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Was James Bond an Englishman


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#1 DAN LIGHTER

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Posted 05 August 2009 - 12:02 PM

Is James Bond English?

I have always thought of James Bond as English. I know Fleming added the Scottish background due to Connery’s portrayal of Bond, but having a Scottish Father and a Swiss mother doesn’t make you Scottish/Swiss. He would have Scottish/Swiss heritage.
If you were born and brought up in England you would be what is referred to as an Englishman. My Grandfather was welsh but in my mind that doesnt make me Welsh, half Welsh or even quater Welsh. It just means that I have heritage in Wales.

I got a bit miffed because of The Facts of Death. In it Bond said he is not English or not an Englishman, and it made me think what the heck is going on? Is he an Englishman? Or not? B)

#2 MkB

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Posted 05 August 2009 - 12:13 PM

Well, the only evidence that I can think of off the top of my head, is that Bond refers to himself as "a Scottish peasant", at the very end of TMWTGG (novel).

#3 Major Tallon

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Posted 05 August 2009 - 12:16 PM

In a thread several years ago, I quoted a brief passage from Colonel Sun, which I think sums the situation up exactly. It's from Chapter Six, the scene where Bond first meets Ariadne:

"Mine is Bond, James Bond. How did you know just now that I spoke English?"
The girl laughed again. "Most people do. And you look English, Mr. Bond. Nobody could mistake you, not even for an American."
"As a matter of fact I'm not strictly English at all. Half Scottish, half Swiss."
"The English have swallowed you, then."

#4 David Schofield

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Posted 05 August 2009 - 12:50 PM

Perhaps Benson was trying to imply Bond was really an American...

Benson also said that Bond would never own a convertible (High Time to Kill); yet Fleming's Bond owned two, and looked at a third (Moonraker). Clearly, therefore - and for numberous other reasons - Benson's Bond is a different person to Fleming's.

On the Englishness thing - Bond told everyone he was English until OHMSS. Why Fleming went for the retcon in OHMSS other than as a nod to Connery, I really don't know, though continuity was never Flem's strong point. Hell, its almost as bad as Bond brushing a BLOND comma of hair from his wavy BLOND locks in OHMSS...

My take is that Bond may have had Scottish/Swiss ancestory, of which Scottish he felt most connected to. But he had been raised in an "English" way, as an Englshman, and therefore viewed himself as English.

I guess its a question all of us immigrants can only answer for themselves.

#5 DAN LIGHTER

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Posted 05 August 2009 - 02:55 PM

Its clear Fleming had a thing for Bonds Scottish routes. The rest seems to have been filled in by the continuation authors.

I take it his place of birth remains a mystery? I can’t recall reading it in any of the Fleming books.

#6 Major Tallon

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Posted 05 August 2009 - 04:01 PM

According to Pearson's James Bond, The Authorized Biography of 007, Bond was born in Wattenscheid, Germany.

That's as close a canonical response as I can give.

#7 DAN LIGHTER

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Posted 05 August 2009 - 04:53 PM

You learn something everyday. I didnt think Raymond Benson would get it wrong mind. I just always had old Bond down as a Englishman.

Edited by DAN LIGHTER, 05 August 2009 - 04:54 PM.


#8 marktmurphy

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Posted 05 August 2009 - 07:06 PM

Difficult to say how nationality is defined; personally I go with the OP's statement of it being where and the manner in which you're brought up rather than heritage; after all, all Englishmen will go back eventually to French, Norwegian, German etc. roots. And frankly there's few things that annoy me more than an English person trying to make themselves sound more interesting by claiming that they're Welsh or whatever because their name's Davies. (And yup: my name's Murphy and I'm English)

I'm sure I remember reading a passage in one Bond where Fleming described Bond as not really feeling at home in England and that his looks meant he could pass for other nationalities; did Bond express a liking for the US? I have a feeling that he did; plus he went in sort of disguise as an American in LALD with a buzz cut etc.
So Bond may not see himself as entirely English; perhaps he doesn't have any strong sense of nationality- although that is a bit odd for a man working for Her Majesty's Secret Service to protect the crown, but there we go. There was always a feeling he did what he did more for himself and a sense of justice than any strong patriotic feeling; I may be wrong.
For me, though- Bond is English. He was raised and lived in England, pretty much end of story.

