Among the eyebrow-raising tidbits in the first authorized book on the history of the MI6 (Britain’s secret service) is the acknowledgment that the United Kingdom used some of its most celebrated authors as spies, among them Graham Greene and Somerset Maugham. The reason being that they could visit exotic places without suspicion, and write reports filled with pithy witticisms, the Guardian reports:
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The authors Graham Greene, Arthur Ransome, Somerset Maugham, Compton Mackenzie and Malcolm Muggeridge, and the philosopher AJ “Freddie” Ayer, all worked for MI6, Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service admitted for the first time today . They are among the many exotic characters who agreed to spy for Britain, mainly during wartime, who appear in a the first authorized history of MI6.
Greene, Mackenzie, Muggeridge and others who have written about their secret work make it clear they were reluctant spies approached by MI6 because of their access and knowledge of exotic parts of the world.