Anthony Blunt memoir available in British Library Reading Rooms





Last Thursday, July 23rd, the manuscript memoir of Anthony Blunt became available for study in the Manuscripts Reading Room at the British Library. The manuscript was given to the British Library in July 1984, just over a year after Blunt’s death, by a donor who wished to remain anonymous and on the condition that the manuscript be withheld from public access for 25 years. Anthony Blunt began to write his memoir in 1979, after his public exposure as a spy.

Anthony Frederick Blunt (1907-1983) studied at Trinity College, Cambridge. He was named Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures and oversaw the opening of the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace in 1961. He was Professor of History of Art at the University of London and Director of the Courtauld Institute of Art from 1947 to 1974. During the Second World War and until 1951, he worked for MI5 and was knighted in 1956 for his work.

Blunt was also a Russian spy. He joined the Communist Party at Cambridge and was initially recruited by the Russian NKVD, as a ‘talent spotter’, in 1937. Following a series of interrogations by British security forces in the 1950s, he was independently identified as a spy in 1964. He was granted immunity from prosecution and the British government agreed to keep his spying career an official secret for 15 years in return for a full confession. In the 1970s, however, he was identified as the ‘Fourth Man’ of the Cambridge Five, a group of spies including Kim Philby, Donald Duart Mclean, Guy Burgess and John Cairncross who worked for the Soviet Union during the Second World War and into the 1950s. In 1979, he was publicly named a spy by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the House of Commons...

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