The Secret History of Spy Letters

The book A Private Spy: The Letters of John le Carré has just been released in the UK. We’ll be taking a look at that book once it’s released in the US in December, but this is a perfect time to take a look at the usage of the humble letter in espionage.

We talk about the history of the letter, Cicero’s letters, letterlocking, Cabinet Noirs and Cold War spy love letters. All that and much more in this episode.

I’m pleased to welcome back to the show critic and author Jeremy Duns.

We’ll return in a few weeks with part 2 and talk letters in spy fiction and the future of the letter in espionage.

Jeremy’s twitter – @JeremyDuns

Jeremy’s Website –

Jeff’s site –

Jeff’s twitter – @spywrite


The first spy letter? – History of letter writing From the earliest period to the fifth century by William Roberts

The Delivery and Confidentiality of Cicero’s Letters by John Nicholson


To the Letter by Simon Garfield

Letterlocking –

Cheri Ami – Smithsonian

Operation Columba by Gordon Corera

Robert Hanssen affidavit

Operation Lemon Aid

Mitrokhin Archive – Wikipedia

Vladimir Putin Pigeon GIFfrom Vladimir Putin GIFs

And of course, the debunking.

Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Google Podcasts Listen on Spotify RSS Feed

Sound Effect from Pixabay

Sound Effect from Pixabay

Sound Effect from Pixabay

Sound Effect from Pixabay

Sound Effect from Pixabay

Sound Effect from Pixabay

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