Author Ian Fleming gave his iconic British spy a tragic back story. James Bond lost his parents in climbing accident in the French Alps, leaving him an orphan. A new book is claiming that the real life inspiration of the character of M specifically targeted orphans to be spies.
The book, Henry Hemming‘s Maxwell Knight: MI5’s Greatest Spymaster, tells how Knight felt that being orphaned at a young age would create a sense of loyalty to the agency and they would end up seeing their spymaster as a father figure. Knight, known as M to his colleagues, would look for the kids who stood on the sidelines and watched.
Hemming talked with the Telegraph and said of the historical figure:
“M was looking for watchers: people who pick up unusual details that other people might not. And in his experience, usually these are people who have been held back in some way in childhood. Somebody who has lost a parent at an early age, or had some physical handicap meaning they hadn’t been able to join in with games when they were growing up, so they were literally on the sidelines.”
The other interesting traits M looked for were a sense of humor and good memory:
“The first [quality] was, strangely enough, having a sense of humour. M would always say that someone who neither made jokes nor got jokes was unlikely to ever think fast on their feet. The other was memory, loyalty was also crucial [and] the ability to not only lie but also to know you are being lied to. He wanted someone who was motivated in other words someone who was patriotic and wanted to serve their country.”
Hemming pulled his information from declassified documentation to find Knight’s recruits to show the pattern that took place in the 30 years he worked for MI5.
Looks like Fleming also followed Knight’s patterns when he “recruited” Bond for Casino Royale.
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