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October 2021

September 2021

Bond's Uncle: Bird Artist Extraordinaire

My latest column for The Record and other USA Today newspapers in New Jersey is about the bird prints of Carroll Tyson, often called the Audubon of Maine.

A century ago, Tyson painted dozens of watercolors that ultimately became a set of 20 fine arts lithographs, including the redstart print above.

You can read the column here (hopefully you'll find it thought-provoking):

Continue reading "Bond's Uncle: Bird Artist Extraordinaire" »

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.

My Talk at the Academy of Natural Sciences

Screen Shot 2021-09-24 at 2.59.56 PM
On Saturday, Oct. 9, at 2:30 p.m., I will present a free live and Zoom talk from the  Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, where the real James Bond worked for many decades.

I'll display a few of Bond's birds from the Caribbean and talk about Bond, Ian Fleming and Birds of the West Indies.

You can find out more information about the event and register here.

Incidentally, if you are in Philly that weekend, you can attend the talk free with admission to this terrific museum. My talk will be followed by a Q-and-A and a book signing.

It's all part of the festivities to celebrate the long-awaited arrival of Bond's namesake's 25th 007 movie that same weekend.


My New Article: The Origin of '007'

007 bus line
"007" is one of the most-recognizable numbers in the world, and central to the  James Bond mystique.

"Casino Royale," the first of Daniel Craig's James Bond movie, even begins with a scene explaining how an agent achieves the vaunted "double-O" status.

But how did Ian Fleming come up with  "007" and that "double-O" status in the first place?

Lashana lynch 007
MGM/Universal Pictures/EON

Some Fleming enthusiasts insist the world’s most-famous code number was inspired by 16th-Century English explorer/spy John Dee.

Others point to the 007 British bus line, or a 1897 Rudyard Kipling story about an American locomotive entitled “.007,” a World War I code, or part of the telephone number of Ian Fleming’s first literary agent.

There’s just one trouble with these theories. They’re balderdash.

Now, in advance of Craig's fifth and likely final James Bond movie, my new  article for spills all the beans.

You can read it here.

Above: The beginning of ".007," a short story by Rudyard Kipling in Collier's magazine; the legendary John Dee, and an editorial cartoon about the Zimmerman code.