“A world writer”

John Linklater, Sunday Herald

“Nicholas Shakespeare is one of those writers who can do anything”

Peter Craven, Sydney Morning Herald

“One of our best and truest novelists”

The Times

“Enviably good”

Louis de Bernieres, Sunday Times

“One of the best English novelists of our time”

Allan Massie, Wall Street Journal

“The best evocation of Oxford since Brideshead

Allan Massie

Nicholas Shakespeare’s new life of Ian Fleming, the first authorised biography of James Bond’s author since 1966, will be published on 5 October, 2023.

Ian Fleming’s greatest creation, James Bond, has had an enormous and ongoing impact on our culture. What Bond represents about ideas of masculinity, the British national psyche and global politics has shifted over time, as has the interpretation of the life of his author. But Fleming himself was more mysterious and subtle than anything he wrote.

lan’s childhood with his gifted brother Peter and his extraordinary mother set the pattern for his ambition to be ‘the Complete Man’, and he would strive for the means to achieve this ‘completeness’ all his life.

Only a thriller writer for his last twelve years, his dramatic personal life and impressive career in Naval Intelligence put him at the heart of critical moments in world history, while also providing rich inspiration for his fiction. Exceptionally well connected, and widely travelled, from the United States and Soviet Russia to his beloved Jamaica, lan had access to the most powerful political figures at a time of profound change.

Nicholas Shakespeare is one of the most gifted biographers working today. His talent for uncovering material that casts new light on his subjects is fully evident in this masterful, definitive biography.

His unprecedented access to the Fleming family papers and his nose for a story make this a fresh and eye-opening picture of a man whose life was overshadowed by his famous creation.


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“Written with Fleming-esque brio and insouciance, with a feeling for the tragic aspects of his life as well as the ironic comedy of it… The amount of new testimony Shakespeare has truffled up about a man nearly 60 years dead is dizzying. The research is impeccable… Shakespeare is an elegant writer… a book so buoyant and delicious that you feel it will be a friend for life.”
Jake Kerridge, Daily Telegraph

“What a masterful and definitive study this is, enhanced by a novelist’s skill in making it so eminently readable and page-turning. I learned a great deal that I did not know. It is compulsively absorbing.”

David Stafford, author of Camp X, Churchill and Secret Service and Roosevelt and Churchill.

“This is a marvellous book about Ian Fleming, but it’s also one of the most engaging portraits of a particular period of British history that I have read in a long time.”

Antonia Fraser
“Nicholas Shakespeare has the rare ability to reinvigorate subjects that had seemed exhausted. If, like me, you thought you knew all there was to be known about Ian Fleming, prepare for a surprise: the creator of James Bond turns out to be more interesting and less unpleasant than we had thought him to be. Shakespeare’s life of Bruce Chatwin showed him to be a very fine biographer, as well as a much-admired novelist; his life of Ian Fleming is equally compelling. Though a long book, it is written with such brio that the pace never slackens – much like a Bond, one might say.”
Adam Sisman

“Nicholas Shakespeare, who wrote the definitive study of Bruce Chatwin, has compiled a monumental record of Fleming’s life. The completeness of the book is beyond doubt. Shakespeare leaves no future biographer much to discover. Fleming’s place in history is assured.”

Max Hastings, Sunday Times

“This biography would have pleased Ian Fleming. It is a sustained and engrossing homage to the Olympic icon of a beleaguered Britain, and a writer damned to fame. With scarcely a dull page, it’s a chip off the old block… a superb analysis.”

Robert McCrum, Independent

“Shakespeare tells the story much more thoroughly than has previously been possible. This excellent biography is as worldly and clever as one could wish… The author is also wonderfully adept at describing Ian’s disparate worlds of journalism, literature, espionage and physical danger.”

Philip Hensher, The Spectator

“An elegant and painstakingly researched biography.”

The Observer

“This highly accomplished and readable biography will please many readers.”

Lyndall Gordon, New Statesman

“A must-read.”

Evening Standard

Nicholas Shakespeare


Nicholas Shakespeare is the author of seven novels, including The Vision of Elena Silves (winner of the Somerset Maugham Award and Betty Trask Award); The High Flyer, for which he was selected as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists, 1993; and The Dancer Upstairs, which was chosen as the Best Novel of 1997 by the American Libraries Association, and in 2001 made into a film by John Malkovich.

His non-fiction includes the critically acclaimed authorized biography of Bruce Chatwin; In Tasmania, winner of the 2007 Tasmania Book Prize; Priscilla: The Hidden Life of an Englishwoman in Wartime France; and Six Minutes in May: How Churchill Unexpectedly Became Prime Minister. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Ian Fleming – The Complete Man

Nicholas Shakespeare’s new book

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Recent Works

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