James Bond, Marine Biologist

Octopussy dust jacket ChoppingWhen ornithologist Jim Bond went on expeditions to the West Indies for the Academy of Natural Sciences in the 1920s and early 1930s, he collected many species of fish.  Several of those species later turned up in an Ian Fleming fleming.

Bond even collected a relative of the scorpionfish that graces the cover of the first edition of Octopussy and the Living Daylights.

With the help of two current Academy of Natural Science naturalists -- Mark Sabaj Perez and Paul Callomon, I was able to unlock the secrets of that dustjacket for an article I wrote for literary007.com.

To the casual observer, the items on the cover are a fish and a conch shell. To the trained eye, they are so much more.

You can read my article here.

A big thank you to everyone at the Academy of Natural Sciences (now affiliated with Drexel University) for their help with the article -- and especially my book about Bond.

It was exactly one year ago today that the Academy hosted the big launch event for The Real James Bond -- just before the world went into COVID-19 lockdown.

Here's to better days ahead.

P.S. I am told that in my article, I erroneously described an octopus' appendages as tentacles. They are called arms.  In my defense, Ian Fleming called them tentacles as well,  so I am in good company.

Happy Birthday, Orlando Garrido!

One of the highlights of my trip to Cuba in 2016 was meeting the great ornithologist Orlando Garrido.

I met him as part of a group of birders who visited  Cuba with the Caribbean Conservation Trust.

The biggest reason for my trip was to meet (and later interview) Orlando for my book about ornithologist James Bond of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. 

Continue reading "Happy Birthday, Orlando Garrido!" »

Fleming, Bond, Butterflies & Fish

Screen Shot 2021-02-27 at 8.14.23 AM
I recently discovered another similarity between ornithologist James Bond and his fictional namesake, 007.

They both posed as marine biologists.Octopussy dust jacket Chopping

You can read all about it -- and much more -- on the Artistic License Renewed website (literary007.com). 

The website, a must for all Ian Fleming fans, has posted my article about 007 dust-jacket illustrator Richard Chipping and the dust jackets for Octopussy and the Living Daylights.

I love everything about it -- from all the illustrations they used for the article to the title: "Richard Chopping and the Butterfly Effect."

It turns out that two other Octopussy and the Living Daylights covers have an ornithologist/spy connection as well.

You can read it here.

Footnote: Although I mention octopus tentacles in my article -- as Fleming did in his short story -- I am told on good authority that octopuses don't have tentacles. They have arms. Duly noted.





When James Bond Saw 'Dr. No'

Screen Shot 2021-02-24 at 9.08.39 AM (1)The real James Bond always claimed that he did not like Ian Fleming's 007 novels, and even told the thriller writer so when they met in 1964. 

It turns out, however, that Bond and his wife Mary saw at least one 007 movie, "Dr. No," on a cruise on the S.S. Rotterdam in August 1963. 

In her diary, Mary Bond wrote (spoiler alert!): "Ian Fleming's 'Dr. No.' shown yesterday. We went at 3:30 and thoroughly enjoyed it, but too many girls, and they spoiled it by changing Dr. No's demise to a lot of modern mechanical nonsense..."

Mary Bond must have read the book, even if Bond claimed he didn't.

I wonder how Bond introduced himself onboard...

Footnote: Jim and Mary Bond met Fleming at Goldeneye less than six months later.



Straight Talk on How 007 Got His Name

Raja's Emerald RJB
It seems like every month or so, another news report claims to come across another "real James Bond"  -- either the inspiration for James Bond or the source of the fictional character's name.

I'm sure Fleming drew on several people for his fictional character, but when it comes to the name itself, anyone who says that it was anyone other than the ornithologist from Philadelphia's Academy of Natural Sciences is off the mark.

My favorite theory, which was based on speculation, is that Fleming read an Agatha Christie short story called "The Raja's Emerald," noted the name of the main character, and simply appropriated it.

It's doubtful that Fleming You Only LIve Twice Fleming inscription 643would use the name of a protagonist from another work of fiction. It's far more likely that this is just one of life's coincidences, especially considering that...

In researching The Real James Bond, I came across several accounts, in Fleming's own words, of how he chose "James Bond" for 007's name.

