You only live twice:
Once when you are born
And once when you look death in the face

Ian Fleming the intelligence operative of World War II, and accomplished author of the James Bond series died on this day in 1964.  

Fleming was nearly as fascinating a character as his James Bond alter ego. He was born in England on May 28, 1908. His father Valentine was an MP (Minister of Parliament) for Henley. When World War I broke out, his father was commissioned as a captain in the Queen’s Own Hussars and was promoted to major just four months later. In May of 1917, the Queen’s Hussars were opposite the Hindenburg Line near St. Quentin. During an artillery barrage, Valentine was hit and killed instantly. Winston Churchill wrote his obituary for “The Times” and young Ian kept a copy of it in his bedroom for his entire life.

Fleming entered Eton College in 1924. He wasn’t the best student academically, however, he was an accomplished athlete, twice being named Victor Ludorum (Winner of the Games) for two years between 1925 and 1927. He also edited the school magazine, The Wyvern, and published his first short story, “The Ordeal of Caryl St. George.”

Fleming had a penchant for fast cars and faster women, much like Bond. The headmaster and his mother agreed that he’d leave school a semester early to prepare for the military academy at Sandhurst, hoping that he would mature. He remained there for only a year and left without a commission after contracting a sexually transmitted disease.

He tried to get a posting in the British Foreign Office, with the help of his mother but failed his entrance exams. As a result, his mother sent him to mainland Europe to study languages. Flemming lived in Austria, Munich, and Geneva, working on his German and French. His reputation as a womanizer was already well deserved until he met a Swiss woman named Monique Panchaud de Bottomes. 

They met at a ball and Fleming was instantly smitten with “the slim, dark-haired local beauty.” She was equally attracted to the young, athletic Englishman. The couple considered themselves unofficially engaged and Fleming spent all of his spare time at the Bottomes’ chateau. But his overbearing mother, disapproving of the match, forced him to break it off, after using emotional, professional, and financial pressure on him.

Fleming may have carried a torch for her as his James Bond character would have a Swiss mother named Monique in the Bond novel, “You Only Live Twice.” In the book, Bond’s mother is described as Monique Delacroix, from the Canton of Vaud.