Kim Philby life and biography

Kim Philby picture, image, poster

Kim Philby biography

Date of birth : 1912-01-01
Date of death : 1988-05-11
Birthplace : Ambala, Punjab, British India
Nationality : British
Category : Politics
Last modified : 2011-06-09
Credited as : British intelligence agent, spy, Hero of the Soviet Union

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Harold Adrian Russell "Kim" Philby was a high-ranking member of British intelligence who worked as a spy for and later defected to the Soviet Union. A communist, he served as an NKVD and KGB operative.

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.


In February 1934, Philby married Alice (Litzi) Friedmann, an Austrian communist whom he had met in Vienna. They subsequently moved to England; however, as Philby assumed the role of a fascist sympathiser, they separated. Litzi lived in Paris before returning to London for the duration of the Second World War; she ultimately settled in East Germany.

While working as a correspondent in Spain, Philby began an affair with Frances Doble, Lady Lindsay-Hogg, an actress and aristocratic divorcée who was an admirer of Francisco Franco and Adolf Hitler. They travelled together in Spain through August 1939.

In 1940, he began living with Aileen Furse in London. Their first three children, Josephine, John, and Dudley Thomas, were born between 1941 and 1943. In 1946, Philby finally arranged a formal divorce from Litzi; he and Aileen were married on 25 September 1946, while Aileen was pregnant with their fourth child, Miranda. Their fifth child, Harry George, was born in 1950. Aileen suffered from psychiatric problems, which grew more severe during the period of poverty and suspicion following the flight of Burgess and Maclean. She lived separately from Philby, settling with their children in Crowborough while he lived first in London and later in Beirut. Weakened by alcoholism and frequent sickness, she died of influenza in December 1957.

In 1956, Philby began an affair with Eleanor Brewer, the wife of New York Times correspondent Sam Pope Brewer. Following Eleanor's divorce, the two married in January 1959. After Philby defected to the Soviet Union in 1963, Eleanor visited him in Moscow; in November 1964, following a visit to America, she returned, intending to settle permanently. However, in her absence, Philby had begun an affair with Donald Maclean's wife, Melinda. He and Eleanor divorced, and she departed Moscow in May 1965.

Melinda left Maclean, and briefly lived with Philby in Moscow; however, in 1968 she returned to Maclean.

In 1971, Philby married Rufina Ivanova Pukhova, a Russo-Polish woman twenty years his junior, with whom he lived until his death in 1988.

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