Spy Lore: Man with The Golden Gun

They seem unlikely bedfellows: an international spy known for his way with the ladies, and a museum dedicated to Britain's military campaigns. But London's Imperial War Museum pulls off the pairing with its latest exhibition, "For Your Eyes Only," which traces the parallels between writer and World War II intelligence recruit Ian Fleming and his most famous creation, James Bond.

Like 007, Fleming swirled in suave circles. Born 100 years ago in London's posh Mayfair, his father was a Parliament member and his grandfather founded the Scottish American Investment Trust. Educated at Eton and Sandhurst, Britain's military academy, Fleming went on to work as a journalist for the Times of London, where he gained a reputation of being intrepid (he once lobbied, unsuccessfully, to interview Stalin). When war broke out, the head of British naval intelligence—who later inspired the character "M"—recruited Fleming, giving the young man a bird's-eye view into the clandestine operations that would later inform his novels.

The exhibit details Fleming's immersion in the worlds of espionage and literary glamour, from his letters to the head of the U.S. Army's Office of Strategic Services (precursor to the CIA), to photos of a social circle that included Noel Coward and Evelyn Waugh. Also among the curios: designs for Bond's Lotus Esprit, Goldfinger's golden gun and a toy James Bond Aston Martin car, on loan from the queen, which Prince Andrew received for his sixth birthday in 1966.