, Fleming went to Moscow to cover a trade delegation as a special correspondent for The Times. He was almost certainly spying too. While in Moscow, he struck up a friendship with another journalist named Sefton Delmer. As they left Russia, they shared a compartment on the Warsaw Express. As they were approaching the Russian Border, Delmer was committing to memory notes that he had taken about Russia. He didn’t want them seized at the border, so after remembering them, he ripped them up and threw them out of the window. Ian laughed at Delmer, “Why don’t you swallow them? All the best spies do.” At the border, the Russian customs officers carefully searched Fleming’s luggage and found a box of Russian condoms. They were not for personal use. They were made of artificial latex, and Fleming thought that if he brought back a box, then they could be examined to determine the success of Soviet industrialisation. The condoms were taken out and examined very closely while Fleming was extremely embarrassed. Delmer got his own back and said, “You should have swallowed them.”

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