James Bond – Bird Lover

Day 242 of Colourisation Project – January 4

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

You’re looking at James Bond. No, not the ‘shaken, not stirred‘ variety. The real James Bond. The other bird lover. James Bond, the ornithologist.

James Bond 1974 – Coloured by Loredana Crupi

Born this day, January 4, 1900 James Bond was a leading American ornithologist, specialising on the birds of the Caribbean. His name was appropriated by writer Ian Fleming for his fictional spy, James Bond.

This James Bond wrote the definitive field guide on the subject: Birds of the West Indies, first published in 1936.

Ian Fleming, was a keen bird watcher himself, living in Jamaica, and familiar with Bond’s field guide. Fleming chose the name of its author for his iconic hero codenamed 007, for his first spy novel, Casino Royale in 1953, because he wanted a name that sounded “as ordinary as possible.”

In a letter to Bond’s wife, Fleming wrote,

“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…I wanted the simplest, dullest, plainest-sounding name I could find, ‘James Bond’ was much better than something more interesting, like ‘Peregrine Carruthers’.

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.”

In 1964, Fleming gave Bond a first edition copy of You Only Live Twice signed, “To the real James Bond, from the thief of his identity”. In December 2008 the book was put up for auction, eventually fetching $84,000 (£56,000).

Bond’s 1936 book is still in print and is still the only definitive bird identification book covering all the birds of the West Indies.

James Bond died in Philadelphia at age 89


“One of the bibles of my youth was ‘Birds of the West Indies,’ by James Bond, a well-known ornithologist, and when I was casting about for a name for my protagonist I thought, ‘My God, that’s the dullest name I’ve ever heard,’ so I appropriated it. Now the dullest name in the world has become an exciting one.”    Ian Fleming

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