Sunday, 4 January 2015

The Name's Bond...

James Bond was born on this day in 1900. No, not that James Bond, but the one who wrote the definitive guide to Birds Of The West Indies (first published 1936).
 Bond was born in Philadelphia but moved to England with his father in 1914, studying at Harrow and Trinity College Cambridge, where he was the sole American member of that almost risibly exclusive institution the Pitt Club (though the late David Frost was somehow a member, not to mention large-lipped actor Eddie Redmayne). Returning to America, James Bond spent three years in banking before his lifelong interest in natural history got the better of him and he signed up for an expedition to the Amazon. He never banked again, but became an ornithologist at Philadelphia's Academy of Natural Sciences, where he rose to become curator of ornithology. 

 Ian Fleming, being, among other things (most of them covered under the term all-round shit), a keen birdwatcher resident on Jamaica, was naturally familiar with Bond's Birds Of The West Indies, and borrowed its author's name for his hero. As he explained to Bond's wife, 'It struck me that this brief, unromantic, Anglo-Saxon and yet very masculine name was just what I needed, and so a second James Bond was born... In return, I can only offer you or James Bond unlimited use of the name Ian Fleming for any purposes you may think fit. Perhaps one day your husband will discover a particularly horrible species of bird which he would like to christen in an insulting fashion by calling it Ian Fleming.' Unfortunately no such opportunity arose.


  1. "Hello. I'm calling to complain about the Academy's ornithological collection, which my grade three class found confusing and boring. You really should be making your exhibits more accessible to schoolchildren, Mr....ah"

    "My name's Bond......James Bond".