Q&A at the Spy Museum

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There’s a Q&A with A Very Dangerous Woman authors Jeremy Dronfield and Deborah McDonald at the website of the International Spy Museum, Washington DC, plus another book giveaway for US and Canadian members of the Museum.

Deborah McDonald photo for book

Q: What new information does the book reveal?

A: This is the first biography of Moura to make use of the 400 pages of newly declassified British government intelligence documentation about her during three decades (1921 – 1952) which illustrates the extent of her spying activities. We’ve also uncovered a series of interviews conducted with Moura’s friends in the 1980s by the author Andrew Boyle, which he undertook when he was planning to write a biography of Moura.

Putting together information from her government surveillance file and the Boyle interviews, we have discovered that Moura worked as a double agent as early as 1918, spying for Bolshevik Russia and the German-backed aristocratic Ukrainian government during the war between them. New material from Russian sources has also cast new light on the so-called “Lockhart Plot” – the British plan to overthrow Lenin in which Moura was deeply involved. Although she was only 26 years old, she was capable of playing men off against each other for her own ends – elder statesmen, spies, diplomats and hardened agents.

Read the whole Q&A at the International Spy Museum website. Members can enter a draw for a chance of winning one of five copies of A Very Dangerous Woman.

In other news, we have another fantastic review, this time from Russian security expert Mark Galeotti.

… The tale of Baroness Moura Budberg is a splendid one, not least as she herself was such an assiduous mythmaker. What emerges from this entertaining and well-researched book is a picture of a woman at once a big-game hunter of larger-than-life men (her bag included Robert Bruce Lockhart the spy, Maxim Gorky and H. G. Wells the writers, and not one but two Baltic aristocrats) and also a devotee of a high life and a fast reputation.

Read the full review at In Moscow’s Shadows.

Wonders & Marvels giveaway

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With A Very Dangerous Woman published today in the USA and Canada, history website Wonders & Marvels features a guest post by the book’s co-author Jeremy Dronfield.

W&M has two copies of A Very Dangerous Woman to give away to US readers; sign up by June 29th to qualify.

Moura in Moscow 1918

From Jeremy’s post:

Spy, seductress, aristocrat, Baroness Moura Budberg was a mystery to everyone who knew her, even her closest friends and her children.

In London in the 1950s, she was a renowned saloniste; nobody else had the magnetic charm or the air of danger and mystery that surrounded Baroness Budberg, and her soirées attracted Graham Greene, Laurence Olivier, Guy Burgess, Bertrand Russell, David Lean, E. M. Forster, Peter Ustinov – all came to drink gin and vodka and be enchanted.

In her prime she had been the mistress of both Maxim Gorky and H. G. Wells, both obsessed with her. Wells, whose proposals of marriage she turned down repeatedly, thought her the most compellingly attractive woman alive, and he wasn’t the only one.

Read the rest of the post at Wonders & Marvels.

Lives, Loves & Lies

With publication of A Very Dangerous Woman due in the USA tomorrow (June 9), History News Network today carries a piece about Moura Budberg written by the book's authors Jeremy Dronfield and Deborah McDonald. It tackles the subject of Moura’s three great relationships – with Maxim Gorky, H. G. Wells and Robert Bruce Lockhart.

From the article:

Next year will be the 70th anniversary of H. G. Wells’s death. Besides being one of the great visionary writers of his generation, Wells was a renowned womanizer; the novelist Arnold Bennett marveled at his energy, with “four new novels and five new mistresses every year.” But Wells met his match in Moura Budberg – aristocrat, socialite and spy, she was the one lover he was unable to tame, and yet the one he desired above all others. She loved another.

Moura, Wells, Gorky

Moura with H. G. Wells (left) and Maxim Gorky in Petrograd, 1920.

When Wells first met Moura in 1920, she was living in the commune created in Petrograd (St Petersburg) by the writer Maxim Gorky, acting as his secretary and de facto wife. He too was in love with her.

Gorky loved Moura deeply, and grew ever more dependent on her visits. Moura was fond of him and admired him greatly, but never loved him romantically. None of the lovers with whom she amused herself ever possessed her entirely – her heart had already been taken years before by the romantic British agent Robert Bruce Lockhart – a man skilled equally with a pen or a revolver.

Lockhart had come to Russia in 1918 as Britain’s secret representative to the new Bolshevik government (none of the Allied nations recognized it as a legitimate government, but most sent “unofficial” diplomatic agents). He met Moura, who had been employed by the British Embassy as a clerk and had many close British friends, and the two fell immediately in love.

In fact, Lockhart’s mission in Russia turned out to have a secret, much more sinister side to it, and Moura found herself caught up in the notorious “Lockhart Plot” and was faced with the choice between her own honour and the life of her lover.

Read the rest of the article at History News Network.

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