Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Fleming Tied The Matrimonial Knot….Day 83 of Bond 365

Ian Fleming and Anne Geraldine Mary Charteris
Married this day in 1952

Anne Geraldine Mary Charteris, 1937
They met in the mid 1930s Europe. Anne Geraldine Mary Charteris was from a wealthy aristocratic family (granddaughter of the 11th Lord Wemyss) and was married at the time to Shane O’Neill, 3rd Baron O’Neill. Ian Fleming was known for being a charmer and routinely engaged in love affairs. Their attraction was immediate and enduring.

In 1944, O’Neill was killed in Italy serving as a British Army officer. It was the perfect opportunity for Fleming and Charteris to marry. It appears that Fleming was not ready to make a marriage commitment so Charteris married Esmond Harmsworth, the 2nd Viscount Rothermere, who she had been having an affair with as well. The second marriage did not diminish the fact that the pair still had passionate feelings for each other. Interestingly, Fleming was not monogamous to Charteris; he continued his womanizing ways. And, Charteris continued to have her other extramarital affairs beyond Fleming.

The Flemings, 1962

The Viscount seemed to be tolerant of Fleming and he was often a participant of the various societal parties and outings with the Rothermeres. However, in reading Matthew Parker’s Goldeneye: Where Bond was Born: Ian Fleming’s Jamaica, it seems that when Charteris went to visit Fleming in Jamaica in 1948, which resulted in a pregnancy, it was probably the long spiral to the breakdown of the marriage.

After Charteris’ yearly visit to Jamaica to be with Fleming, upon her return to London in 1951, her husband gave her a choice to end her relationship with Fleming or get a divorce. They divorced.

At this point, the time was right enough and Fleming and Charteris married in 1952 as soon as her divorce was final. She was pregnant again and in August, their son Caspar was born. In Parker’s book and in some of the articles I have been reading online, Fleming and Charteris had a sadomasochistic relationship that swung between violence and desire. After the marriage, it appears that they were quite opposite: she was very outgoing and social, he was more moody and a loner. As they settled into married life, Fleming’s health was beginning to deteriorate, which probably added strain to their relationship. Unfortunately, it sounds as though the fireworks of attraction fizzled and faded into an unhappy existence. 

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