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A Very Dangerous Woman

The Lives, Loves and Lies of Russia’s Most Seductive Spy

Deborah McDonald Jeremy Dronfield

Moura Budberg: spy, adventurer, charismatic seductress and mistress of two of the century’s greatest writers, the Russian aristocrat Baroness Moura Budberg was born in 1892 to indulgence, pleasure and selfishness. But after she met the British diplomat and secret agent Robert Bruce Lockhart, she sacrificed everything for love, only to be betrayed.

When Lockhart arrived in Revolutionary Russia in 1918, his official mission was Britain’s envoy to the new Bolshevik government, yet his real assignment was to create a network of agents and plot the downfall of Lenin. Lockhart soon got to know Moura and they began a passionate affair, even though Moura was spying on him for the Bolsheviks. But when Lockhart’s plot unravelled, she would forsake everything in an attempt to protect him from Lenin’s secret police. Fleeing to a life of exile in England and taking a string of new lovers, including Maxim Gorky and H. G. Wells, Moura later spied for Stalin and for Britain amidst the web of scandal surrounding the Cambridge spies. Through all this she clung to the hope that Lockhart would finally return to her.

Grippingly narrated, this is the first biography of Moura Budberg to use the full range of previously unexamined letters, diaries and documents. An incredible true story of passion, espionage and double crossing that encircled the globe, A Very Dangerous Woman brings her extraordinary world vividly to life with dramatic resonances to rival the most sensational novel.

  • Publication date: February 4, 2016
  • ISBN: 9781780747972
  • RRP: £12.99
  • Pages: 416
  • Publication date: May 7, 2015
  • ISBN: 9781780747088
  • RRP: £20.00
  • Pages: 416
  • Publication date: May 7, 2015
  • ISBN: 9781780747095
  • RRP: £4.99
  • Pages: 416


'Riveting biography…of [Moura Budberg's] remarkable life…Dangerous woman, indeed'.

Independent on Sunday

‘An extraordinarily complex story based on a fabulous cache of rich material… the end result really is an example of truth being stranger than fiction’

Good Book Guide

'Hard to go wrong with Moura's combustible life, and the authors relish her excesses'.


‘McDonald and Dronfield’s summaries of events during the revolutionary period make a coherent narrative from a bafflingly complex series of events’

The Guardian

‘A rollicking good read’

Country Life

‘A thrilling new biography of baroness and double agent Moura Budberg…. Brave and multi-faceted, a mosaic monument to a mistress of deceit.’

Russia Beyond the Headlines

The tale of Baroness Moura Budberg is a splendid one… entertaining and well-researched.

Dr. Mark Galeotti, Clinical Professor of Global Affairs, New York University

‘There is an echo of foxy, seductive Scarlett O'Hara about Moura Budberg’


‘This book could read like a thriller, yet the thorough research here provides a weightier feast… impressive… alive… a well-researched and well-ordered biography’


‘Conjures up a vivid and alluring version of old Russia’ 

Mail on Sunday

‘[The authors] have done a sterling job of piecing together the pieces of this mysterious, peripatetic life… they are very clear about the limits of what can and cannot be known from the extant evidence’

Daily Telegraph

'A fast-paced story of European intrigue, featuring an enigmatic, strong-willed woman [whose] survival story is fascinating.'

Publishers Weekly

Deborah McDonald

Deborah McDonald is the author of Clara Collet 1860-1948: An Educated Working Woman and The Prince, His Tutor and the Ripper: The Evidence Linking James Kenneth Stephen to the Whitechapel Murders. She lives on the Isle of Wight.

Author page

Jeremy Dronfield

Jeremy Dronfield is a writer, biographer and noveliist. 

Author page

More books by Deborah McDonald

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