“A breathtaking biography.”
“… a truly outstanding biography.”
Winner of the Orwell Prize for political writing 2002
Royal Society of Literature, W.H. Heinemann award
Chosen by New York Times Book Review as one of the seven best books of 2002
Macmillan · 608 pp · 2001
When Anthony Blunt died in 1983, he was a man about whom almost anything could be – and was – said. As Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures and Director of the Courtauld Institute, Blunt’s position was assured until his exposure in 1979 left his reputation in tatters. Miranda Carter’s brilliantly insightful biography gives us a vivid portrait of a human paradox. Blunt’s totally discrete lives, with their permanent contradictions, serve to remind us that there is no one key to any human being’s identity: we are all a series of conflicting selves.
As well as winning the Orwell Prize for Political Writing and the Royal Society of Literature, W.H. Heinemann Award, Anthony Blunt was shortlisted for the Whitbread Biography Prize, the Guardian First Book Award, the Duff Cooper Prize, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger Award for Non-Fiction.
Highly impressive… sensitive and compelling… Miranda Carter has written a richly informative biography which, in the end, does not fall into the trap of tout comprendre, c’est tout pardonner – not only because she is not seeking to pardon him, but also because there is something here that is still quite impossible to comprehend.
Noel Malcolm · Sunday Telegraph
No one could fail to be fascinated by Miranda Carter’s masterly biography of Anthony Blunt – cold war history all the more powerful for being written by someone too young to have lived through it. I approached it thinking I knew everything and quickly finding I understood nothing.
Edmund White · Guardian
It is a measure of the brilliance of Miranda Carter’s biography that, once Blunt’s ‘sheer usefulness as a hate figure’ has been discussed, we are left feeling considerable sympathy for her subject… absolutely first class.
[A] sympathetic, expertly paced and altogether enthralling biography… Astonishingly assured and accomplished. I haven’t enjoyed a biography so much since Judith Thurman’s Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette.
Washington Post Book World
[An] excellent case study… Blunt’s own evolution [as a spy]… is almost a caricature of the genre, and it is Carter’s achievement in Anthony Blunt: His Lives to have promoted it above the commonplace.
New York Times Book Review
An incredible feat of unmasking and revelation; the result is a meticulous, judicious, and ultimately moving account of Blunt’s life… A profound study.
What none of the reviews I read quite conveyed is that this book is itself a work of art, quite one of the best biographies of our time.
A.N. Wilson · Daily Telegraph
A compelling biography… Miranda Carter’s skill at scouring the different compartments of Blunt’s life is deeply impressive
Julian Barnes · New Yorker
enthralling… this is a truly outstanding biography, lucid, penetrating and cool, both uncensorious and unillusioned.
Shrewd… well and sympathetically told.
New York Review of Books
[An] insightful new biography.