Alan Judd

Monkey Business

M: Maxwell Knight, MI5’s Greatest Spymaster

By

Preface 400pp £20 order from our bookshop

Maxwell Knight (1900–1968) was widely known as a naturalist, BBC broadcaster and author who maintained a collection of household pets, including bears, baboons, bulldogs, spiders, snakes and marmosets. Two of his books were illustrated by a young David Cornwell (better known now as John le Carré). But for thirty years he was also MI5’s most influential agent runner, masterminding long-term penetration of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) and helping to ensure that fascism never took hold in Britain. Le Carré was one of his staff.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • He weeps by the side of the ocean, He weeps on the top of the hill; He purchases pancakes and lotion, And chocolate… ,
    • 'Half-way through The Conquest of Water I felt as if I had been subjected to the literary equivalent of excessive c… ,
    • 'Volume five, then, but still no end in sight. Sandbrook is clearly enjoying himself so much he can’t bear the seri… ,
    • 'By the end of the book something so weighty, stylish and impressive has been built up that one feels far nearer to… ,
    • 'Her ensuing psychotic episode is described so convincingly ... that the reader will wonder if Dobrakovová did not… ,
    • 'The perspectives complement and contest one another, amounting to a glorious, atmospheric set of ventriloquisms.'… ,
    • RT : I reviewed The Testaments for . I will not be taking any questions at this time. ,