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Mary Bond collection


Held at: Chestnut Hill Historical Society [Contact Us]8708 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, PA, 19118

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Chestnut Hill Historical Society. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

"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.

The Mary Bond collection, circa 1900-1998, includes poems, articles, scrapbooks, correspondence, notes, lists, photographs, and magazine articles.

Gift of Mary Fanning Wickham Bond, 1996.

Chestnut Hill Historical Society
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Michael Gubicza through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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