31: Edinburgh Spy Week 2018 with Penny Fielding

Edinburgh Spy Week 2018


On Episode 31 of the Spybrary Spy Podcast, host Shane Whaley discovers more about Edinburgh Spy Week 2018 with one of the organisers, Professor Penny Fielding.

Edinburgh Spy Week 2018 -Professor Fielding makes her debut on Spybrary Spy Podcast to tell us more!
Edinburgh Spy Week 2018 -Professor Fielding makes her debut on Spybrary Spy Podcast to tell us more!

Penny reveals a stellar line up of speakers  who will be starring at the fifth Edinburgh Spy Week.  Can't make Edinburgh? This interview is still worth listening to you as Shane finds out more about Prof Fielding's love for spy literature and movies.

It’s fun being a podcaster. I just got to chat for over an hour with an English Literature Professor all about spy books. Not my usual Saturday afternoon company

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. They bring together creative practitioners and academic researchers to talk about books and ideas in public and accessible ways.


These are some of the topics we cover on Episode 32:


  • What exactly is Edinburgh Spy Week 2018?- When is it?
    – Where is it?
    – What’s in the programme?
    – Who is speaking?
    – what’s the cost?
    – how can people register?
  • Penny shares with us the origins of Edinburgh Spy Week and how it got started.
  • What is Penny's  favourite session since the inaugural Edinbrugh Spy Week
  • How Professor Fielding become interested in espionage books and movies.
  • Why is spy fiction so male-dominated (both in authors, and in readership) as opposed to a genre such as mystery?
  • What does Professor Fielding think of the female characters in John Le Carre's spy novels?
  • Which spy authors does she think portrays female characters credibly? Which spy book does she think has the best written female characters?
  • If Spybrary could arrange for Prof. Fielding to meet John Le Carre over a cup of tea in Cornwall what would she ask him?
  • As an English Literature Professor and the organiser of Edinburgh Spy Week 2018 what does she feel is the gold standard of spy fiction writing?
  • As a fan of Le Carre's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy what is her take on the tv adaptation of the novel and the movie version.
  • If she could be a character in a spy book or movie, who would she choose?

And Much Much More! (Including, as you would expect from an English Lit Professor tons of book recommendations!)

Edinburgh Spy Week 2018 Line Up

Monday 16 April       6.00

Spy Stories Now: Interview with Jeremy Duns and Aly Munroe

In a celebration of Spy Week’s 5th Birthday, two of our favourite authors from previous years return to talk about spies in contemporary fiction, television and film.

Venue: 50 George Square: room 1.06

Tuesday 17th April    6.00

Muriel Spark’s Secret World: Simon Cooke, Victoria Stewart and Patricia Waugh

Part of Spark 100 : murielspark100.com

Leading academics discuss wartime Muriel Spark’s work in MI6’s ‘Black Propaganda’ Unit, and how we can read her novels in relation to this.

Venue: National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge

Wednesday 18th April

5.30 Mark Laity: Spooked: Spy Stories and the Loss of Trust

Mark Laity is the Director of Communications at SHAPE, NATO's Military HQ. As BBC Defence Correspondent, he reported from the frontlines of many wars including the break-up of Yugoslavia and the 1991 Gulf War. 

Venue: 50 George Square: room 1.06

Thursday 19th April   6.30

Writing Spy Lives: Stephen Dorril and Andrew Lownie

Two leading historians and biographers discuss what it means to write about men and women whose profession it is to conceal their identities. How do biographers address the secret lives of spies, and the lives of those who know them?

Blackwell’s Bookshop, North Bridge


Friday 20th April        6.00

Spies and Detectives: Denise Mina and Mick Herron

Spy Week ends with a thrilling encounter between a crime writer and an espionage author! Two of Britain’s most acclaimed writers in these genres discuss the differences and similarities between spy and detective fiction.

Venue tba

Please Check the Edinburgh Spy Week 2018 for details.

Spybrary Spy Podcast Discussion Group
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Resources and Spy Books/Spy Movies/Spy Author mentioned on Episode 32 all about Edinburgh Spy Week 2018


Edinburgh Spy Week 2018 (website to come.)

Edinburgh Spy Week 2018 Official Twitter

Edinburgh Spy Week 2017

Edinburgh Spy Week 2018 Facebook Page (check here for updates whilst Spy Week website is being constructed.)

Edinburgh University

Professor Penny Fielding

Some of the Speakers at Edinburgh Spy Week 2018 include:

Jeremy Duns
– Hear Jeremy Duns on Spybrary Spy Podcast Episode 11

Aly Monroe

Mark Laity

Mick Herron (author of Slow Horses)

Andrew Lownie (Author of Stalin's Englishman – The Lives of Guy Burgess.)

Stephen Dorril

Denise Mina

Some of the spy books/spy movies we mentioned/reference during this fascinating conversation with Professor Fielding.

Muriel Spark Autobiography
-More on Muriel Spark and spying

Mandelbaum Gate -Muriel Spark

Stella Rimmington Novels

Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen

Mick Herron Jackson Lamb Series

Restless – William Boyd

The Secret Agent – Joseph Conrad

Under Western Eyes – Joseph Conrad

Northlight – A Quiller Mission – Adam Hall

The Three Hostages – John Buchan

Eric Ambler Novels

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – John Le Carre

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold – John Le Carre

The Looking Glass War – John Le Carre

And many many more!


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