SpyCast 5.21.24
Ep 634 | 5.21.24

“The Real Ian Fleming” with Nicholas Shakespeare

Show Notes


Nicholas Shakespeare (X; Website) joins Andrew (XLinkedIn) to discuss the life and legacy of Ian Fleming. Nicholas is an award-winning novelist and biographer.  

What You’ll Learn


  • Fleming’s family and upbringing
  • Debunking misconceptions about Fleming’s character
  • Fleming’s career in intelligence
  • British Naval Intelligence operations during WWII


  • Life influencing literature
  • The lasting impact of storytelling

And much, much more …

Episode Notes

This week on SpyCast, Andrew was joined by novelist Nicholas Shakespeare, author of the new biography Ian Fleming: The Complete Man. This is the first authorized biography of Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, since 1966. Nicholas has previously authored fourteen fiction and non-fiction books, including a fascinating exploration of the mysterious life of his aunt Priscilla, a British woman living in Nazi-occupied France. 

In this episode, Andrew and Nicholas discuss the complicated and often misconstrued life of Ian Fleming. Before he authored the original James Bond series, Fleming grew up in an aristocratic family, was educated at Eton, and eventually served under Real Admiral John Godfrey in Britain’s Naval Intelligence Division. Tune in to learn more about the true life and story that inspired the iconic 007. 


Ian Fleming’s previous authorized biographer, John Pearson, shared a desk with Nicholas’ father, John Shakespeare, during their time working at the Times Educational Supplement during the 1950s. When Nicholas began work on Ian Fleming: The Complete Man, he was able to reconnect the two men after 66 years. 

Quotes of the Week

“Whatever the ingredients of Bond – As a kind of, both a hero of modernization, but also as a symbol of retrospective power – The films have allowed this protean creature to exist in the future, in the present, and so that almost all over the world, the words, the names “Bond, James Bond” will ignite a smile.” – Nicholas Shakespeare.



*Spotlight Resource*

  • Ian Fleming: The Complete Man, Nicholas Shakespeare (Harper, 2024)


*Beginner Resources*



  • Ian Fleming’s War: The Inspiration for 007, M. Simmons (Rare Bird Books, 2021)
  • The Man with the Golden Typewriter: Ian Fleming's James Bond Letters, ed. F. Fleming (Bloomsbury, 2016) 
  • The Life of Ian Fleming, J. Pearson (Jonathan Cape, 1966)



Primary Sources 

*Wildcard Resource*