British Writers and MI5 Surveillance, 1930-1960

British Writers and MI5 Surveillance, 1930-1960

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Britain's domestic intelligence agencies maintained secret records on many left-wing writers after the First World War. Drawing on recently declassified material from 1930 to 1960, this revealing study examines how leading figures in Britain's literary scene fell under MI5 and Special Branch surveillance, and the surprising extent to which writers became willing participants in the world of covert intelligence and propaganda. Chapters devoted to W. H. Auden and his associates, theatre pioneers Ewan MacColl and Joan Littlewood, George Orwell and others describe methods used by MI5 to gather information through and about the cultural world. The book also investigates how these covert agencies assessed the political influence of such writers, providing scholars and students of twentieth-century British literature with an unprecedented account of clandestine operations in popular more

Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 1139848488
  • 9781139848480

About James Smith

James Smith is Lecturer in English Literature at Durham University. Author of a critical study on the work of Terry Eagleton (2008), he has published widely in journals such as New Theatre Quarterly and Literature and History. He received his PhD from the University of Cambridge in more

Review quote

'... a sober and scholarly attempt to tell the story straight.' Sam Leith, The Guardian 'Admirable scholarship ...' New Statesman 'Groundbreaking ...' The Times Higher Education Supplement 'A good story ...' The Times Literary Supplement 'This intelligent, balanced, and thoughtfully probing book activates what promises to be a rich and highly revealing dialogue.' Peter Marks, Journal of British Studies 'Smith examines MI5 files held on writers before and after WWII in this compelling book ... [he] is judicious in framing his study. Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.' J. M. Utell, Choiceshow more

Table of contents

Abbreviations; Preface; 1. Intellectual and intelligence contexts, 1930-60; 2. The Auden circle; 3. Ewan MacColl, Joan Littlewood, and Theatre Workshop; 4. Arthur Koestler and George Orwell; Epilogue; more