The Original 007
Posted on: 2008-11-24 09:56:07
A Quantum of Relevance
As James Bond embarks on his 22nd film in 'The Quantum Of Solace', the question of whether or not he ever went to Cambridge remains something of a mystery.
Filmgoers can point to references in the movies which suggest Bond did indeed have a First in Oriental Languages from Cambridge, but purists may see it otherwise, since in the original novels by Ian Fleming, Bond's experience of higher education only involved a brief spell at the University of Geneva.
But whether or not Bond, like Philby, Burgess, Maclean and Blunt, belongs on the list of Cambridge spies, there may be another 007 who does.
Born in 1527, John Dee was not a notorious womanizer and pre-dated the invention of both the Martini and the fast car by several centuries. According to some, however, he was the inspiration behind Bond's three-digit code number.
Dee, who studied at St. John's College and later became one of Trinity College's founding fellows, was a great polymath and one of the most learned men of his generation.
Thanks to his extensive knowledge of science and mathematics, Elizabeth I appointed him her trusted scientific and astrological advisor, even allowing him to select her coronation date. In Dee's correspondence with the Queen, we find a mysterious signature symbol - two circles and what could be an elongated number 7.
Writing in his 1968 book "John Dee, Scientist, geographer, astrologer and secret agent to Elizabeth I", author Richard Deacon was under no illusions that Dee was indeed the original 007, even calling him "a roving James Bond of Tudor times." Now, as Bond returns to the screen, blogs and fansites are once more resurrecting the idea that Dee was the original Bond.
Supporters of the theory believe the "00" either symbolised Dee's eyes or were themselves a code meaning "For Your Eyes Only". The "7" has been interpreted as a sacred or lucky number which Dee - who was certainly fascinated by numerology and the mystical property of numbers - may have regarded as a prudent addition. Perhaps most significantly of all, Fleming knew Deacon, and may have borrowed the symbol.