My Talk at the Academy of Natural Sciences
My Smithsonian Article on the Real Bond

Ian Fleming and the 1936 'Birds of the West Indies'

BOTWI 1936 and 1947 covers
In April, I published a post about which edition of Birds of the West Indies Ian Fleming was looking at when he took the real James Bond's name from the cover (or title page).

Was it the 1936 first edition or the 1947 second edition?Bond quote ofn Fleming's 1936 edition

I found an interview that the real Bond did just after meeting with Fleming at Goldeneye, in which Bond says that Fleming "had the first edition -- the one that came out in 1936."

Bond also said: "When we saw [Fleming], he had by then bought the latest edition of Birds of the West Indies.

My post was met with a bit of skepticism by some Fleming experts, who believe that Fleming's copy was the second edition.

The first edition (above, left), with its striking white cover, is iconic. The second edition (above, right) is also rare but, well, the second edition.

On the day that Bond and Fleming met, Fleming gave the ornithologist a copy of You Only Live Twice, inscribed: "To the Real James Bond, from the thief of his identity...."

When that copy later came up for auction, included the same lot was a dust jacket from the 1936 Birds of the West Indies.

I treasure my copies of both, but which do you think is more valuable and harder to find?

A signed copy of the second edition sold last November for $4,000 at auction. I have never seen a signed first edition for sale.

You can read the original post here.


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