Stalin’s Englishman: The Lives of Guy Burgess

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A lecture by Andrew Lownie, literary agent and author.

An engaging and charming companion to many, an unappealing, utterly ruthless manipulator to others, Guy Burgess rose through academia, the BBC, the Foreign Office, MI5 and MI6, gaining access to thousands of highly sensitive secret documents which he passed to his Russian handlers. In his lecture, Andrew Lownie, author of the first full biography of Guy Burgess, will argue he was the most important, complex and fascinating of 'The Cambridge Spies', recruited in the 1930s to betray their country to the Soviet Union.

Andrew will discuss how Guy Burgess's chaotic personal life of drunken philandering did nothing to stop his penetration and betrayal of the British intelligence service. Even when he was under suspicion, the fabled charm which had enabled many close personal relationships with influential Establishment figures (including Winston Churchill) prevented his exposure as a spy for many years. Drawing on interviews with more than a hundred people who knew Burgess personally, many of whom have never spoken about him before, and the discovery of hitherto secret files, Andrew will seek to unravel the many lives of Guy Burgess in all their intriguing, chilling, colourful and tragicomic wonder.

Speaker Biography

Andrew Lownie read history at Magdalene College, Cambridge where he was President of the Union. He went on to gain an MSc at Edinburgh University and spend a year at the College of Law in London. After a period as a bookseller and journalist, he began his publishing career as the graduate trainee at Hodder & Stoughton. In 1985 became an agent at John Farquharson, now part of Curtis Brown, and the following year became the then youngest director in British publishing when he was appointed a director. He set up the Andrew Lownie Literary Agency in 1988. Since 1984 he has written and reviewed for a range of newspapers and magazines, including The Times, Spectator and Guardian. As an author himself, most notably of a biography of John Buchan and a literary companion to Edinburgh, he has an understanding of the issues and problems affecting writers. He is the founder of the Biographers’ Club and judge for the Plutarch Biography Prize and St Ermin’s Hotel Intelligence Book Prize.

Andrew will be on hand to sign copies of his latest book, Stalin’s Englishman: The Lives of Guy Burgess (Hodder & Stoughton, September 2015), which will be on sale.

An optional £10 sandwich lunch shall be available from 1215.

This event is open to all RUSI members. To become a member, please click here.

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