Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ian Fleming -- the Early Years

Okay, here's the story I promised you yesterday.

Hope Mirrlees, you must understand, was born into aristocracy, and (skipping over a great deal of genealogical complication) her nephew, Prince Robin de la Lanne-Mirrlees, had a long association with Ian Fleming. On Her Majesty's Secret Service was dedicated to him, and a character in one of the Bond novels who held down the fictional title of Sable Basilisk Pursuivant was based partially on him. (Robin Mirrlees was Rouge Dragon Pursuivant of the College of Arms -- one of the greatest job titles ever! -- and as such attended Queen Elizabeth II's coronation.)

Long before any of this, however, Ian Fleming went up to Robin's mother, Countess Frances de La Lanne-Mirrlees, who was a noted beauty of the day (as, having seen a copy of Man Ray's photo of her I can attest), and told her was writing a novel.

"Oh, Ian," she said. "Don't write a novel -- you haven't the brains for it."



Zvi said...

Rogue Dragon Pursuivant led me on a merry wikipedia romp through various amusing titles of Officers of Arms (Unicorn Pursuivant of Arms in Ordinary?), so thank you for that!

Michael Z. Williamson said...

He must have met her in the late 40s, then, since OHMSS was just about his last novel, in 1963.