British diplomat and Soviet agent. Born at Devonport, Devon, Burgess was educated at Eton, the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, and at Trinity College, Cambridge. It was at Cambridge in the 1930s that he became a communist and was recruited as a Soviet agent, working with Donald Maclean, Anthony Blunt, and Kim Philby. From 1936 to 1939 Burgess worked for the BBC, switching to war propaganda in 1939, then using the BBC as a cover for his work for MI5 between 1941 and 1944. Burgess was moved to the Foreign Office after the war to work in the British Embassy in Washington as second secretary under Philby. In 1951 Burgess was sent home by Philby to warn Maclean of impending proceedings against him; shortly afterwards both Philby and Maclean disappeared. Having despatched a telegram stating ‘We are taking a long Mediterranean holiday’, the pair finally surfaced again in the Soviet Union in 1956. Burgess died in Russian exile. His experiences in Russia are sympathetically portrayed in Alan Bennett's play An Englishman Abroad (1982).
From Who's Who in the Twentieth Century in Oxford Reference.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).