Inside the shadowy world of Edith Tudor-Hart, photographer and Soviet spy


A committed communist from a Jewish background, Edith Tudor-Hart was born and grew up in Vienna but fled to Britain after the fascists came to power in Austria in the 1930s. There she helped recruit the notorious Soviet spy Kim Philby and was an intermediary for another, the art historian Anthony Blunt. In a recent book translated into French, Tudor-Hart's great nephew Peter Stephan Jungk recounts the life story of his great aunt, who was a talented photographer. As Dominique Conil argues, one of the strengths of this moving portrait is that it avoids the Cold War spying clichés so beloved of many writers and directors. 

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The first chapter of this book about the life of Edith Tudor Hart opens on the Wiener Riesenrad, the giant Ferris wheel that dominates the Prater amusement park in Vienna. Inevitably it brings to mind a scene from the post-war film noir The Third Man. It is not an irrelevant thought, either, for that film's screenplay was written by British novelist Graham Greene, whose boss at the British security agency MI6 had been Kim Philby. And the name of Philby, who was later exposed as a Soviet spy, crops up regularly in this book which recounts Edith Tudor-Hart's life as an émigrée in Britain and as a Soviet spy herself.