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April 2020

Read Bond's 1936 'Birds of the West Indies' Online

Bond. BOTWI Cover 1936 7.5 in

The first edition of Bond's "Birds of the West Indies" (1936) was where Ian Fleming got 007's name, according to the real James Bond himself.

You can read it online here. (That's the Cuban Tody on the cover, above.)

The original "Birds of the West Indies," by Charles B. Cory (1889), is also online.

A digitized copy from William Brewster's library is here.


Fleming's Copy of 'Birds of the West Indies'

Bond. BOTWI Cover 1936 7.5 in (1)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. 

First, Bond said that Fleming "had the first edition -- the one that Bond quote ofn Fleming's 1936 editioncame out in 1936." [Pictured here].

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.

CBC BotWI Fleming interview


How to Order a Copy in the U.K.

RealJamesBond_CVR(1) (3)What with the COVID-19 mess and all, many of the online booksellers are out of stock of "The Real James Bond."

If you are ordering in Europe, you can order a book directly from the distributor,  Gazelle, here . They are temporarily out of stock as well, so best to place your order now.

Thanks. Email me if you any questions or comments!


A Wish for Earth Day 2020

Barred Owl Jim Wright (2)I write "The Bird Watcher" column for The Record in northern New Jersey, and the first time I wrote about the real James Bond was for one of these columns back in 2015.

With the 50th anniversary of Earth Day less than a week away, I wrote today's column about an old friend, Stiles Thomas, who has the same mind-set that Bond had when it comes to protecting the environment.

This conservation ethic says that to save the planet, we need to get serious about protecting it and nurturing it so that it will still thrive not just next week or next year but decades from now.

This philosophy applies on all levels, from our towns to our regions to our nations -- from Bond's Caribbean and Thomas' United States to the Earth itself.

I am thankful for all the environmental groups that share and implement that philosophy.

You can download the column here:

Download JWright BirdWatcher TheRecord-20200416-LF03-0


Where to Buy 'The Real James Bond'

RealJamesBond_CVR(1) (3)A few folks have emailed me of late, noting that many of the online booksellers have been out of stock of "The Real James Bond."

They wanted to know where to buy the book online.

My suggestion:  from the publisher, Schiffer. You can learn more here. (shipping is reduced if you order more than one.)

If you are ordering in Europe, try here . They are temporarily out of stock as well, so place your order now.

Thanks. And email me if you any questions or comments!


A Nice Write-up in The New Criterion

  New Criterion best Screen Shot 2020-04-11 at 7.16.27 AM
"The Real James Bond" received a nice write-up in The New Criterion online this week, topped off with a marvelous layout and image from the 0riginal 1936 "Birds of the West Indies."

You can read it here.

Truth be told, I did not know one of the words in the write-up's first sentence. I didn't even know how to pronounce it.


The Real James Bond's Aston Martin

A little known fact: the real James Bond owned an Aston Martin DB5 -- complete with an ejector seat.

Made by Corgi, the metal toy car is part of the Free Library of Philadelphia's Mary Wickham Bond (aka Mrs. James Bond) collection and it is occasionally on display.  It would have been on display for my free talk -- now postponed.

The library also has a photo of the real James Bond and a real 007-style Aston Martin, in Pennsylvania is 1965. (Note the license plate.)

Back then, Bond tolerated the 007 connection but grew increasingly annoyed over time.

In the early 1950s, Bond was said to drive around Mount Desert Island in a red sports car.

1-DSCN9881


James Bond's Licenses to Kill: Part 2

3a-1 jamaica poster Screen Shot 2018-01-06 at 9.22.53 AM (2) James Bond's most-effective license to kill was the one he bluffed about.

Getting a permit to carry a firearm to collect birds on Caribbean Islands sometimes took up to a week.

In one instance, it took an entire year and forced Bond to go undercover -- as a tourist -- to outwit an officious bureaucrat. The fate of Birds of the West Indies hung in the balance.

You can read the full story in my book. :- )


'Real James Bond' & Cape May Spring Festival

Screen Shot 2020-04-08 at 6.10.18 PM
Although most of my "Real James Bond" talks this spring have been postponed, NJ Audubon has announced it is trying something completely different for its annual Spring Birding festival  (where I am the Friday keynote speaker):

With the continuing COVID-19crisis, we must take the precautionary step of eliminating the Festival’s in-person format. We are actively developing our first-ever virtual birding festival.

We are truly excited to transport the splendor of spring migration in Cape May right into your own home in a virtual format.  We will let you know more details shortly.

Spring Festival is one of New Jersey Audubon’s signature events, a longstanding tradition among birders and nature enthusiasts for more than four decades.  This year, our virtual Spring Festival will continue to offer an opportunity to personally connect with New Jersey Audubon’s experts, leaders and presenters.

I will post a link to registration when it's ready.