Edinburgh espionage fans gear up for big spy event

Dame Muriel Sparks, author.  For S2 feature.  1.3.04'pic Graham Jepson
Dame Muriel Sparks, author. For S2 feature. 1.3.04'pic Graham Jepson
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EAGER espionage fans will be in double-O heaven from Monday - as the Capital’s Spy Week gets under way.

Scientists at Edinburgh University will be on a mission to tell stories of double agents, code breakers and surveillance.

Also in the spotlight is a focus on Muriel Spark - the acclaimed Edinburgh-born author who worked for MI6 before embarking on her literary career.

Professor Penny Fielding, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures, said: “We are delighted to work with other cultural bodies in Edinburgh to bring the very best contemporary spy writers to Edinburgh for Spy Week’s fifth anniversary.

“Edinburgh Spy Week is a unique public event that focuses on espionage fiction and film and the ways in which secrecy and spying run through our history and culture.”

The Muriel Spark discussion at the National Library of Scotland is part of a year of events marking the centenary of her birth.

Spy Week’s fifth anniversary is celebrated in an opening debate at the University about the role of spy fiction today.

Award-winning spy novelists Jeremy Duns and Edinburgh-based Aly Monroe will explore the changing role of the spy in fiction, television and film. In another event, a leading intelligence expert will consider the uneasiness about secrecy and conspiracy in the contemporary world.

Mark Laity, Director of Communications at Nato’s military headquarters, SHAPE, will talk about contemporary responses to surveillance culture in an event at the University.

Leading historians and biographers Stephen Dorril and Andrew Lownie will dig into the secret lives of spies at Blackwell’s Bookshop.

A final event explores the differences between detective stories and spy fiction.

Award-winning novelists Mick Herron and Denise Mina will talk about mysteries and conspiracies at St Cecilia’s Hall in Niddry Street.

Screenings at Edinburgh Filmhouse will present big screen adaptations of movies including classic sci-fi thriller The Boys from Brazil.

Also showing will be the first Taiwanese-language spy film, The Best Secret Agent, a remake of a 1945 movie of the same name, which caused a sensation in Shanghai.

All talks at the University, Blackwell’s and the National Library of Scotland are free but must be booked in advance via Eventbrite.

The week is organised by the University of Edinburgh in partnership with the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh Filmhouse and Blackwell’s Bookshop.

Dr David Sorfa from Film Studies at the University of Edinburgh said: “Spies on film and television have been a constant favourite and this year’s Spy Week film programme at Filmhouse explores issues of conspiracy and confusion.

“We are particularly excited to present the first UK screening of the 1964 spy thriller, The Best Secret Agent, which has been likened to a Taiwanese 007 film.”