When Ian Fleming stole the real James Bond's name from the cover (or title page) of Birds of the West Indies in early 1952, which edition was he looking at, the 1936 first edition or the 1947 second edition?
It's a subject of debate, with many Fleming experts siding with the 1947 edition. At this point, there's likely no definitive answer, just theories.
But according to the noted ornithologist himself, the copy in question was the original 1936 edition, as he recounted to Philadelphia Bulletin columnist Pete Martin in an interview published in October 1964.
Bond and his wife Mary had visited Goldeneye on Feb. 5 that year, and (sadly) Fleming had died on Aug. 12.
Bond said that Fleming had (at least) two editions of Birds of the West Indies at his home in Jamaica.
Bond also said: "When we saw [Fleming], he had by then bought the latest edition of Birds of the West Indies. "
In a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation documentary on Fleming that was filmed the day that the real James Bond visited, Fleming's copy of Birds of the West Indies from the early 1960s is shown. (See below.)
My new illustrated biography, The Real James Bond, devotes an entire chapter to the day that Bond and Fleming met, and another chapter on the many versions of Birds of the West Indies that were published over the years.
One big question regarding that day remains: Whatever happened to Fleming's 1936 edition of Birds of the West Indies?
It is not in the Lilly Library's archive of Fleming's books at Indiana University. (I checked.)
You can read about James Bond's licenses to kill here.
You can read more about the day Fleming and Bond met here.