‘The Real James Bond’: Exploring Montgomery County’s Unlikely Connection to Iconic Super Spy

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James Bond, the Philadelphia ornithologist, finally met Ian Fleming, the 007 author, in Jamaica in 1964.
Mary Bond via Philadelphia Free Library via Smithsonian Magazine.
James Bond, the Philadelphia ornithologist, finally met Ian Fleming, the 007 author, in Jamaica in 1964.

When author Ian Fleming was searching for a name for his spy character, he found it on the cover of a birding guide, writes Avi Wolfman-Arent for Billy Penn.

Little did Fleming or the real James Bond, a Montgomery County ornithologist, for that matter, know how famous the moniker would become.

When he was writing his first spy novel, Casino Royale, which was published in 1952, Fleming wanted his protagonist to have a simple, plain-sounding name to contrast against the colorful adventures he went on.

Fleming, an avid birder who spent much of his time in Jamaica, liked the sound of the name of the author of one of his birding guides, Birds of the West Indies, and decided to adopt it for his protagonist.

While the fictional character was off on adventures popularized in both novels and in films, the real James Bond was in Philadelphia serving as an ornithologist and eventually the curator of ornithology at the Academy of Natural Sciences.

Bond was born in Montgomery County in 1900 and grew up in Gwynedd Valley. He didn’t know about his connection to the famous international spy until fans started calling his home in 1961.

Fleming has never told Bond that he had used his name. The two did meet though once in Jamaica, not long before Fleming’s death.

Read more about the real James Bond and his Montgomery County connections in Billy Penn.

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