“Krystyna Skarbek was a Polish Special Operations Executive (SOE) agent. She became celebrated especially for her daring exploits in intelligence and sabotage missions to Nazi-occupied Poland and France.
She became a British agent months before the SOE was founded in July 1940 and was one of the longest-serving of all Britain’s wartime women agents. Her resourcefulness and success have been credited with influencing the sabotage organization’s policy of recruiting increasing numbers of women.
In 1941 she began using the nom de guerre Christine Granville, which she legally adopted after the war.
A friend of Ian Fleming, Skarbek is said to have been the inspiration for Bond girls Tatiana Romanova and Vesper Lynd.
Skarbek became a legend in her lifetime. Soon after her death, she entered the realm of popular culture. It has been said that Ian Fleming, in his first James Bond novel, Casino Royale (1953), modeled Vesper Lynd on her. According to William F. Nolan, Fleming also based Tatiana Romanova, in his 1957 novel From Russia, with Love, on Skarbek.
After the war, Skarbek was left without financial reserves or a native country to return to. Xan Fielding, whom she had saved at Digne, wrote in his 1954 book, Hide and Seek, and dedicated “To the memory of Christine Granville”:
“After the physical hardship and mental strain she had suffered for six years in our service, she needed, probably more than any other agent we had employed, security for life. […] Yet a few weeks after the armistice she was dismissed with a month’s salary and left in Cairo to fend for herself … [Alt]hough she was too proud to ask for any other assistance, she did apply for […] a British passport; for ever since the Anglo-American betrayal of her country at Yalta she had been virtually stateless. But the naturalization papers […] were delayed in the normal bureaucratic manner.
Meanwhile, abandoning all hope of security, she deliberately embarked on a life of uncertain travel, as though anxious to reproduce in peace time the hazards she had known during the war; until, finally, in June 1952, in the lobby of a cheap London hotel, the menial existence to which she had been reduced by penury was ended by an assassin’s knife.
In that latter period of her life, she met Ian Fleming, with whom she allegedly had a year-long affair, although there is no proof that this affair occurred. The man who made the allegation, Donald McCormick, relied on the word of a woman named “Olga Bialoguski”; McCormick always refused to identify her, and she is not included in his list of acknowledgments.” SOURCE: WikiPedia