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Anna Wolkoff (1902-73)

In 1913, the St Petersburg-born Wolkoff moved to England, where her father worked at the Russian Embassy. Besides being close to the Tsar and Tsarina, her parents had strong ties to the British royal family. After an abortive stint as an architecture student, Wolkoff’s considerable artistic gifts were poured into haute couture fashion. Her clients included Wallis Simpson, future Duchess of Windsor. During the 1930s, Wolkoff’s stylish outfits regularly adorned magazines such as Vogue, the highlight being a Cecil Beaton photo-shoot. Like many other Russians exiled in London by the Communist take-over, she embraced fascism, her anti-Semitism nourished by the misguided notion that Judaism and Communism were synonymous. 

Copyright Surrey Heath Museum   ···  

Max Knight (1900-68)

A former paint salesman, Whitehall clerk andprep school sports master, Knight was a superficially avuncular man with an eccentric range of interests. These encompassed natural history, keeping exoticanimals, playing jazz and writing well-received crime thrillers. He relished telling the story of how he used to take his pet bear-pub for a walk round the streets of Chelsea. By the late 1930s he had established himself as a brilliant MI5 spy-hunter who, with the same patience that he studied bird and animal behaviour, arranged for his agents to infiltrate target groups. Prior to his investigation of Anna Wolkoff and Tyler Kent, his most notable success had been against a Soviet spy-ring that was stealing British military secrets. 

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Tyler Kent (1911-88)

Born in Manchuria, where his father ran the U.S. Consulate, Kent’s exceptional gifts as a linguist were encouraged by an itinerant childhood. Following a prep school and Ivy League education, which nourished his intellectual arrogance, he landed a job at the American Embassy in Moscow. His family’s comparative poverty, along with his extravagance and sense of grievance against his employers, appear to have provided the motivation for his decision to sell U.S. secrets to the Soviets. 

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