Wired looks back at the publication and creation of the world’s greatest fictional spy. On this day, in 1953, British publishing house Jonathan Cape published Ian Fleming’s first novel, Casino Royale. The world would be a much more boring place without James Bond, 007.
Though his desk-bound duties laid the foundation for his espionage fiction, they kept Fleming out of the field. When he turned to writing after the war, he poured that frustration into his fictional alter ego — making sure Bond was always in on the action. Searching for a moniker that seemed British without sounding too dramatic, Fleming chose his MI6 hero’s name from the author of the book, Bond’s Birds of the West Indies.
It was not the first spy novel, but Casino Royale would elevate the espionage genre into the elite levels of popular culture. Arthur Conan Doyle, William Le Queux and Joseph Conrad were only some of the accomplished authors who took a shot at spy fiction in previous decades. But, Fleming was the first to combine style and sexiness with the dangerous world of espionage.
Fleming basically invented a literary genre that is now the de rigueur of best-seller lists. Sort of related, of course, is the new site Bond Mixology — which examines every drink consumed by Bond throughout the movies.
Also? How has there not been an Ian Fleming biopic made with Geoffrey Rush as Fleming? That shit would be off the hook.