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How Did Ian Fleming Come Up with the Name “James Bond”?

The James Bond series of novels and short stories were created by the British author Ian Flemming. It was first published in 1953 and eventually turned into a massive movie franchise. But did you ever wonder how Fleming came up with the name James Bond

Ian Flemming, the author of the famous James Bond novels, initially intended for the character to be extremely dull. He wanted a straightforward and mysterious name to match the character and thought “James Bond” sounded trustworthy.

What Inspired James Bond’s Name?

James Bond, the international man of mystery, created the great author Ian Fleming. Bond’s first introduction to the public was in Flemming’s 1953 thriller novel Casino Royale. The character was depicted as a spy trained in intelligence and special forces. He portrayed the ultimate masculine icon who was a notorious womanizer and had a penchant for his vodka martini. (Source: Britannica)

Fleming started writing Casino Royale in January 1952 at his Caribbean home, signaling the start of a series of 13 novels and several film adaptations that earned millions in revenue and millions of fans. Fleming, who was known to have many hobbies and interests, was also into birdwatching.

Fleming kept a copy of the 1936 book Birds of the West Indies. It was a trusted and known field guide for birdwatchers. The book was authored by a Philadelphia native ornithologist, James Bond. As Fleming wanted his character’s name to be mysterious but sounded trustworthy and straightforward, he adopted the ornithologist’s name. He made it the best international spy we know of today. (Source: History Extra)

Due to the novels’ success, Fleming was visited by the real James Bond and his wife, Mary W. Bond, in the early sixties. Fleming, who extended an invitation to the couple to his Goldeneye home. The couple agreed, and they had lunch together. At the end of their visit, Fleming handed Bond an advanced copy of his upcoming novel, You Only Live Twice. The copy had Fleming’s inscription – To the Real James Bond, from the thief of his identity. (Source: Philly Voice)

What Are the Similarities Between the Two Bonds? 

Besides the name, the real Bond and Fleming’s character had almost no similarities save for a few. The real Bond was a gentleman, was often dressed in tweeds, and was educated in England. It was also known that he almost looked the part of Sean Connery, the first James Bond on the big screen.

Bond, who was always traveling to the Carribeans for birdwatching, also used to carry shotguns and pistols. When the novel was popularized, customs officers would often do a double-take on his passport and his guns, would laugh, and just let him through.

Despite the popularity he received because of Fleming’s novels, Bond was known to shy away from the topic usually. Bond would switch the topic back to birds whenever it was brought up. It was also known that he was embarrassed by the fanfare and the attention he received due to the novels. Bond also particularly did not want to be seen as a womanizer, as the fictional Bond was. (Source: Philly Voice)

James Charles Bond

In recent years, BBC reported that Fleming might have been inspired by the James Bond name from a different, real-life James Bond. It was discovered that there was a James Charles Bond. This other Bond was reported to be a member of the Elite Special Operations Executive (SOE).

James Charles Bond was reported to have worked on elite missions under former Naval commander Fleming during the second world war and before Fleming became an actor. Though this claim could not be verified, the elite SOE Bond was known to have been a spy behind enemy lines and was part of Fleming’s elite team then. (Source: BBC)

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