My father’s side, the Flemings of Dundee, proved more resilient. They also suffered in World War I, but when my grandfather was killed in 1917, his young widow, Eve, showed herself both tough and determined. She was left with four boys (the “shiny boys” as Augustus John called them). In 1926 she gave birth to a daughter, Amaryllis, fathered by Augustus John. The youngest son, Michael, was killed in World War II. The three other boys and Amaryllis were each remarkable in their own way.
Here are those boys, photographed on the same day in 1942, when they happened to be on leave simultaneously.
© 2014 James Fleming -
My parents had nine children: six boys and three girls. I was born in 1944 – number four, behind Daniel, who died in infancy, and two sisters.
My schooling was commenced by Miss Malins, a governess we shared with neighbours. She wielded power via a blue, oval crayon which she would jab into our ribs if ever we faltered over, for instance over the subjunctive of pouvoir. As a result we never did falter. By the time I went to boarding school at the age of eight, I was ahead of the game. And since the education I received at Abberley was excellent , I remained ahead of it. However (which as Thomas Gage observed is one of the most ominous words in English), things went downhill thereafter. All that need be said is that after getting a second in Modern History at Oxford, I signed up as an articled clerk in a firm of accountants at a salary of ￡600 per annum.
It is to this period of my life that I in fact owe a great debt, arising from the fact that one of the firms over whose accounts my eye would wearily slide employed a venerable Glaswegian book-
I abandoned accountancy as soon as I passed the exams and in my early thirties started a one-
The short history of these years says only that twenty-
“Fleming has produced a novel of quite exhilarating brilliance...”
(David Robson in The Sunday Telegraph)
There is a substantial body of literature on these Flemings.
James Fleming’s photograph by Francesco Cincotta
“One detects the hand of a master” The Sunday Telegraph