• Born:
  • Died:
  • Birthplace: Ambala, India
  • Best known as:

    British "Master Spy" and Soviet double-agent

Kim Philby Biography

Name at birth: Harold Adrian Russell Philby

The privileged son of a British diplomat, Harold "Kim" Philby became one of the most famous spies of the 20th century when he defected to the Soviet Union in 1963 after a career in British intelligence. A student at Cambridge in the 1930s, Philby was drawn to Marxist ideas and was a member of what came to be known as "The Cambridge Spies" -- Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean and Anthony Blunt. Burgess, Maclean and Philby were apparently recruited in the 1930s to be Soviet spies, possibly by Blunt. In the 1940s they began working for British intelligence, and Philby rose in the ranks to be a respected member of the intelligence community. In 1951, under suspicion of being double agents, Burgess and Maclean disappeared, surfacing in Russia in 1956 as defectors. Philby was questioned and accused of being "the Third Man," the one who warned Burgess and Maclean to flee as investigations closed in, but he was never officially charged. In 1963 Philby defected to the Soviet Union, and in his 1968 book My Silent War he claimed to have been a "double-agent" for the KGB, the Soviet spy agency, for nearly two decades. He lived the rest of his life in Russia, where he died in 1988, a recipient of the Order of Lenin and an official Soviet hero.

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