All of them are quite similar in general and quite specific in one regard. Fleming says he got the name from the cover of "Birds of the West Indies."   The author, James Bond.

What's more, when the real Bond visited Fleming at Goldeneye in 1964, 007's creator gave him a copy of You Only Live Twice and inscribed it "To the real James Bond, from the thief of his identity."

Not long after that visit, the real Bond told a newspaper interviewer Fleming used the 1936 first edition for his inspiration.

Reports that Fleming used the later 1947 edition, on the other hand,  are based purely on supposition.


The Real James Bond at the AMNH

Screen Shot 2021-02-11 at 3.28.04 PMIn my Zoom talk for the Linnaean Society earlier this week, I noted that the ornithologist James Bond also spoke to the group  -- at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC on April 11, 1944.

Turns out that Bond visited spoke at the AMNH earlier -- I just didn't know the date. ThanScreen Shot 2021-02-11 at 3.28.34 PMks to a newspapers.com search yesterday, I think I found the answer...

Early into my research for the book, I came across a clipping in a scrapbook  (in the James and Mary Bond archive at the Free Library of Philadelphia, as I recall) that reported on a Bond talk at the American Museum of Natural History.

I loved the sepia-toned clipping because it shows that Bond was a conservationist way back in the 1930s.

The clipping was marked with "NY Times" and "1936?"

I now believe it was neither. I think it may have been from the Philadelphia Bulletin, though I can't say for sure.

In my recent newspapers.com search, I came across an article Screen Shot 2021-02-11 at 4.03.11 PMin the Des Moines Register from Nov. 26, 1933.

The article was about a gathering of 400 ornithologists at the AMNH for the Golden Jubilee of the American Ornithologists' Union.

And there was a paragraph about "Dr." James Bond lashing out against collectors and so-called scientists for killing so many birds.

The same pitch at the same place, with the same misidentification of Bond as a doctor of ornithology.

By the way, Bond has been criticized by some ornithologists for not collecting enough samples of various species for research.

Thank You, Linnaean Society!

A big thank you to the Linnaean Society for hosting my talk about the real James Bond, a spy or two, and three birds he collected for the American Museum of Natural History.

The Linnaean Society recorded the talk -- which featured a discussion with BirdsCaribbean's Joseph Wunderle about West Indies conservation. You can click on the YouTube video of the talk above.

To order a signed copy of my book, The Real James Bond, email me here.

Proceeds from these sales will go to BirdsCaribbean in honor of the real James Bond.

Order a Signed and Inscribed Copy

RealJamesBond_CVR(1)In conjunction with my Zoom talk for the Linnaean Society, I am offering signed copies of my book by mail in the U.S. for $30, including postage and handling.  All net proceeds will go to BirdsCaribbean in honor of the real James Bond.

Contact me at wrightjamesb (at) gmail.com to get more information, including how to pay easily via PayPal  (or by check if you'd prefer -- it'll just take a bit longer to send you the book).

The book also makes a great gift for a birder or 007 fan in your life.

Tuesday: My Linnaean Society Talk

Tody on BITWI cover
Don't miss my free Zoom talk for the Linnaean Society of New York City on Tuesday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m.

The talk will feature three rare birds that the real James Bond collected for science in the West Indies (including one now feared extinct) and an ornithologist/spy or two,Linnaean talk 020921 notably the American Museum of Natural History's James Chapin.

After the talk, I'll chat with Dr. Joseph Wunderle of BirdsCaribbean, who has some amazing stories to tell.

(He once had lunch with Bond, and it changed his life.)

The details on how to register are here.

More about BirdsCaribbean here.

(That's the Cuban Tody from the cover of the 1936 Birds of the Indies above.)

Book-Cover Feather I.D.s

How 007 Got His Name
On Monday I asked:

In advance of my free Zoom talk next week (Feb. 9 at 7 p.m.) for the Linnaean Society, can you identify the feathers on this rare book by Mary Wickham Bond?

Hint: Her husband, the real James Bond, probably wasn't pleased.

The answer: According to world-renowned feather expert Pepper Trail:

The feathers on the James Bond book are fanciful. Perhaps from unknown species in Goldfinger's diabolical aviary, but not from birds known to science.

You can learn more about my talk and register here.

My special guest is noted ornithologist Joseph Wunderle of BirdsCaribbean.