Bond's Scottish Ancestry

For years, I thought Fleming gave Bond his Scottish ancestry in the obituary of You Only Live Twice, in 'tribute, (for want of a better word), to Connery's cinematic portrayal.
So I was interested to read the following this morning from the excellent Some Kind of Hero book, (a fiver from The Works, bargain!)
Before any actor was cast, Fleming envisioned James Bond should have a background similar to himself, Bond's mother was Swiss, and Bond's father was from a Scottish family, but raised in England. Fleming had conceived Bond's Scottish ancestry when researching the Bond family name years before.

In the Some Kind of Hero book's copious notes towards the end, the above quote is attributed to The Making of OHMSS page 22, published 2009. I don't have this book, (if it is indeed a book).

Can anyone throw any light on this? I don't remember reading about a Scottish father in any pre-YOLT books.

Comments

  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 21,079
    THE MAKING OF OHMSS is a book, a very good one, in fact. You can still buy it here:
    https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Making-of-on-Her-Majesty-s-Secret-Service/9780984412600

    It's worth the money!

    I presume that Fleming had some of Bond's origins mapped out in his head, prior to writing YOLT. I did, however, also always assume that it was Connery's casting and Fleming's ultimate approval of said casting that motivated him to consider the Scottish heritage. Now I'm confused too. ;-)
  • edited March 2020 Posts: 623
    Thanks Darthdimi.
    It's been many years since I read OHMSS, and with free time this morning I dipped into it and was surprised to see in chapter six Bond of Bond Street, Bond is telling the professor from the College of Arms about his Scottish father,
    "My father came from the Highlands, from a place near Glencoe".
    The book was first published April 1963. So was this Fleming's 'tribute' to Connery, and not the YOLT obit, which I had been led to believe was his official nod?
    Yet the Some Kind of Hero book suggests Fleming had Bond's Scottish ancestry in mind 'years before'.
    Has anyone got their Making of OHMSS handy? I'd love to know what it says on page 22.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    Posts: 10,706
    Does the Bond name have roots in Scotland then? It sounds quite English to me.
  • ThunderballThunderball playing Chemin de Fer in a casino, downing Vespers
    Posts: 738
  • Posts: 623
    The professor from the College of Arms waffles on quite a bit about the Bond surname in chapter 6 of OHMSS, though none of it applies to James Bond, and Bond isn't interested at all, he wants to talk about Blofeld. But yes, it's a very English name, and the professor is excited by possible links to Bond Street,(hence the chapter title).
    I think for Bond aficionados, the interesting question is - was the literary Bond's Scottish ancestry really a tribute to Connery, or was it worked out before the casting, as Some Kind of Hero suggests?
    And I say again, for a fiver it's a steal. 800 plus pages of fantastic Bond research.
    https://www.theworks.co.uk/p/popular-biographies/some-kind-of-hero/9780750969772

  • JamesCraigJamesCraig Ancient Rome
    Posts: 3,497
    Glè inntinneach.
  • j_w_pepperj_w_pepper What does it matter to you...when you got a job to do
    Posts: 6,253
    Slàinte.
  • ggl007ggl007 www.archivo007.com Spain, España
    Posts: 2,495
    shamanimal wrote: »
    Thanks Darthdimi.
    It's been many years since I read OHMSS, and with free time this morning I dipped into it and was surprised to see in chapter six Bond of Bond Street, Bond is telling the professor from the College of Arms about his Scottish father,
    "My father came from the Highlands, from a place near Glencoe".
    The book was first published April 1963. So was this Fleming's 'tribute' to Connery, and not the YOLT obit, which I had been led to believe was his official nod?
    Yet the Some Kind of Hero book suggests Fleming had Bond's Scottish ancestry in mind 'years before'.
    Has anyone got their Making of OHMSS handy? I'd love to know what it says on page 22.

    Nothing at all on page 22, BUT on page 8 it's where you can find the story.

    Basically, Fleming started his research on the College of Arms in 1960. Correspondence with Robin Mirrlees (Sable Basilisk in the novel) apparently proves that Fleming was considering already a Scottish background for Bond.

    Helfenstein's is a great book ;)
  • edited March 2020 Posts: 2,580
    What Helfenstein reveals is that when Fleming commissioned the College of Arms to do genealogical research in late 1960, he asked if Bond possibly had Scottish roots. Why did Fleming ask this? Because he had a Scottish paternal grandfather. And since Bond shared many of Fleming's attributes, his creator was naturally curious if Bond also had Scottish ancestry.

    But there is a big difference between having Scottish ancestry and identifying as a Scot. The facts are that in every Bond book before OHMSS Bond was explicitly identified as English--identified by himself, by the narrator, and by other characters. Anyone who doesn't believe this is welcome to do a text search of the books! Only after Connery was cast, during the writing of OHMSS, did Fleming suddenly reveal that Bond was half-Scottish and regarded himself as a Scot ("we can be married again in an English church, or Scottish rather. That's where I come from"). The Ursula Andress reference in OHMSS shows how much the upcoming Bond film was in Fleming's mind when he was writing the book.