Oh; and Timothy Dalton is not Welsh. B)

#9 OmarB

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Posted 05 August 2009 - 11:32 PM

He's English. I see Bond like I see myself, my dad's from India, my mother's from Jamaica but I was raised and educated in the US, so I'm American. Much the same way with James, he's a product of English schooling and English society so he's English no matter his background.

#10 MkB

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 12:37 AM

Much the same way with James, he's a product of English schooling and English society so he's English no matter his background.


But he studied at Fettes College in Edinburgh (far more longer than he did at Eton), didn't he?

So I'd say: he's British! B)

#11 Colebox

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 07:26 PM

I am currently reading OHMSS and just wanted to point out although in Chapter 19, Bond says that he is from Scotland, there is an earlier passage where Bond goes to see Griffon Or; Fleming seems to go to a great lengths to point out that Bond is "an old English name."

It's almost as if Fleming knows he has changed the nationality of Bond to suit Connery but still wants him to have English roots.

I wonder what the situation would have been if Fleming had laid down Bond's past before OHMSS?

FWIW for me Bond is English; the books before OHMSS often refer to him as an Englishman and many of the films do too.

#12 DAN LIGHTER

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Posted 19 June 2010 - 10:45 PM

Sorry, but I am having an identity crisis with Bond's English/Scottish/Swiss upbringing.

Did Higson get it wrong in Silverfin when he sent Bond to live with his Aunt in Scotland? Should it not have been Pett Bottom in England?

#13 Guy Haines

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Posted 20 June 2010 - 05:47 AM

In terms of ancestry, Bond isn't pure English. Neither am I - according to my family tree I'm a mix of English, Welsh, Cornish, and probably Scottish. An awful lot of English people have this "mixed" background.

But I was born and brought up in England, which, I suppose, makes me English. Bond was also raised an Englishman, although his education was English, Scottish (Tony Blair's old school, Fettes, after Bond was sent down from Eton) and European (if you count the time spent in Kitzbuhle, mentioned in the short story Octopussy). Also, in Moonraker the novel, Fleming mentions in passing that some in the Blades Club might, on meeting Bond, consider that there was something "vaguely un-English" about him.

Bond is an Englishman of non-English ancestry. Which means he has something in common with many of his fellow countrymen.

(Incidentally, whilst typing this I had a look at a picture frame which has a copy of the coat of arms for my family name. The name is Welsh - but the coat of arms features three lions, a symbol usually identified with the English. Sadly it doesn't feature a motto as memorable as "Orbis Non Sufficit" B) .)

(Also, as I recall, Bond's Aunt Charmian lived at "Pett Bottom" - what a name! - in Kent, not Scotland.)

#14 Righty007

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Posted 20 June 2010 - 06:20 AM

Sorry, but I am having an identity crisis with Bond's English/Scottish/Swiss upbringing.

Did Higson get it wrong in Silverfin when he sent Bond to live with his Aunt in Scotland? Should it not have been Pett Bottom in England?

It's been years since I've read SilverFin but I recall Higson having Bond sent to live with Aunt Charmian in Pett Bottom, not Scotland.

#15 David Schofield

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Posted 20 June 2010 - 08:10 AM

Sorry, but I am having an identity crisis with Bond's English/Scottish/Swiss upbringing.

Did Higson get it wrong in Silverfin when he sent Bond to live with his Aunt in Scotland? Should it not have been Pett Bottom in England?


Dan, old friend, don't beat yourself up on this.

James Bond WAS/IS an Englishman. In the same way as Winston Churchill was an Englshman*

* those who are wondering about the point I am making here should read up on Churchill's background. It may surprise those unfamiliar with it. It is NOT a reference to the film starring Christian Slater, however.

#16 DAN LIGHTER

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Posted 20 June 2010 - 08:40 AM

In terms of ancestry, Bond isn't pure English. Neither am I - according to my family tree I'm a mix of English, Welsh, Cornish, and probably Scottish. An awful lot of English people have this "mixed" background.

