Friday, April 04, 2008


People were named after things, and things were named after people. His lover in later life, Blanche Blackwell, gave him a small boat named Octopussy, which became the name of a man-eating pet octopus in the short story. In rather ungallant return, Fleming named the ancient guano tanker in Dr No the Blanche.

The crime boss Marc-Ange Draco in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is named after El Draco, the Spanish name for Sir Francis Drake – a reference picked up years later by J. K. Rowling for her Hogwarts antihero, Draco Malfoy.

Rosa Klebb (the Russian for bread) was partly based on Colonel Rybkin of Soviet intelligence. Major Boothroyd, the secret service armourer, is named in honour of Geoffrey Boothroyd, the gun expert who provided Fleming with invaluable technical advice.


Fleming’s villains, like his heroes, are patchworks of different people, names and traits. Le Chiffre, the Benzedrine-sniffing villain of Casino Royale, is believed to be based on Aleister Crowley, who gained notoriety in inter-war Britain as “the Wickedest Man in the World”.

Crowley was a bisexual, sado-masochistic drug addict. A master of Thelemic mysticism (“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”), he specialised in mountaineering, interpreting the Ouija board, orgies and thrashing his lovers. The press simultaneously adored and hated him. Crowley made Le Chiffre seem positively sane.

1 comment:

Nico said...

Hrm, that description of Crowley leaves much to be desired, not to mention that dubbing him "a master of Thelemic mysticism" sort of sidesteps the point that he founded the religious philosophy in the first place.