    Before Connery there was no indication whatsoever in the books that Bond had any Scottishness in him. It's possible that without Connery Fleming would have written OHMSS with just a brief reference to Bond's Scottish roots, and we would not have had Bond calling himself a "Scottish peasant" in TMWTGG. But with Connery's casting, Fleming decided to stress Bond's Scottishness, which he had never before revealed to his readers. Fleming's own Scottish roots made this task even more pleasant. And he also gave Bond a Swiss mother, perhaps because of the book's Swiss setting, and more likely because he was very fond of giving his characters split-nationalities (an interesting topic for a later post).
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 21,079
    On a side note, Helfenstein's books are excellent, both of them. I wish he'd give more films that treatment. His treatments are treats to us.
  • I'm sure Fleming had Scottish origins planned for Bond before Connery came on the scene anyway, as much of Fleming was passed on to the fictional character.

    It's interesting that Bond is never attached to Scotland in any novel before OHMSS. And in all the previous novels he's simply described as English, many times. His Scottish ancestry is only bought to light in the first post Connery novel, OHMSS where Ursula Andress is also mentioned. The Dr No movie was obviously on his mind.
    I'm sure it's true he looked in to Bond's roots pre-Connery, but would he have made such a point of mentioning these roots (they're mentioned in all of the last three novels if I remember correctly), if the man cast as James Bond on screen wasn't obviously Scottish?
    I don't know.
  • Posts: 2,870
    I'm sure Fleming had Scottish origins planned for Bond before Connery came on the scene anyway, as much of Fleming was passed on to the fictional character.

    It's interesting that Bond is never attached to Scotland in any novel before OHMSS. And in all the previous novels he's simply described as English, many times. His Scottish ancestry is only bought to light in the first post Connery novel, OHMSS where Ursula Andress is also mentioned. The Dr No movie was obviously on his mind.
    I'm sure it's true he looked in to Bond's roots pre-Connery, but would he have made such a point of mentioning these roots (they're mentioned in all of the last three novels if I remember correctly), if the man cast as James Bond on screen wasn't obviously Scottish?
    I don't know.

    Like I mentioned in the other thread, Fleming's home as a child was in Scotland (Glencoe)?

    The Sunspel clothing label did a Fleming winter wardrobe last year (approved by the Fleming estate), and much of it was using Scottish materials, to tie in with Fleming.
  • Prepare for that Scottish ancestry to be West African or South East Asian ancestry if some people get their wish.
  • edited December 2021 Posts: 14,031
    I'm sure Fleming had Scottish origins planned for Bond before Connery came on the scene anyway, as much of Fleming was passed on to the fictional character.

    It's interesting that Bond is never attached to Scotland in any novel before OHMSS. And in all the previous novels he's simply described as English, many times. His Scottish ancestry is only bought to light in the first post Connery novel, OHMSS where Ursula Andress is also mentioned. The Dr No movie was obviously on his mind.
    I'm sure it's true he looked in to Bond's roots pre-Connery, but would he have made such a point of mentioning these roots (they're mentioned in all of the last three novels if I remember correctly), if the man cast as James Bond on screen wasn't obviously Scottish?
    I don't know.

    I find this very interesting. Seems to me, and it's been years since I read the later Fleming books, that he stopped mentioning the comma of hair and scar post Connery. I can easily picture Connery in the later novels, especially during Bond's rapport with Tiger in YOLT,

    Jimjambond wrote: »
    Prepare for that Scottish ancestry to be West African or South East Asian ancestry if some people get their wish.

    I tend to wonder, hypothetically if say...... Idris Elba or Jackie Chan were cast as Bond, would the change in ethnicity be specifically mentioned in the film or would it be business as usual? Would the film carry on and the new actor give his Bond performance without any reference to his background?
  • ToTheRight wrote: »
    I find this very interesting. Seems to me, and it's been years since I read the later Fleming books, that he stopped mentioning the comma of hair and scar post Connery. I can easily picture Connery in the later novels, especially during Bond's rapport with Tiger in YOLT,

    Irma Bunt mentions Bond's scar in YOLT, (I only know this because I read that passage yesterday). It's at the end of chapter eleven. So I think the Fleming still wanted remind the reader of the literal Bond, but I also think there's a very strong argument for him underlining Bond's Scottish roots because of Connery.
  • Posts: 14,031
    ToTheRight wrote: »
    I find this very interesting. Seems to me, and it's been years since I read the later Fleming books, that he stopped mentioning the comma of hair and scar post Connery. I can easily picture Connery in the later novels, especially during Bond's rapport with Tiger in YOLT,

    Irma Bunt mentions Bond's scar in YOLT, (I only know this because I read that passage yesterday). It's at the end of chapter eleven. So I think the Fleming still wanted remind the reader of the literal Bond, but I also think there's a very strong argument for him underlining Bond's Scottish roots because of Connery.

    Good. Thanks for clearing that up. It's been ages since I read those books. I should replace some of my Fleming books. I moved several years ago, and had to part with a lot of my Bond stuff.
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