Clevedon author highlights MI5’s secret war against the arts

Richard Knott, Clevedon-based author of The Secret War Against The Arts

Richard Knott, Clevedon-based author of The Secret War Against The Arts - Credit: Archant

A Clevedon author and former actor with the Royal Shakespeare Company has written a novel highlighting MI5’s targeting of left-wing writers and artists from 1936–1956.

History scholar Richard Knott, who has also worked as a teacher, penned The Secret War Against the Arts, in light of previously secret files, being made available in The National Archives.

The files indicate the extent of MI5’s surveillance of British writers and artists in the Spanish Civil War and the consequences for those being watched.

The book focuses on a significant number of writers – including George Orwell, and artists who were either members of the communist party of Great Britain, or were suspected of being sympathisers.

Speaking on behalf of publishers Pen and Sword, Charlie Simpson, said: “The book is a unique account of a dramatic period of modern history, revealing how MI5 was systematic, unrelenting and uncompromising in its pursuit of artists and writers throughout the period; failing to see the disturbing treachery of others.”

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