British author Frederick Forsyth made big news recently when he admitted that he had worked as a secret agent for the MI6, the British foreign intelligence agency. But the author of The Day of the Jackal isn’t the only writer who once worked as a spy. Check out this list of forger secret agents turned writers. You might be surprised to see who shows up!
Roald Dahl flew fighter planes in World War II, and afterwards went to work in the British embassy in Washington, DC. There, allegedly, he worked with British and Candian agents to investigate the political leanings of prominent American women. According to some sources, including his friend Antoinette Haskell, Dahl was sleeping with all of these women in order to get close to them.
The creator of the world’s most famous spy was a spy himself! Ian Fleming, who penned the James Bond novels that gave birth to the entire Bond franchise, worked for British Naval intelligence during World War II. He helped plot several successful espionage missions against Nazi Germany.
As we mentioned earlier, Forsyth is all over the news these days – and why wouldn’t he be? The British author has admitted that he worked for MI6 in the 1960s and 70s, working occasional assignments without pay while he was a freelance writer in sensitive international areas. Forsyth drew on his experience to write the bestselling spy novels that made him famous.
There must be something about working for British intelligence that makes a person want to write novels. Like several other authors on this list, Graham Greene worked for MI6. Greene’s situation is unique, though, in that he was already well-known as an author when he began to work as a spy. Greene’s reputation as a man who loved to travel and his career as an author allowed him to come and go from sensitive areas more easily, which in turn made him a valuable asset to MI6.
Did Ernest Hemingway work for the KGB? In Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB, authors Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes and Alexander Vassiliev allege that he did. According to them, Hemingway fed information to the Russian spy agency until 1950. He was dropped as a source because his information wasn’t of much use.
Like several other writers on this list, le Carré’s career as a spy led to his eventual career as an espionage writer. John le Carré worked for both the Security Service (MI5) and the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) in the UK. His bestselling novels include The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.
American Jason Matthews is the latest in a long line of great spy authors who have been secret agents themselves. Matthews worked with the CIA, deep in dangerous foreign territory. Now he’s making a name for himself as the author of espionage novels. His second book, Red Sparrow, came out earlier this year.
Matthiessen won the National Book Award three times and founded the Paris Review. He also worked for the CIA – and, in fact, the Paris Review was a part of his cover. The Review’s co-founders were never aware of this, however, and Matthiessen always insisted in interviews that the Paris Review was never a tool of the CIA.