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Andrew Lownie: In search of Guy Burgess

Posted on: 08/09/2015 with tags: anthony blunt, cambridge, cambridge spies, espionage, Guy Burgess, hodder, kgb, mi6, spies, stalin's englishman, sying

The author of STALIN’S ENGLISHMAN Andrew Lownie has written this fantastic article on his search for Guy Burgess, the most fascinating figure of the infamous Cambridge spy ring.

In search of Guy Burgess

I’ve been interested in Guy Burgess since I was a child and especially , after the exposure of Sir Anthony Blunt  in 1979, each week seemed to bring some fresh revelation about a new Cambridge Spy. At Cambridge University I organised a seminar on the Cambridge Spy Ring and on graduating helped research a biography of Anthony Blunt.

In fact, my first job was as the Hodder graduate trainee and I remembered being summoned from the Hodder warehouse in Dunton Green to explain to the head of Hodder to explain what was in the book when the American publisher came to sell UK rights.

My research for the book ,over the last thirty years , has taken me from elderly all-male parties in Tangier to interviewing KGB generals in Moscow, from weeks spent in archives all over Britain and America to clashes with the FBI, CIA, Foreign Office and Cabinet Office as I campaigned to secure release of documents under Freedom of Information legislation.

An early break through was finding the great love of Burgess’s life, Peter Pollock, who supplied pictures and letters. I traced Burgess’s brother and his two sons who were helpful and supplied stories about Burgess’s intense relationship with his mother, his last testament and family photographs.

Research at Eton, Dartmouth Naval College, Trinity College Cambridge, BBC and in Foreign Office files , as well as in newspaper cuttings , gave me the outlines of his life and I was able to supplement the official record with over a hundred interviews with people, almost all of whom had never spoken before, who were at school, university, in the BBC , in the Foreign Office with him or had visited him in Moscow.

Over the last twenty years files on Burgess have gradually been released in Russia, America and Britain . Using Freedom of Information Act requests, I’ve managed to have released several secret files which shed new light on his importance as a spy. The result, I hope, is a fresh and vivid picture of a complex man – Stalin’s Englishman.

Find out more on the official website for the book.

Amy Dolman

© Chris Adams

Post author: Amy Dolman

Amy is responsible for the smooth running of the H for History website, and enjoys reading history-based fantasy. She also like to photograph sites of historical interest in her spare time with a cup of bovril and a pork pie for company. Favourite period of history: Ancient;
Favourite historical read: Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave;
Upcoming book i’m most looking forward to: Mister Memory by Marcus Sedgwick

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