Queen Anne Press are to distribute the Pegasus Books hardcover edition of Goldeneye: Where James Bond Was Born from 11th May 2015. The book was first published in the UK by Hutchinson / Random House in August 2014, and explores the importance of Jamaica in the creation of the fictional British super spy.
From 1946 until the end of his life, James Bond creator Ian Fleming lived for two months of every year at Goldeneye – the house he built on a point of high land overlooking a small white sand beach on Jamaica’s north coast. All the James Bond novels and stories were written here.
Fleming adored the Jamaica he had discovered, at the time an imperial backwater that seemed unchanged from the glory days of the empire. Amid its stunning natural beauty, the austerity and decline of post-war Britain could be forgotten. For him, Jamaica offered the perfect mixture of British old-fashioned conservatism and imperial values, alongside the dangerous and sensual: the same curious combination that made his novels so appealing, and successful. The spirit of the island – its exotic beauty, its unpredictability, its melancholy, its love of exaggeration and gothic melodrama – infuses his writing.
Fleming threw himself into the island’s hedonistic ‘Jet Set’ party scene: Hollywood giants, and the cream of British aristocracy, the theatre, literary society and the secret services spent their time here drinking and bed-hopping. But while the whites partied, Jamaican blacks were rising up to demand respect and self-government. (Parker notes Fleming’s suggestions of revolt in Doctor No and says of the Queen’s Club, based on a real bastion of the white elite, Kingston’s Liguanea Club, Fleming writes that “One day it will have its windows smashed and perhaps be burned to the ground.”)
And as the imperial hero James Bond – projecting British power across the world – became ever more anachronistic and fantastical, so his popularity soared.
Drawing on extensive interviews with Ian’s family, his Jamaican lover Blanche Blackwell and many other islanders, Goldeneye is a beautifully written, revealing and original exploration of a crucially important part of Ian Fleming’s life and work.
Born in Central America in 1970, Matthew Parker spent part of his childhood in the West Indies. He has written for most UK national newspapers as well as The Literary Review, History Today and BBC History Magazine, as well as lecturing around the world and contributing to TV and radio programmes in the UK, Canada and US. His bestselling and critically-acclaimed books include Monte Cassino, Panama Fever and The Sugar Barons.
“Parker – himself born in Central America with a West Indies childhood to follow – is highly aware of the complicated colonial (and less colonial) ownership of Jamaica and how such proprietorships have their own evolutions, devolutions, fall outs and successes. Likewise, this work is also a vital record of the governors, wives, mistresses, laws (both at home and abroad), newspaper magnates (this book crosses history timelines with my own Catching Bullets more than once), vivacious lady pals, boozing and all manner of fallen aristocrats afforded a societal rise on the island.”
“Parker’s book is required reading for anyone interested in Fleming. Beyond a trove of fascinating facts, such as the real life inspiration for “The Hildebrand Rarity,” it offers a many never-before seen pictures. Parker depends on Lycett and Pearson’s Fleming biographies, but he also makes expert use of Fleming journalism’s for Horizon, The Spectator, and The Sunday Times. Best of all, he has interviewed Blanche Blackwell, still kicking at 102 years old.”
• Watch an interview with Matthew Parker on the James Bond Radio Podcast