- Christopher Marlowe, who is thought to have worked as a royal spy, which might explain his mysterious murder in a tavern
- Aphra Behn, one of my heroes (obviously!) who worked as a spy for Charles II in Antwerp in 1666, before turning to playwriting
- Samuel Beckett, who worked heroically as a courier for the French Resistance
- Vaclav Havel (another of my heroes, obviously!) whose plays, other writings, and political activism helped defeat Communism in Czechoslovakia
Photo from Wikipedia.
And I've always been intrigued by the notion of spying, à la Behn and Marlowe. They say Behn's spying contact, William Scott, was her lover--I hear that and I start imagining a scenario straight out of Hitchcock's Notorious, one of my all-time favorite movies. It also might be the most realistic espionage film ever made: it has no wacky James Bond gadgets, no superhumanly strong and intelligent spies, no shadowy government organizations. Just three heartbreakingly real and flawed people, and the shadowy mysteries of the human heart.
But of course, even if its emotions run deeper and its characters are more human than in a typical spy film, it's still a glossy '40s Hollywood product, and more exciting than anything I am ever likely to experience. Which brings me back to the beginning: what ever happened to the time when being a writer meant being adventurous...meant being notorious?