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Ian Fleming and Goldeneye Facts

Goldeneye is the original name of novelist Ian Fleming’s estate on Oracabessa bay on the northern coastline of Jamaica.

Goldeneye is the original name of novelist Ian Fleming’s estate on Oracabessa bay on the northern coastline of Jamaica.

He purchased 15 acres (61,000 m2) adjacent to the Golden Clouds estate in 1946 and built his home on the edge of a cliff overlooking a private beach.

The three bedroom structure was constructed from Fleming’s sketch, fitted with wooden jalousie windows and a swimming pool.

Fleming’s visitors at Goldeneye included actors, musicians, and filmmakers.

Ian Fleming and Goldeneye Facts

  • Ian Lancaster Fleming was born 28 May 1908 and he passed away 12th August 1964
  • In 1942 Fleming went to meet his American opposite from the Office of Naval Intelligence and he stayed with fellow Etonian and childhood friend, Ivar Bryce, who’s second wife owned a house there. After the visit Fleming vowed to Bryce that he would come back after the war and build a house.
  • Fleming went back in 1946 and found a disused donkeys’ racecourse by the sea near Ocho Rios, Oracabessa Bay. This is where he built his house on the edge of a cliff overlooking a private beach. He named it GoldenEye and designed it himself.
  • GoldenEye was the name of one of the operations Fleming was involved with during World War II and he also happened to be reading Carson McCuller’s book Reflections in a Golden Eye at the time.
  • When first built, Fleming’s house looked barren and forbidding. In 1948 Fleming’s friend, Noel Coward (playwright, composer, director, actor and singer, known for his wit and flamboyance) became his first tenant paying £50 a week.
  • When designing GoldenEye, Fleming was frugal with space. “Who wants a big bedroom?” he liked to say and this frugality about space extended to his kitchen as well. He didn’t want glass in his windows. He preferred the tropical breezes to waft through the house, he built traditional slatted louvres or jalousies which could be folded back into the side of the window case.’
  • Fleming connected the main house with where he would go down to the sea to fish and swim, by hollowing out an area at the top of the cliff to make a sunken garden. He added chairs and a table with a sunshade. Then built concrete and rock stairs down to the beach.
  • Fleming hired north shore Jamaican, Violet Cummings as his housekeeper at GoldenEye. Violet cared for her beloved “Commander” for the next seventeen years.
  • His future wife, Lady Ann Rothermere came to visit GoldenEye for the first time in 1948. Fleming and Ann were married just off the coast at Port Maria in March 1952. Their only son, Caspar was born in London, August 1952
  • Fleming’s first draft of his first Bond novel CASINO ROYALE was written at GoldenEye in 1952 and published in 1953. Every subsequent novel was written at GoldenEye.
  • Fleming wrote 12 novels and two collections of short stories in Jamaica.
  • Fleming described his writing routine in an interview with Playboy: I get up with the birds, which is about half past seven, because they wake one up, and then I go and bathe in the ocean before breakfast. We don’t have to wear a swimsuit there, because it’s so private; my wife and I bathe and swim 100 yards or so and come back and have a marvellous proper breakfast with some splendid scrambled eggs made by my housekeeper, who’s particularly good at them, and then I sit out in the garden to get a sunburn until about ten. Only then do I set to work. I sit in my bedroom and type about 1,500 words straight-away, without looking back on what I wrote the day before. I have more or less thought out what I’m going to write, and, in any case, even if I make a lot of mistakes, I think, well, hell, when the book’s finished I can change it all. I think the main thing is to write fast and cursively in order to get narrative speed. Then, about quarter past 12, I chuck that and go down, with a snorkel and a spear, around the reefs looking for lobsters or whatever there may be, sometimes find them, sometimes don’t, and then I come back, I have a couple of pink gins, and we have a very good lunch, ordinary Jamaican food, and I have a siesta from about half past two until four. Then I sit again in the garden for about an hour or so, have another swim, and then I spend from six to seven –the dusk comes very suddenly in Jamaica; at six o’clock it suddenly gets very dark – doing another 500 words. I then number the pages, of which by that time there are about seven, put them away in a folder, and have a couple of powerful drinks, then dinner, occasionally a game of Scrabble with my wife. (Playboy Magazine interview December 1964, to use this quote or extracts from it permission must be sought from Ian Fleming Publications)
  • As a reward for completing CASINO ROYALE – Ian splashed out on a custom-made typewriter from New York. He placed an order with the Royal Typewriter Company for a special gold-plated version of its Quiet de Luxe model, priced at $174.
  • Fleming borrowed the name for the British secret agent from his ‘Jamaican bible’, A Field Guide to the Birds of the West Indies, by American ornithologist James Bond.
  • Fleming’s second novel LIVE AND LET DIE was first published by Jonathan Cape in the UK on 5 April 1954. It involved Jamaican locations as did his sixth novel, DR. NO, 1957.
  • GoldenEye hosted many famous guests including Anthony Eden, Truman Capote, Evelyn Waugh, Errol Flynn, Noel Coward, Lucian Freud, Cecil Beaton to name a few.
  • GoldenEye is now owned and operated by Island Outpost, founded by Chris Blackwell who formerly owned Island Records.

 

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