A Very Dangerous Woman review – an enjoyably sensationalist biography


This post is by Ian Thomson from Books | The Guardian


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The life of Moura Budberg – aristocratic spy and ‘remarkable liar’ – is hard to pin down, but there is no lack of colour

In 1934, Graham Greene spent some time in the Estonian capital of Tallinn “vainly seeking a brothel” that (he records in his memoir Ways of Escape) had been recommended to him by the “very dangerous” Maria Ignatievna Zakrevskaya, later Countess Benckendorff and Baroness Budberg, a Russo-Baltic exile living in London and mistress of, among others, HG Wells and Maxim Gorky. Moura, as she was affectionately known, had misled Greene: the brothel turned out to be an apothecary’s. In 1965, after another disappointment, Greene wrote to Moura at her address in Cromwell Road in London: “My dear Moura, You know that I love you very much, so you must forgive my telling you that you are being a bloody nuisance.”

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