While Ian Fleming himself never liked to be compared to the fictitious secret agent that he wrote to life during his twilight years, Mr. Fleming and James Bond were kindred spirits through and through. Fleming, much like 007, was wealthy, well-educated, and even served as a British intelligence officer during WWII. It was during this stint in the service that Fleming first visited Jamaica, the island destination from which he would pen all fourteen of his James Bond novels. Having fallen in love with the tropical atmosphere, which was unlike anything he had encountered during his English upbringing, Fleming returned to Jamaica at the conclusion of the war and purchased a plot of waterfront property on northern coast of the island. Dubbing it “Goldeneye,” a name borrowed from a covert plan he had developed during the war, Fleming constructed a modest house overlooking the Caribbean where he would spend each winter for the following decades.
It was also around this time that Fleming began expressing to his friends that he wanted to write a spy novel. Six years after purchasing Goldeneye, Fleming sat down at his typewriter and fulfilled this goal by writing Casino Royale, his first Bond novel, in two months flat. For the rest of his life Fleming would return to Goldeneye during the first three months of every year to type up a new novel, returning to England each Spring with a completed manuscript.
The Jamaican setting might have helped stimulate Fleming’s creativity, but it did little to improve his health. Afternoons bled into evenings as Fleming guzzled pink gins while polluting the crisp Jamaican air with the fumes of his ever-present cigarette. It was a diet that the ageless Mr. Bond could maintain, but Fleming simply lived too hard as his vices drove him toward a fatal heart attack when he was just fifty-six years old.
Though the final chapter of Fleming’s life had been written, this fortunately did not mark the end of Goldeneye. Twelve years after Fleming met his untimely demise his estate was purchased by none other than Bob Marley, who swiftly resold Goldeneye to Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records. Goldeneye held some sentimental value for Blackwell whose mother Blanche had a long-term affair with Fleming (oh yeah, did we forget to mention that Fleming also shared Bond’s insatiable appetite for female companionship?) and is considered by many to be the love of his life and the inspiration for Pussy Galore. Blackwell still owns the property today, although it has now been converted into the Goldeneye Hotel and Resort, so you too can now live like James Bond. Or at least the man behind Mr. Bond.