Bond, Mary Wickham

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James Bond (1900-1989) was a leading American ornithologist. He was born on January 4, 1900 in Philadelphia. He attended St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire; Harrow School in England; and Cambridge University, where he received his Bachelor's degree in 1922. In 1925, Bond began working for the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, eventually rising to the position of Curator of Birds. He was an expert in Caribbean birds and wrote the definitive book on the subject, Birds of the West Indies (1936). Bond won the Institute of Jamaica's Musgrave Medal in 1952, the Brewster Medal of the American Ornithologists Union in 1954, the Wilderness Club (Philadelphia) Medal in 1961, the Silver Medal of the Congresso Iber-Americano de Ornitologia in 1983 and the Leidy Medal of the Academy of Natural Sciences in 1975. James Bond died on February 14, 1989. On August 23, 1953, James Bond married Mary Fanning Wickham Porcher Lewis. Mary was born on June 8, 1898 in Philadelphia and received a diploma from Dana Hall in 1916. She also took extension courses in English at Columbia University in 1938 and the University of Pennsylvania in 1940. She was the author of many novels, including The Tilted Cup (1926) and Device and Desire (1950), and wrote for the Chestnut Hill Local, a weekly newspaper, which she also founded and edited. In 1953, Ian Fleming published his first James Bond novel, appropriating Mary's husband's name for his fictional spy character. The resulting escapades prompted Mary to write the story How 007 Got his Name (1966). She further detailed her life with the "real"James Bond in Far Afield in the Caribbean: Migratory Flights of a Naturalist's Wife (1971) and To James Bond with Love (1980). In 1988, Mary wrote an autobiography, Ninety Years at Home in Philadelphia. She died in 1997 at the age of 99.

From the description of Mary Wickham Bond papers on the "real" James Bond, 1907-1997. (Franklin & Marshall College). WorldCat record id: 352886489

"Mary Fanning Wickham Bond was born on June 8, 1898, the daughter of Samuel and Maria Porcher. Her father Samuel made a good living as the chief purchasing agent for the Pennsylvania Railroad. She was born into a life of privilege and was educated at a local private school. As a youth, she enjoyed such pastimes as horseback riding and attending debutante balls. Although born into this lifestyle, she never felt it dictated her behavior. Much to her father's dismay, her first job was selling at Wanamaker's department store. She was accepted to Bryn Mawr College around the time of World War I but chose instead to be an emergency aide, someone who volunteered as a nurse or air raid warden.

"Her first marriage was in 1930 to a man by the name of Shippen Lewis, a prominent lawyer in the region. This marriage lasted until 1952, when Lewis died. Two years later she married a man whose name would inspire one of the most well-known fictional characters in history; James Bond.

"James Bond was an ornithologist and Ian Fleming was something of a birdwatcher. [The Bonds] spent their winters in the West Indies where James wrote Birds of the West Indies. Ian Fleming read the book and thought that the author's name was a perfect fit for his international spy. What was to Fleming the "dullest name in the world" would become one of the most well known, much to the chagrin of the real life James Bond and his wife, Mary. She didn't mind the attention much during the day but her husband would get calls at 2 and 3 a.m., women looking for James Bond naturally. She would answer these calls irritably, saying "Yes, James is here, but this is Pussy Galore and he's busy now." Eventually, she set a meeting up between the [Bond and Fleming] which led to them becoming friends. This inspired her 1966 book How 007 Got His Name .

"Mary's writing career actually began in the 1920's, and, although none of her seven novels were published, she did receive the Philadelphia Browning Society's gold medal in 1926 for her sonnet entitled "The Gift." She took a hiatus from writing novels but continued to write poetry, magazine articles, and short stories. Then, in the 1940's she found inspiration at a local library in the form of a book titled Unusual and Eccentric Wills . The book was about a rich Viennese man who left nine of his relatives $25,000 but with one condition: they all had to stay away from his funeral. The real twist was that anyone who did show up would receive his entire fortune. Bond transplanted this story into 1950's Philadelphia and it resulted in a best seller for her: Device and Desire .

"In 1980, her book To James Bond with Love was published. In this book she chronicled her life married to James Bond. She made frequent trips with her husband on his trips to the Bahamas to gather information on birds. On one of these trips in February of 1964 they dropped in unannounced at Ian Fleming's Jamaica residence, an event she describes in comical detail. Apparently Mr. Fleming first thought that the Bonds may have dropped in unannounced to slap him with a libel suit for the theft of the name James Bond. This, of course, was not the case and all went well with their meeting. Upon their departure, Fleming even presented them with a copy of his then latest novel, You Only Live Twice . On the fly cover Fleming had signed it "To the real James Bond, from the Thief of his Identity." The remainder of the book describes their other adventures in the Caribbean, everything from traveling between islands on small boats and sleeping in less than desirable conditions to how James proved through his work that birds in the West Indies originated in North America. She would also write of these experiences in Far Afield in the Caribbean .

"James died in February of 1989, just one year after Mary Bond released her autobiography, Ninety Years At Home In Philadelphia . Mrs. Bond died in 1997 of congestive heart failure at the age of 99 in her home in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia."


Lutz, Rob. "Biography for Mary Fanning Wickham Bond." Pennsylvania Center for the Book. 2001. Accessed January 11, 2012.

From the guide to the Mary Bond collection, circa 1900-1998, (Chestnut Hill Historical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Mary Bond collection, circa 1900-1998 Chestnut Hill Historical Society
creatorOf Bond, Mary Wickham. Mary Wickham Bond papers on the "real" James Bond, 1907-1997. Free Library of Philadelphia, Parkway Central Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Bond, James, 1900-1989 person
associatedWith Contosta, David R. person
associatedWith Free Library of Philadelphia. Rare Book Dept. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Philadelphia (Pa.)
United States
Chestnut Hill (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Women authors
Bond, James (Fictitious character)


Active 1907

Active 1997



Ark ID: w6nw1jwb

SNAC ID: 47558753