Guy Burgess

Kim Philby and the Cambridge Five

The story of Guy Burgess and the “Cambridge Five” is dramatized in the classic BBC miniseries Cambridge Spies. Click to learn more.

Guy Burgess – Life

Guy Burgess was the hard-drinking, outspoken, and unorthodox member of the infamous Soviet spy ring, the “Cambridge Five.” He was born 16 April 1911, in Devonshire, Devon, U.K. He had a middle-class upbringing, before eventually turning his coat to the USSR during the Cold War.

In a long-lost interview from Moscow in 1959, Guy Burgess expressed regret at having to abandon his family and friends in England. The interview only resurfaced in 2015, but instead of giving audiences a glimpse into what many find to be a thrilling espionage tale, it painted a portrait of sad, broken, self-destructive man.

Plagued by alcoholism-linked diseases, Guy Burgess died 30 August 1963.

Guy Burgess – The Spy

Guy Burgess was recruited by MI5 to work in the war propaganda department. From there he passed hundreds of secret documents on to his Moscow handlers over the years. He eventually was sent to work in Washington D.C. at the British embassy.

Fellow Soviet spy and Burgess’ roommate, Kim Philby, alerted Burgess that Donald Maclean, another spy, was under suspicion of treason. Fearing for his own life, Guy Burgess fled with Maclean to Moscow and went into hiding.

You  can read more about Guy Burgess and the other members of the “Cambridge Five” here.

Guy Burgess at Cambridge

Guy Burgess attended Trinity College, University of Cambridge. There he read Modern History. He was on track for a career in the Royal Navy, to follow in his father’s footsteps, but his poor eyesight changed that course. Upon graduating, Burgess held a two year teaching position at the Unveristy.

Burgess met both Kim Philby and Anthony Blunt, who would go on to form the “Cambridge Five” with him. Burgess and Blunt were both a part of the Cambridge Apostles, a secret, elite debating society. At the time to members of the Apostles harbored many Marxist tendencies and philosophies.

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