by Lou Varricchio
Republished from the February 19 Sun.
When most of us think of fictional master British spy James “007” Bond, we might imagine the sun-drenched Riviera coast, nasty Karate-chopping villains, or strong female characters played by the likes of actresses Ursula Andress and Honor Blackman. What we probably don’t think about when imagining Mr. Bond is either Vermont’s Echo Lake or New York’s Lake George. Well, it’s time to rethink Secret Agent 007’s fictional espionage playground.
The published 007 stories, by British author Ian Fleming, not unlike the loosely adapted big-screen versions, were jaunty Cold War spy tales set in exotic locales. Bond’s creator insisted on realism in his stories since he, too, was a spy—well, a former spy. Fleming had served as a Royal Navy secret agent during World War II.
Here’s some trivia already known by local, hardcore James Bond fans: Ian Fleming set two of his 007 espionage novels in our own backyard.
In 1960’s “For Your Eyes Only”, Bond visits Vermont on an unofficial assignment for his spy boss “M”.
In 1962’s “The Spy Who Loved Me”, Bond falls for a woman managing a mid-century Adirondack motel along Route 9N, located just north of Lake George Village, New York.
In “For Your Eyes Only”, Fleming has Bond visit a heavily guarded estate of a villain overlooking Echo Lake near Plymouth, Vermont.
In “The Spy Who Loved Me”, the author follows his spy on a romantic adventure set at the fictional Dreamy Pines Motor Court at Lake George.
Freelance writer Beth Schaeffer, a first-rate James Bond fan, reported that author Ian Fleming spent several weeks motoring, via Montreal, through upstate New York and Vermont; he was inspired by what he saw.
It appears that Fleming was on his way to visit friend and fellow author Roald Dahl, along with Dahl’s wife actress Patricia Neal, staying at a farmhouse situated on the New York-Vermont line near Bennington. The rest, as they say, is (literary) history.
For all the exotic international locales visited by Secret Agent 007—from jaunty Nassau to seedy Istanbul—it’s kind of nice to recall that the creator of the world’s greatest literary and movie spy found New York’s North Country and Vermont’s Green Mountain lake country worthy of Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Sources: “Ian Fleming: The Man Behind James Bond” by Andrew Lycett (1996); websites Ian Fleming.com, Roald Dahl.com, and 007museum.com.