Cam­bridge ex­hi­bi­tion lifts cov­ers on world of spies

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD -

CAM­BRIDGE: The shad­owy world of es­pi­onage is dragged into the spot­light at a new ex­hi­bi­tion from the Bri­tish uni­ver­sity which gave the world Cold War dou­ble agents Philby, Burgess and Blunt.

Cam­bridge Uni­ver­sity Li­brary ( will use re­cently de­clas­si­fied doc­u­ments and “top-se­cret” ma­te­rial from its archives in its free ex­hi­bi­tion Un­der Cov­ers: Doc­u­ment­ing Spies to ex­am­ine the art of es­pi­onage from Bib­li­cal times to the mod­ern era.

The show draws on per­sonal archives, printed books, of­fi­cial pub­lic­ity ma­te­rial, pop­u­lar jour­nals, spe­cial­ist pho­to­graphs and maps, mostly from the uni­ver­sity li­brary’s col­lec­tions, to il­lus­trate a few of the ways in which spies have been doc­u­mented through the cen­turies.

“ Un­der Cov­ers brings to­gether an as­ton­ish­ing va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent kinds of ma­te­rial, all throw­ing light on the busi­ness of un­cov­er­ing and keep­ing se­crets,” uni­ver­sity li­brar­ian Anne Jarvis said of the show which runs un­til July.

Ex­hibits range from a 12th­cen­tury man­u­script re­count­ing the story of King Al­fred the Great en­ter­ing a Dan­ish camp dis­guised as a harpist to a Soviet-era map of East Anglia.

John Ker’s 18th-cen­tury “li­cence to spy”, granted by Queen Anne, shows the un­der­world of spies was well es­tab­lished long be­fore James Bond earned his fic­tional li­cence to kill.

Other high­lights in­clude pa­pers used by a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee in­ves­ti­gat­ing the At­ter­bury Plot to cap­ture the royal fam­ily in the 1720s, a tele­gram from the Bri­tish spy­mas­ter of the day con­firm­ing news of Rasputin’s mur­der, and let­ters to Prime Min­is­ter Stan­ley Bald­win from Lord Cur­zon and Win­ston Churchill, only de­clas­si­fied in 2007.

In­censed at be­ing de­nied ac­cess to in­ter­cepted Ja­panese tele­grams al­ready seen by more ju­nior per­son­nel, Churchill, then chan­cel­lor of the ex­che­quer, wrote to Prime Min­is­ter Bald­win in Fe­bru­ary 1925.

A 1985 Soviet map of east­ern Eng­land shows English towns and cities in Cyril­lic script. The Soviet mil­i­tary pro­duced such maps more than 50 years be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter the Cold War.

Classified as se­cret, they were un­known out­side the Soviet mil­i­tary ma­chine un­til the break-up of the USSR – when they be­came avail­able on the open mar­ket. – Reuters

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