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Memoir details the life of late British spy

ONE of Britain's most notorious spies, Russian mole Anthony Blunt, has finally revealed snippets of his clandestine life and complex motivations in a memoir brought to light 25 years after his death.

Blunt, a former Cambridge professor and renowned art historian, was unmasked publicly as a spy by former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1979, 15 years after confessing to being part of a four-man Soviet ring that included Kim Philby.

After his confession, Blunt was given immunity in exchange for information and allowed to continue in his role as surveyor of the Queen's pictures and a professor of art history.

But after his public exposure, which prompted him to contemplate suicide, Blunt sat down and wrote a 30,000-word manuscript that amounts to a short account of his life, from birth through to the moment of his unmasking.

Following his death in 1983, the memoir was anonymously donated to the British Library on condition that it not be made available for 25 years, a restriction that has now expired.

"Although it contains no revelations, the memoir is important as an account of Blunt's life and motives in his own words and with his own emphasis," said Frances Harris, head of modern historical manuscripts at the British Library.

"It is the one central document bearing on this long, complex and controversial episode in recent history which has been known to exist, but has not hitherto been accessible."

By Blunt's account, his introduction to the Soviets came via his friend and fellow agent Guy Burgess, a bright, persuasive homosexual who Blunt, who was also gay, met while he was teaching at Cambridge in the early 1930s.

He described his move into espionage as "the biggest mistake of my life."

While a fascinating document in its own right, reaction to the manuscript has been mixed, with those who have both read it and knew Blunt during his time as an art professor describing it as a "damp squib" that fails to get to the heart of the matter.


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