Spy, adventurer, charismatic seductress and mistress of two of the century’s greatest writers, the Russian aristocrat Baroness Moura Budberg was born in 1892 to indulgence, pleasure and selfishness. But after she met the British diplomat and secret agent Robert Bruce Lockhart, she sacrificed everything for love, only to be betrayed.
When Lockhart arrived in Revolutionary Russia in 1918, his official mission was Britain’s envoy to the new Bolshevik government, yet his real assignment was to create a network of agents and plot the downfall of Lenin. Lockhart soon got to know Moura and they began a passionate affair, even though Moura was spying on him for the Bolsheviks. But when Lockhart’s plot unravelled, she would forsake everything in an attempt to protect him from Lenin’s secret police. Fleeing to a life of exile in England and taking a string of new lovers, including Maxim Gorky and H. G. Wells, Moura later spied for Stalin and for Britain amidst the web of scandal surrounding the Cambridge spies. Through all this she clung to the hope that Lockhart would finally return to her.
Grippingly narrated, this is the first biography of Moura Budberg to use the full range of previously unexamined letters, diaries and documents. An incredible true story of passion, espionage and double crossing that encircled the globe, A Very Dangerous Woman brings her extraordinary world vividly to life with dramatic resonances to rival the most sensational novel.
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Deborah McDonald is the author of Clara Collet 1860-1948: An Educated Working Woman and The Prince, His Tutor and the Ripper: The Evidence Linking James Kenneth Stephen to the Whitechapel Murders. She lives on the Isle of Wight.
Jeremy Dronfield is a multifaceted writer, biographer and novelist. His books include the bestselling novel The Locust Farm, Resurrecting Salvador, Burning Blue and the critically acclaimed The Alchemist’s Apprentice. He is also co-author of several historical biographies, including a life of Dr James Barry, the 19th-century surgeon who was discovered to be a woman in disguise.
"McDonald and Dronfield convincingly capture Moura's perilous sensuality."
The Wall Street Journal
"Temptress, seductress, sexploiter, call her what you will, Moura had espionage running through her veins, and all is revealed in this fascinating account of her mysterious life."
Nigel West, author of Operation Garbo
"A thrilling new biography of baroness and double agent Moura Budberg . Brave and multi-faceted, a mosaic monument to a mistress of deceit."
Russia Beyond the Headlines
"An astoundingly unbelievable life well retold in this gripping new biography. Well written, too. The book’s account of the Lockhart Affair is particularly fascinating, recreating the paranoid, anti-Western world that was Soviet Russia in the late 19-teens and early 1920s."
"The authors draw on diaries, correspondence, and newly released files to create a powerful study that attracts sympathy toward their subject. It also produces a great snapshot of life in Russia during the collapse of the czarist regime through the early part of the Joseph Stalin era. Recommended for fans of espionage and strong-willed women as well as biography connoisseurs."
"A fast-paced story of European intrigue, featuring an enigmatic, strong-willed woman who married twice and whose lovers included Alexander Kerensky, Maxim Gorky, and H.G. Wells.... Moura’s survival story is fascinating."
"An attempt to introduce the world to a female spy far more successful than Mata Hari and just as captivating.... Intriguing."
"A Very Dangerous Woman pulls together all the chimerical threads of Moura’s life into a well-written and carefully annotated biography that often reads like a romantic thriller with photos of all the key real-life characters. I’d recommend it to anyone, especially those interested in the Russian Revolution, its soiled aftermath, or the elusive Moura.”
Historical Novels Review
"An absorbing and colourful account of the individuals and events that changed the world in the first half of the twentieth century."
Susan Ottaway, author Sisters, Secrets and Sacrifice: The True Story of WWII Special Agents Eileen and Jacqueline Nearne
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