Lecture on Tom Burns at LSE

LSE has announced a lecture next Thursday (21 February) on the subject of Tom Burns’ WWII espionage career in Spain. His connection with Evelyn Waugh is mentioned in the announcement:

In 1940, Tom Burns,Ā a young British Catholic publisher and friend of Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh, was recruited by theĀ British wartime propaganda Ministry of Information and posted to the British Embassy in Madrid.Ā Under the cover of his official postĀ as press attachĆ©, he used his considerable ingenuity and network of Spanish contacts to help organise and deliver the propaganda and intelligence war against the Nazis. The aim was to keep the Franco regime from siding militarily with Hitler and protect Allied interests in Gibraltar, the Western Mediterranean, and North Africa.Ā In doing so he found himself at the heart of a web of intrigue, grappling not only against the Nazis but also drawn intoĀ internecine conflicts with which theĀ secret services were riven.Ā It is a dramatic story which evokes the shadow world of clandestine meetings and agent running, bribery, and betrayal. Among the extraordinary dramatis personae are Soviet spy Kim Philby, then head of MI6’s Iberian section, the pro-German Duke and Duchess of Windsor, the British actor Lesley Howard, andĀ  Burns’ nemesis, the German press attachĆ©Ā Hans Lazar.

Burns was employed by Sheed & Ward, London, when they arranged to publish Edmund Campion, but he transferred to Longmans, Green (apparently when Sheed & Ward moved to New York where they published the USA edition). Longmans, Green issued the first UK edition under their imprint. Burns also Ā arranged publication by Longmans, Green of Waugh in Abyssinia. It was Burns who suggested that title which Waugh didn’t particularly like. He also arranged for Waugh to write a history of the Jesuits but that never came about. The lecture will be given by Burns’ son James at Cowdray House, LSE at 6pm. Details available here.


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