Archive Homepage

Guy Burgess at the BBC | The early career of the Cambridge spy

About this collection

Guy Francis de Moncy Burgess was one of the Cambridge Spies, the most notorious British espionage ring of the 20th century. He was an archetypal establishment figure, educated at Eton and Cambridge, working at the Foreign Office, and counting many friends in high places. However Burgess had converted to communism in the 1930s and was eventually uncovered as a Soviet spy.

This collection of documents looks at the young Burgess' role at the heart of another British institution, the BBC, whilst the Cambridge Spies collection looks at the scandals that ensued when one-by-one the spies' covers were blown.

Guy Burgess at the BBC Collection

Letter of recommendation from Cambridge University.

Letter of recommendation from Cambridge University

WRITTEN 1935
2 PAGES

The relative merits of three Cambridge graduates are assessed by the university.

go to Letter of recommendation from Cambridge University
Memo quoting a recommendation for Burgess.

Memo quoting a recommendation for Burgess

WRITTEN 1935
1 PAGE

A Cambridge don provides a reference for Guy Burgess

go to Memo quoting a recommendation for Burgess
A letter of reference for Burgess.

A letter of reference for Burgess

WRITTEN 1936
1 PAGE

An astute assessment of Burgess' strengths and weaknesses by his Cambridge University tutor.

go to A letter of reference for Burgess
An internal memo about staff photographs.

An internal memo about staff photographs

WRITTEN 1937
1 PAGE

Burgess is pursued for a photograph by an exasperated BBC administrator.

go to An internal memo about staff photographs
Letter from Guy Burgess to Anthony Blunt.

Letter from Guy Burgess to Anthony Blunt

WRITTEN 1938
1 PAGE

Burgess, as a BBC producer, advises Blunt about speaking on the radio

go to Letter from Guy Burgess to Anthony Blunt
A memo from Burgess about Winston Churchill.

A memo from Burgess about Winston Churchill

WRITTEN 1938
1 PAGE

Burgess recounts his conversation with a mistrustful Churchill.

go to A memo from Burgess about Winston Churchill
Letter to Burgess from the BBC.

Letter to Burgess from the BBC

WRITTEN 1939
1 PAGE

Burgess fails to clear his desk when he leaves the BBC.

go to Letter to Burgess from the BBC
Memo from Burgess querying his salary.

Memo from Burgess querying his salary

WRITTEN 1941
1 PAGE

Burgess forgets to sign his BBC staff contract and is unhappy with the salary offered.

go to Memo from Burgess querying his salary
A report on a disturbance at the Langham hotel.

The Langham incident - A report on a disturbance at the hotel

WRITTEN 1941
1 PAGE

The case of the locked door.

go to The Langham incident - A report on a disturbance at the hotel
The Langham incident - The response from the BBC Management.

The Langham incident - The response from the BBC Management

WRITTEN 1941
1 PAGE

A concerned Director of Talks reports on his handling of Burgess and the locked door incident.

go to The Langham incident - The response from the BBC Management
The Langham incident - The response from Burgess.

The Langham incident - The response from Burgess

WRITTEN 1941
2 PAGES

Burgess gives his version of events in the case of the locked door.

go to The Langham incident - The response from Burgess
An expenses claim sheet and covering note from Burgess.

An expenses claim sheet and covering note from Burgess

WRITTEN c. 1943
3 PAGES

Burgess insists on travelling first class and claims for visiting the House of Commons.

go to An expenses claim sheet and covering note from Burgess
Internal memo querying a Burgess expense claim.

Internal memo querying a Burgess expense claim

WRITTEN 1943
1 PAGE

A revealing insight into Burgess' working day from an exasperated administrator.

go to Internal memo querying a Burgess expense claim
Memo about Burgess and 'The Week in Westminster'

Burgess and 'The Week in Westminster'

WRITTEN 1943
1 PAGE

Alarm is expressed at Burgess' profligate use of BBC funds for entertaining MPs.

go to Burgess and 'The Week in Westminster'
Memo about Burgess' expenses.

Memo about Burgess' expenses

WRITTEN 1943
1 PAGE

'MPs are expensive to entertain.'

go to Memo about Burgess' expenses
Memo re Burgess and first-class travel.

Memo re Burgess and first-class travel

WRITTEN 1943
1 PAGE

Burgess' case for travelling first class is disputed.

go to Memo re Burgess and first-class travel
Memo from Burgess pursuing expenses claim.

Memo from Burgess pursuing expenses claim

WRITTEN 1943
1 PAGE

Burgess persists with his claim for first-class travel.

go to Memo from Burgess pursuing expenses claim
Letter from the Foreign Office to the BBC about Burgess.

Letter from the Foreign Office to the BBC about Burgess

WRITTEN 1944
1 PAGE

His country needs him: Burgess is required for essential war work.

go to Letter from the Foreign Office to the BBC about Burgess
The BBC considers its response to the Foreign Office about Burgess.

The BBC considers its response to the Foreign Office about Burgess

WRITTEN 1944
1 PAGE

The head of the Talks Department is reluctant to let Burgess go.

go to The BBC considers its response to the Foreign Office about Burgess
Resignation memo from Burgess.

Resignation memo from Burgess

WRITTEN 1944
1 PAGE

Guy Burgess plans to leave the BBC to join the Foreign Office.

go to Resignation memo from Burgess
Memo to the Director General about Burgess' resignation.

Memo to the Director General about Burgess' resignation

WRITTEN 1944
2 PAGES

The manner and timing of Burgess' departure from the BBC causes concern.

go to Memo to the Director General about Burgess' resignation
A note for Burgess' staff record.

A note for Burgess' staff record

WRITTEN 1944
1 PAGE

A summary of Burgess' strengths, weaknesses and suitability for re-employment.

go to A note for Burgess' staff record
Memo about Burgess' library books.

Memo about Burgess' library books

WRITTEN 1951
1 PAGE

The BBC may have uncovered a clue to Burgess' recent movements.

go to Memo about Burgess' library books
Record of a telephone conversation between the BBC and the Foreign Office.

Record of a telephone conversation between the BBC and the Foreign Office

WRITTEN 1956
2 PAGES

The BBC and the Foreign Office are called to account for employing Burgess.

go to Record of a telephone conversation between the BBC and the Foreign Office

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.