53 Facts About Anthony Blunt


Anthony Frederick Blunt, styled Sir Anthony Blunt KCVO from 1956 to November 1979, was a leading British art historian and Soviet spy.


In 1964, after being offered immunity from prosecution, Anthony Blunt confessed to having been a spy for the Soviet Union.


Anthony Blunt was considered to be the "fourth man" of the Cambridge Five, a group of Cambridge-educated spies who worked for the Soviet Union from sometime in the 1930s to at least the early 1950s.


Anthony Blunt was the fourth member of the group to be discovered; the fifth, John Cairncross was yet to be revealed.


Anthony Blunt had already been exposed in print by historian Andrew Boyle earlier that year.


Anthony Blunt was born in Bournemouth, in Hampshire at that time but now in Dorset, the third and youngest son of a vicar, the Revd Stanley Vaughan Anthony Blunt, and his wife, Hilda Violet, daughter of Henry Master of the Madras civil service.


Anthony Blunt's siblings included the writer Wilfrid Jasper Walter Blunt and numismatist Christopher Evelyn Blunt.


The young Anthony Blunt became fluent in French and experienced intensely the artistic culture available to him there, stimulating an interest which lasted a lifetime and formed the basis for his later career.


Anthony Blunt was educated at Marlborough College, a boys' public school in Marlborough, Wiltshire.


Anthony Blunt was remembered by historian John Edward Bowle, a year ahead of Blunt at Marlborough, as "an intellectual prig, too preoccupied with the realm of ideas".


Bowle thought Anthony Blunt had "too much ink in his veins and belonged to a world of rather prissy, cold-blooded, academic puritanism".


In 1928 Anthony Blunt founded a political magazine, Venture, the contributors to which were left-wing writers.


Anthony Blunt won a scholarship in mathematics to Trinity College, Cambridge.


However, they could not earn a degree in less than three years, hence Anthony Blunt spent four years at Trinity and switched to Modern Languages, eventually graduating in 1930 with a first class degree.


Anthony Blunt taught French at Cambridge and became a Fellow of Trinity College in 1932.


Shortly after meeting Deutsch, writes Carter, Anthony Blunt became a Soviet "talent spotter" and was given the NKVD code name 'Tony'.


Anthony Blunt said in his public confession that it was Burgess who converted him to the Soviet cause, after both had left Cambridge.


In MI5, Anthony Blunt began passing the results of Ultra intelligence to the Soviets, as well as details of German spy rings operating in the Soviet Union.


Anthony Blunt reported that at the Paris meeting in late 1955 Rothschild argued that much more Ultra material should have been given to Stalin.


Blunt's student Oliver Millar, who would become his successor as Surveyor, said, "I think Anthony was happier there than many other places".


The letters rescued by Morshead and Anthony Blunt were deposited in the Royal Archives and were returned in 1951.


Anthony Blunt was to warn Maclean, who now worked in the Foreign Office but was under surveillance and isolated from secret material.


Anthony Blunt collected Burgess at Southampton Docks and took him to stay at his flat in London, although he later denied that he had warned the defecting pair.


Anthony Blunt was interrogated by MI5 in 1952, but gave away little, if anything.


Anthony Blunt suggested that this was not sufficient reason to denounce Burgess to MI5.


Anthony Blunt confessed to MI5 on 23 April 1964, and Queen Elizabeth II was informed shortly thereafter.


Anthony Blunt named Jenifer Hart, Phoebe Pool, John Cairncross, Peter Ashby, Brian Symon and Leonard Henry Long as spies.


Anthony Blunt passed analyses but not original material relating to the Eastern Front to Blunt.


Anthony Blunt acknowledged that he had recruited spies for the Soviet Union from among young radical students at Cambridge, passed information to the Russians while he served as a high-ranking British intelligence officer during World War II, and had helped two of his former Cambridge students who had become Soviet moles inside the British Foreign Service, Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, escape to the Soviet Union in 1951 just as their activities were about to be exposed.


Anthony Blunt was convinced that the confession would be kept secret.


Anthony Blunt was not stripped of his knighthood until the Prime Minister officially announced his treachery in 1979.


For unknown reasons, Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home was not advised of Anthony Blunt's spying, although the Queen and Home Secretary Henry Brooke had been fully informed.


Anthony Blunt's life was little affected by the knowledge of his treachery.


In September 1979, Anthony Blunt had tried to obtain a typescript before the publication of Boyle's book.


In interviews to publicise his book, Boyle refused to confirm that Anthony Blunt was 'Maurice' and asserted that was the government's responsibility.


For weeks after Thatcher's announcement, Anthony Blunt was hunted by the press.


Anthony Blunt had recently given a lecture at the invitation of Francis Haskell, Oxford University's professor of art history.


Anthony Blunt broke down in tears in his BBC Television confession at the age of 72.


Anthony Blunt died of a heart attack at his London home, 9 The Grove, Highgate, in 1983, aged 75.


Anthony Blunt withdrew from society after he was officially exposed and seldom went out, but continued his work on art history.


Anthony Blunt held the position for 27 years, was knighted as a KCVO in 1956 for his work in the role, and his contribution was vital in the expansion of the Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace, which opened in 1962, and organizing the cataloguing of the collection.


In 1947, Anthony Blunt became both Professor of the History of Art at the University of London, and the director of the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, where he had been lecturing since the spring of 1933, and where his tenure in office as director lasted until 1974.


Anthony Blunt is often credited for making the Courtauld what it is today, as well as for pioneering art history in Britain, and for training the next generation of British art historians.


Anthony Blunt wrote on topics as diverse as William Blake, Pablo Picasso, the Galleries of England, Scotland, and Wales.


Anthony Blunt attended a summer school in Sicily in 1965, leading to a deep interest in Sicilian Baroque architecture, and in 1968 he wrote the only authoritative and in-depth book on Sicilian Baroque.


Anthony Blunt was unaware that a painting in his own possession was by Poussin.


Anthony Blunt intended to write a monograph about the architecture of Pietro da Cortona but he died before realising the project.


Anthony Blunt's manuscripts were sent to the intended co-author of this work, German art historian Jorg Martin Merz by the executors of his will.


Anthony Blunt's writing is lucid, and places art and architecture in their context in history.


The Untouchable, a 1997 novel by John Banville, is a based largely on the life and character of Anthony Blunt; the novel's protagonist, Victor Maskell, is a loosely disguised Blunt.


Anthony Blunt was portrayed by Samuel West in Cambridge Spies, a 2003 four-part BBC television drama concerning the lives of the Cambridge Four from 1934 to the defection of Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean to the Soviet Union.


Anthony Blunt continued as Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures until his retirement in 1972.


Anthony Blunt is portrayed by Nicholas Rowe in the 2022 ITVX miniseries A Spy Among Friends; an espionage drama based on Ben Macintyre's book of the same name.