Edith Tudor-Hart, a brilliant talent scout

Edith Tudor-Hart (1908−1973), Austrian designer and photographer, Soviet illegal intelligence agent

Edith Tudor-Hart (née Susсhitzky) was born in 1908 in Vienna into the family of a bookshop owner. She studied at the Bauhaus, a popular design and architecture school that produced many famous modern artists and architects over the years. In the 1920s, the Bauhaus was known as a hotbed of leftist ideas, and Edith became a dedicated communist during her student years. It was here that she was recruited by Soviet intelligence, launching a long and distinguished career.

Since childhood Edith was interested in photography. Her skills as a trained photographer came in handy for her intelligence work, which involved copying secret documents for Moscow.

In 1925, Edith met the British physician Alex Tudor-Hart in Vienna. Like many English aristocrats of the time, Alex sympathised with the Communists and the Soviet Union. In 1933, Alex and Edith married and settled in the UK.

In London, Edith continued her photography career: her pictures were in demand with British magazines and newspapers. Pretty soon she gained renown as a master of incisive social photographs depicting the lives of ordinary British people. The subjects of her photographs included workers, the poor of London’s slums, and disabled children.

Edith opened her own photography studio in London, which became very popular, specialising in children’s portraits.

In early 1934, Edith Tudor-Hart joined the London "illegal" rezidentura of the NKVD Foreign Department. One of Edith’s tasks was to scout for young political activists who shared Soviet ideals. One of her most significant contributions was spotting Kim Philby’s enormous potential.

They met in 1934 Kim’s wife, Litzi Friedmann, and Edith Tudor-Hart were longtime friends from their time in Vienna. Kim impressed Edith with his political knowledge, drive and connections in British high society, and she spoke about him to the deputy head of the "illegal" Soviet intelligence service Arnold Deutsch, whom she also knew well from the Vienna underground.

Later, Edith acted as the liaison for Guy Burgess and Anthony Blunt for several

years. Her work in 1939−1940 was of particular importance, when the London rezidentura suspended its operations.

She survived the high-profile disclosures of the early 1950s, which forced Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess to flee to the USSR. Despite the existence of incriminating evidence, the British did not arrest her, although she had to withstand some tough interrogations.

Edith Tudor-Hart later lived in Wales and died at the age of 64 after a serious illness.