"Although he was born in Mayfair, [Ian] Fleming did spend his early life living in Hampstead, significantly at Pitt House, in North End, until his MP father Valentine Fleming was killed in the First World War, his mother moving in 1917 to Chelsea.
For these arcane facts you have to talk to Andrew Lycett, outstanding author of the compelling and much admired definitive biography of Fleming, first published in 1995 and now updated in paperback for Fleming’s centenary year…
Fleming in fact based [the eponymous villain in Goldfinger] on the Hungarian-born architect Erno Goldfinger, who knocked down old cottages in Willow Road, Hampstead, to the dismay of local residents to build his iconic block of flats in 1932, one of which was his home and is now owned by the National Trust as a listed national architectural treasure.
'I have read, but I have not seen any substantiating evidence, that Fleming was a member of the Hampstead Preservation Society... [Andrew] Lycett reveals. 'That led him to take such a strong stand against Erno Goldfinger’s flats at No 2 Willow Road. He certainly took against Goldfinger, but that was a more personal thing as Goldfinger was married to a cousin of a golfing friend of his….
'The real Goldfinger threatened to halt publication of the novel. Fleming’s publisher, Cape, fobbed him off, much to the anger of Fleming, who wanted Cape to insert a slip explaining what Erno had done and changing his name to Goldprick throughout.'
Lycett has many amorous stories to tell about the 6ft tall old Etonian Fleming who was such a debonair charmer.
His first love was for a Jewish girl named Lisl Jokl, who Fleming met in Austria when he was 20. The author described her as having 'sleepy blue eyes and a romantic face' and she was one of only four people to whom he left a legacy of £500 on his death.
'It was she who opened his eyes to the world and to sex,' says Lycett. 'She subsequently came to London in the 1930s and worked as a designer and as a buyer, eventually for Marks and Spencer.'"
— Gerald Isaaman, Camden New Journal
|2 Willow Road, Hampstead in 1940, via DESIGN MUSEUM|
(Photo: Sydney W. Newberry)
|2 Willow Rd, (street view)|
from: Google Maps
Goldfinger’s tower blocks have since confounded his critics by proving to be robustly built and imaginatively planned. The Champagne parties at which he listened to – and learnt from – the complaints of the residents of Balfron Tower illustrate the underlying humanism in his architecture. Today the flats in Trellick, many of which passed into private ownership during the 1990s, are greatly sought after. Yet ambitious though he was for these monumental public schemes, even Goldfinger’s admirers concur that his best buildings were his smaller, beautifully proportioned and impeccably detailed projects at Albermarle Street and Willow Road where, the modern houses which once outraged Hampstead’s conservationists now belong to the National Trust."
— DESIGN MUSEUM
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