Engraving of Elizabeth I with William Cecil (left) and Francis Walsingham (right)
We’ve loved our spy fiction for over 100 years. The early years of the twentieth century saw the start of the genre, with Kim, by Rudyard Kipling, several books by Joseph Conrad, The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness Orczy, even some of the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Sexy heroes, thrilling encounters, mysterious beautiful women, and ghastly villains. Spy novels had it all. How things have changed.
Disreputable and dishonest
In the past, spying was a murky hidden business, and spies despised as liars who sold their honour. The British Secret Service was not founded until the twentieth century, and before that spies were seen as dishonest and disreputable. Yet without them, the history of England would be very different.
Henry VIII and Elizabeth I both had spymasters whose extensive spy networks helped keep…
View original post 810 more words