A new biography of Moura Budberg
by Deborah McDonald and Jeremy Dronfield

Spy, adventurer, aristocrat, charismatic seductress, mistress of two of the century’s greatest writers – Baroness Moura Budberg was all of these. But she was also a woman who loved. Her life story is a tale of passion, betrayal and espionage that spans a whole continent and half a century. A woman who was born to indulgence, pleasure and selfishness, but who sacrificed herself for love amidst the flames of the Russian Revolution – and was betrayed.


In 1918, the British diplomat and secret agent Robert Bruce Lockhart arrived in Revolutionary Russia. His official mission: Britain’s envoy to the new Bolshevik government. His true mission: to create a network of agents and plot the downfall of Lenin. A keen ladies’ man, Lockhart soon got to know Moura, the aristocratic socialite, hedonist and notorious seductress. The two fell in love and began a passionate affair.


What Lockhart didn’t know was that Moura was spying for the Bolsheviks; and what the Bolsheviks didn’t know was that Moura had fallen utterly, helplessly in love with the romantic British agent … so much in love that when Lockhart’s mission became fatally dangerous, Moura would sacrifice herself in an attempt to protect him from Lenin’s terrifying secret police.

"A Russian of the Russians, she had a lofty disregard for all the pettiness of life and a courage which was proof against all cowardice … Into my life something had entered which was stronger than any other tie, stronger than life itself. From then onwards she was never to leave … until we were parted by the armed force of the Bolsheviks.” (Robert Bruce Lockhart, Memoirs of a British Agent, 1932)


Theirs was a love – and ultimately a devastating betrayal – that would dominate the rest of Moura’s life. She would go into exile, taking new lovers – including Maxim Gorky and H. G. Wells, who were both obsessed with her – and would spy for Stalin. In England she worked for both sides amidst the web surrounding the Cambridge spies. But all the while, she would never stop hoping that she might one day be reunited with her beloved Lockhart, the betrayer, whom she loved with a passion she believed was stronger than death.

Temptress, seductress, sexploiter, call her what you will, Moura had espionage running through her veins, and all is revealed in this fascinating account of her mysterious life.
Nigel West, author of Operation Garbo

A Very Dangerous Woman is an incredible, beautifully written story … an absorbing and colourful account of the individuals and events that changed the world  in the first half of the twentieth century.
Susan Ottaway, author of Sisters, Secrets and Sacrifice

Grippingly narrated, this is the first biography of Baroness Moura Budberg to use the full range of previously unexamined letters, diaries, witness testimony, Cheka case reports and Security Service (MI5) surveillance documents. Moura’s adventures, her character and her world are brought vividly to life in an incredible true story with dramatic resonances that rival the most sensational novel.

This book could read like a thriller, yet the thorough research here provides a weightier feast. This is impressive, given Moura’s desire to control her own image and her fabrication of facts for both work and pleasure.
Clare Mulley, author of The Spy Who Loved in The Spectator


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published by Oneworld Publications

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