But I was born and brought up in England, which, I suppose, makes me English. Bond was also raised an Englishman, although his education was English, Scottish (Tony Blair's old school, Fettes, after Bond was sent down from Eton) and European (if you count the time spent in Kitzbuhle, mentioned in the short story Octopussy). Also, in Moonraker the novel, Fleming mentions in passing that some in the Blades Club might, on meeting Bond, consider that there was something "vaguely un-English" about him.

Bond is an Englishman of non-English ancestry. Which means he has something in common with many of his fellow countrymen.

(Incidentally, whilst typing this I had a look at a picture frame which has a copy of the coat of arms for my family name. The name is Welsh - but the coat of arms features three lions, a symbol usually identified with the English. Sadly it doesn't feature a motto as memorable as "Orbis Non Sufficit" :tdown: .)

(Also, as I recall, Bond's Aunt Charmian lived at "Pett Bottom" - what a name! - in Kent, not Scotland.)



I have welsh on my Fathers side but for obvious reasons think of myself as a English carrot cruncher.

My confusion stems from the Scotland bit in Silverfin, but on checking, it seems Bond joined his Aunt in Scotland who was looking after Bonds uncle. According to the Danger Society, Bond was brought up in London and Switzerland from the age of six and was in fact born in Zürich.


Sorry, but I am having an identity crisis with Bond's English/Scottish/Swiss upbringing.

Did Higson get it wrong in Silverfin when he sent Bond to live with his Aunt in Scotland? Should it not have been Pett Bottom in England?

It's been years since I've read SilverFin but I recall Higson having Bond sent to live with Aunt Charmian in Pett Bottom, not Scotland.


Looks like your correct there Righty. B)

Sorry, but I am having an identity crisis with Bond's English/Scottish/Swiss upbringing.

Did Higson get it wrong in Silverfin when he sent Bond to live with his Aunt in Scotland? Should it not have been Pett Bottom in England?


Dan, old friend, don't beat yourself up on this.

James Bond WAS/IS an Englishman. In the same way as Winston Churchill was an Englishman*

* those who are wondering about the point I am making here should read up on Churchill's background. It may surprise those unfamiliar with it. It is NOT a reference to the film starring Christian Slater, however.


I am getting better and learning to live with it David. :tdown:

#17 DLibrasnow

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Posted 20 June 2010 - 03:14 PM

It's almost as if Fleming knows he has changed the nationality of Bond to suit Connery but still wants him to have English roots.


Actually, according to the book "The Making of On Her Majesty's Secret Service" Fleming giving Bond Scottish roots had NOTHING to do with Sean Connery being Scottish.

#18 David Schofield

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Posted 20 June 2010 - 03:32 PM

It's almost as if Fleming knows he has changed the nationality of Bond to suit Connery but still wants him to have English roots.


Actually, according to the book "The Making of On Her Majesty's Secret Service" Fleming giving Bond Scottish roots had NOTHING to do with Sean Connery being Scottish.


But Charles DOESN'T EXACTLY say that, does he, Darren?

Charles establishes that Fleming set in motion reseach to confirm whether there might be a Scottish line to Bond heritage. The research does not prove such, nor does it entirely rule out the possibility.

However, what is established fact is that Fleming publicly disclosed a Scottish link for Bond with the publication of OHMSS AFTER he had seen Sean Connery as Bond in Dr No.

Therefore, until anyone produces documentary evidence that states Fleming DEFINTATELY intended Bond to be Scottish prior to Connery's performance, the point is mute.

As I have pointed out elsewhere, Fleming did not use the reseach he had commissioned in his immediate novel, The Spy Who Loved Me. He waited until OHMSS, by which time Connery's performance was public and hugely praised....

Sorry, Charles. We'll have to agree to disagree on this one.

#19 zencat

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Posted 20 June 2010 - 03:47 PM

Quoting doublenoughtspy on this topic from the Project X thread. Hope he doesn't mind.


David,

You are right - I don't come out and say "Connery had nothing to do with Bond being Scottish" but I think the evidence I provided certainly points more in that direction than Fleming radically changing plans for Bond's background the minute Connery was hired.

