Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Innocent Spy

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The Innocent Spy

A Mystery

by Laura Wilson

The Innocent Spy by Laura Wilson
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  • Published:
    Jul 2009, 464 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Vy Armour

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Real-life Spies
The character of Colonel Forbes-James is based in part on the spymaster Charles Maxwell Knight (1900-1968). After rising through the ranks of the British Fascisti organization, Knight was recruited by M15 in the mid-1920's, and later headed up B5b, the division responsible for monitoring political subversion. As M15's chief agent runner, Knight did not agree with the prejudice against the employment of women as agents - in fact, he endorsed their particular aptitude as agents provocateurs - and consequently many of his best agents were women.

One of Knight's most important agents was Joan Miller (1918-1984), portrayed by Diana in The Innocent Spy. Miller's main assignment was to spy on the Right Club, a secret society which attempted to unify all of the right-wing groups in Britain. As in real life, Diana frequents the Russian Tea Room which became the meeting place for members of the Right Club. Also, like Joan Miller, Diana is portrayed as an attractive upper-class girl.

The character of Peverell Montague in The Innocent Spy is loosely based on Archibald Ramsay (1894-1955), who founded The Right Club in 1939. In Ramsay’s autobiography, The Nameless War, he states that the main object of the Right Club was to "oppose and expose the activities of Organized Jewry." Ramsay (Montague) was unaware that M15 agents had infiltrated the Right Club, including Joan Miller (Diana). Their intelligence work eventually led to the arrest and detention of several key members, including Ramsay.

Article by Vy Armour

This article is from the September 2, 2009 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

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