College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Spy Week events uncover world of espionage

The intriguing world of state secrets and spies will be spotlighted in a festival of film and fiction organised by the University.

The life and times of Maxwell Knight, the legendary ‘M’ of MI5, and the role of modern spy agencies are among the topics to be debated by celebrated spy writers and intelligence experts. 

The portrayal of spies on television will also be discussed at three drop-in events.

Distinguished panels

The annual Edinburgh Spy Week event runs from Monday 17 April 17 to Saturday 22 April 2017.

Award-winning spy novelist Aly Monroe will explore the changing role of the spy in fiction. Drawing on her own Peter Cotton series of spy novels set in the 1940s.

She will discuss writing espionage fiction that imagines the secret undercurrents of history.

Former MI5 officer Annie Machon will talk about the inner workings of governments, intelligence agencies and the media.

She will examine the need for increased openness and accountability in both public and private sectors.

Film series

Screenings at Edinburgh Filmhouse will present big screen adaptations of John le Carré’s novels including The Looking Glass War and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Prize-winning historian and intelligence expert Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones, will pull back the curtain on the story of surveillance in Britain and the US, from the detective agencies of the late 19th century to ‘wikileaks’ in the 21st.

Historian Niall Whelehan and Spy Week director Penny Fielding will talk about the Irish Nationalist bombing campaign in Britain in the 1880s. They will discuss the causes and effects of the campaign and how these were reflected in fiction of the day.

All talks at the University and the National Library of Scotland are free but must be booked in advance via Eventbrite.

Celebrating spy fiction and film

Spy Week will celebrate and focus on espionage fiction and film and the ways in which secrecy and spying run through our history and culture. We have worked with other cultural bodies in Edinburgh to bring the very best contemporary spy writers to Edinburgh.”

Professor Penny FieldingSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures

Edinburgh Spy Week is organised by the University of Edinburgh in partnership with the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh Filmhouse and Blackwell’s Bookshop.

Find more about the Spy Week