Literary Agents: Novelist as Spy by Anthony Masters
Spy novels have been one of the most successful literary genres of the 20th century. But how many of their authors were spies themselves? In this book, the authors penetrate the shadowy world of British Intelligence in an attempt to uncover some of the less celebrated activities of well-known literary names. From John Buchan during and after World War I and Compton Mackenzie in the tense and suspicious 1930s, the story continues through the World War II exploits of Graham Greene and Malcolm Muggeridge to the post-war era of Ian Fleming and John le Carre. The author explores his subjects' attitudes and responses to their varying experiences and suggests how these experiences were transmuted into fiction - and how the secret services tried to prevent this. The reality of espionage work was not always the thrilling, momentous and intricate world depicted in much modern spy fiction. Often humdrum, and sometimes frightening, frequently absurd and bathetic, the facets of this world are as varied, and as surprising, as the subjects of the book - and their own fictional characters - themselves.