Ann Fleming

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Ann Fleming
Ann Geraldine Mary Fleming died 1981.jpg
Fleming in 1957
Ann Charteris

(1913-06-19)19 June 1913
Died12 July 1981(1981-07-12) (aged 68)
Known forHostess

Ann Geraldine Mary Fleming (née Charteris, 19 June 1913 – 12 July 1981), previously known as Lady O'Neill and Viscountess Rothermere, was a British socialite. She married firstly Lord O'Neill, secondly Lord Rothermere, and finally the writer Ian Fleming. She also had affairs with the Labour Party politicians Roy Jenkins and Hugh Gaitskell.


Fleming was born to Frances Lucy Tennant (1887–1925) and Captain Guy Lawrence Charteris (1886–1967) in Westminster, London on 19 June 1913. She was the eldest daughter and her grandfather was Hugo Charteris, 11th Earl of Wemyss. She learnt to value conversation and friendship from her grandmother, Mary Constance Charteris, Countess of Wemyss,[1] who had her own hedonistic past, having been one of The Souls.[2]

She was educated by governesses after an unsuccessful term at Cheltenham Ladies' College. She had a good understanding of literature but her future was to be a debutante and she quickly married Lord O'Neill who was both an aristocrat and a financier in 1932. She had two children before beginning an affair with the influential Esmond Cecil Harmsworth in 1936.[3]

Harmsworth was the heir to Lord Rothermere, who owned the Daily Mail. Her husband went to war and Ann appeared with Harmsworth as well as having an affair with Ian Fleming, then a stockbroker, who became an assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence. In 1940, Harmsworth became Lord Rothermere. Her husband was killed in action in 1944 and she married Lord Rothermere in 1945.

The couple entertained and their social circle included the painter Lucian Freud (who painted her portrait), the choreographer Frederick Ashton and the artist Francis Bacon. Meanwhile, Ian Fleming left the navy and became a journalist with The Sunday Times. He had built Goldeneye on land in Jamaica and he had demanded three-month vacations from his employer to enjoy his holiday home. The two spent three months of every year together in Jamaica;[4] her new husband thought she was in Jamaica to visit Noël Coward.

In 1951 she was divorced by Lord Rothermere, and the following year she married Fleming. They had one child, Caspar. Ann was pregnant with her son when they married; he was born on 12 August 1952. Anxiety over his forthcoming marriage is said to be the reason that Ian Fleming wrote the first James Bond novel, Casino Royale. Ann had a £100,000 divorce settlement and Fleming sought additional sources of revenue to add to his salary from The Sunday Times. The book and its sequels were immediate successes.

The Flemings bought a house in London, where they entertained. They later rebuilt Warneford Place at Sevenhampton, near Swindon, renaming it Sevenhampton Place and moving there in 1963.[5] Her husband was not keen on the socialising, but their houses attracted Evelyn Waugh, Cyril Connolly and Peter Quennell, and she had affairs with Hugh Gaitskell[4] and Roy Jenkins.[6]

Her son Caspar died in London in October 1975 from an overdose of narcotics.[citation needed] Ann Fleming died at Sevenhampton Place on 12 July 1981.[3] Both were buried alongside Ian at the church of St James in Sevenhampton.


  1. ^ Anne Fleming, Spartacus, Retrieved 5 February 2017
  2. ^ Jane Ridley, Clayre Percy, "Charteris , Mary Constance, Countess of Wemyss (1862–1937)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edition, October 2005 accessed 9 Feb 2017
  3. ^ a b Andrew Lycett, "Fleming , Ann Geraldine Mary [other married names Ann Geraldine Mary O'Neill, Lady O'Neill; Ann Geraldine Mary Harmsworth, Viscountess Rothermere] (1913–1981)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edition, May 2014 accessed 9 February 2017
  4. ^ a b Andrew Lycett, "Fleming, Ian Lancaster (1908–1964)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edition, October 2008 accessed 9 February 2017
  5. ^ Fitzgerald, Ben (28 May 2008). "Celebrating the life of the man from 00-Sevenhampton". Swindon Advertiser. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  6. ^ Andrew Marr (3 July 2009). A History of Modern Britain. Pan Macmillan. pp. 272–. ISBN 978-0-330-51329-6.