1) Fleming comes from Scottish lineage
2) He hires a Scottish nobleman to do research on Bond's family history - who specifically mentions trying to track down a Scottish Bond line in research from 1960 - years before Connery is on anybody's Bond radar.

Zencat - I'm glad you were surprised about and noted Fleming's long term research that I talk about in the book - I wish more people were aware of it. Fleming did try to play up that he went to Goldeneye to write a book and it came out that spring. Of course the book that came out was the one that he had written a year before, and thus research had begun prior to even that. So I really hate when people try to link historical events and claim that Fleming must have been influenced by something when the book might have been already in proof and about to launch, or he had been researching something similar years before and it was a coincidence.

But the one thing I've been looking for is any evidence of Bond's German connection. From what I understand, Pearson, who wrote that Bond was born in Germany, has said that the idea originated from Fleming.

I talked to Higson about it, and as you know Higson has Bond born in Switzerland. He said that using Germany as Bond's birthplace was an interesting foreshadowing of the war.



#20 pete321

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Posted 02 January 2015 - 04:40 PM

The guy serves The Queen and the country ha ha. Plus, Fettes works under the English education system, and the students take the General Certificate of Secondary Education,English system too. Is not that you became a living representation of scotish folklore in those schools.  Like me or not, Bond is pure englishman.


Edited by pete321, 02 January 2015 - 04:43 PM.


#21 Skylla

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Posted 02 January 2015 - 11:13 PM

In terms of ancestry, Bond isn't pure English. Neither am I - according to my family tree I'm a mix of English, Welsh, Cornish, and probably Scottish. An awful lot of English people have this "mixed" background.

But I was born and brought up in England, which, I suppose, makes me English. Bond was also raised an Englishman, although his education was English, Scottish (Tony Blair's old school, Fettes, after Bond was sent down from Eton) and European (if you count the time spent in Kitzbuhle, mentioned in the short story Octopussy).

 

 

^^^^^I always liked this part of Bond´s past, learning to ski in my hometown. It´s called Kitzbühel, by the way, home of the worlds most  famous and dangerous downhillrace ;) . 

 

 

 

 

Also, in Moonraker the novel, Fleming mentions in passing that some in the Blades Club might, on meeting Bond, consider that there was something "vaguely un-English" about him.

Bond is an Englishman of non-English ancestry. Which means he has something in common with many of his fellow countrymen.

(Incidentally, whilst typing this I had a look at a picture frame which has a copy of the coat of arms for my family name. The name is Welsh - but the coat of arms features three lions, a symbol usually identified with the English. Sadly it doesn't feature a motto as memorable as "Orbis Non Sufficit" smile.gif .)

(Also, as I recall, Bond's Aunt Charmian lived at "Pett Bottom" - what a name! - in Kent, not Scotland.)

 

 


Edited by Skylla, 03 January 2015 - 09:11 PM.


#22 Logie

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Posted 03 January 2015 - 01:22 AM

I'm sure I read somewhere that Bond's Scottish roots were a nod to Fleming's own background rather than Connery's. It says quite clearly that Bond was a Highland Scot (like Fleming) and not a lowlander (like Connery).

 

A couple of bits in Skyfall I found interesting; when Bond's doing that word association thing and he states 'England' as his country. And there's that line at Skyfall Manor; "I always hated this place". He doesn't sound too keen on Scotland to me.



#23 Vauxhall

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Posted 03 January 2015 - 11:45 AM

A couple of bits in Skyfall I found interesting; when Bond's doing that word association thing and he states 'England' as his country. And there's that line at Skyfall Manor; "I always hated this place". He doesn't sound too keen on Scotland to me.

Bond saying "England" always struck me as inconsistent, and mildly annoying. He works for the British Government, and was brought up in Scotland, so should have a full appreciation of the United Kingdom.

I say that as a Scot by birth, who's lived almost all my life in London.

#24 Logie

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Posted 06 January 2015 - 01:16 AM

I know what you mean; it's like all that "For England, Alec!" cobblers in Goldeneye. It's the sort of thing Jeremy Clarkson says, not Bond.






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