Henry Hemming is the bestselling author of seven books including M, published as Agent M in North America, the Dolman Travel Award-shortlisted Misadventure in the Middle East and the New York Times bestseller The Ingenious Mr Pyke.
He has written for The Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, The Times, The Economist, FT Magazine, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, is an experienced public speaker and has given interviews on Radio 4’s Today Programme and NBC’s Today Show.
He was born and brought up in London before graduating from Newcastle University, in 2002, with a 1st in History. After university he spent twelve months making and selling paintings across the Middle East, followed by several years working for an art gallery and a theatre production company, and had a brief (and not very successful) career as an artist. He began to write full-time after the release of his first book, in 2007, Misadventure in the Middle East. Today he lives in London with his wife and two children.
Four Shots in the Night: A True Story of Espionage, Murder and Justice in Northern Ireland
The riveting story of how the death of a spy in the IRA led to the biggest murder investigation in British history.
On 26th May 1986, the body of an undercover British agent was found by the side of a muddy lane, with a rope tied around its wrists and tape over each eye. The brutal killing of Frank Hegarty began a decades-long search for justice. In a compulsive blend of investigative journalism and true crime thriller, Henry Hemming exposes the parallel worlds of the IRA and British intelligence through the lives of those inextricably bound up in both.
After his recruitment by British secret intelligence, Frank Hegarty infiltrated IRA circles and became trusted with the most covert operations. But soon Frank would have to make an impossible decision, with devastating and deadly consequences. In 2016 a detective began to investigate the chilling possibility that Frank was murdered by another undercover British agent, known as 'Stakeknife'.
Henry Hemming blends meticulous research with a modern-day investigation into crimes that were hidden away long ago. He highlights the bravery of those who were crucial in ending the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the bloodiest and longest-running conflict in recent British history, and the determination of one detective in his dogged search for the truth.
Our Man in New York: The British Plot to Bring America into the Second World War
A revelatory and wholly fascinating work of history. Superbly researched and written with gripping fluency, this lost secret of World War II espionage finally has its expert chronicler.
This is excellent, surprising and timely. Henry is a proper talent.
This is a fascinating and gripping book, and deserves to be a big hit on both sides of the Atlantic.
In Hemming's sure hands, America's uncertain progress towards direct engagement in the second world war becomes riveting history.
A galloping story that Henry Hemming tells with clarity and aplomb.
Gripping and intoxicating, it unfolds like the best screenplay.
[A] page-turning spy thriller… Fluid, sharp writing, deep research, and a spy network with unparalleled ingenuity provide a snappy read and lots of shockers.
**Published in the US as Agents of Influence: A British Campaign, a Canadian Spy, and the Secret Plot to Bring America Into World War II**
The gripping story of a propaganda campaign like no other: the covert British operation to manipulate American public opinion and bring the US into the Second World War.
When William Stephenson - “our man in New York” - arrived in the United States towards the end of June 1940 with instructions from the head of MI6 to ‘organise’ American public opinion, Britain was on the verge of defeat. Surveys showed that just 14% of the US population wanted to go to war against Nazi Germany. But soon that began to change...
Those campaigning against America's entry into the war, such as legendary aviator Charles Lindbergh, talked of a British-led plot to drag the US into the conflict. They feared that the British were somehow flooding the American media with ‘fake news’, infiltrating pressure groups, rigging opinion polls and meddling in US politics.
These claims were shocking and wild: they were also true.
That truth is revealed here for the first time by bestselling author Henry Hemming, using hitherto private and classified documents, including the diaries of his own grandparents, who were briefly part of Stephenson's extraordinary influence campaign that was later described in the Washington Post as ‘arguably the most effective in history’. Stephenson - who saved the life of Hemming's father - was a flawed maverick, full of contradictions, but one whose work changed the course of the war, and whose story can now be told in full.
M: Maxwell Knight, MI5's Greatest Spymaster
Fascinating [...] Hemming has done a superb job of peeling back the layers covering this most veiled of spies
Henry Hemming has found a peach of a subject [...] Full of new material, fresh interpretations and uncompromising integrity [...] He has managed the great feat of producing a rattling good read that is also a major piece of revisionist history
Compelling […] Hemming has done a wonderful espionage job of his own, scouring obscure files to bring long-hidden agents and their exploits to light
In this excellent biography […] the author has done a terrific job of unscrambling Knight’s muddled life
An engaging and suspenseful biography
Jaw-droppingly revelatory biography of the man who styled himself M long before Ian Fleming thought of it
This is a terrific book, well researched and superbly written
Henry Hemming’s excellent new life of Maxwell Knight […] the most convincing, balanced and intricate biography of this extraordinary figure
Hemming […] delivers a read worthy of Le Carré himself
Lively contribution to a maverick literature
A major new biography […] Through an exhaustive piecing-together of previously secret files, Hemming has not only assembled a full account of Knight’s activities but also reveals for the first time the identities of many of Knight’s agents. It is an exemplary piece of historical sleuthing
Many spy stories are page-turners, but the author proves that the story of one man can be equally thrilling. Hemming has uncovered a man determined not to be known and in so doing, has provided us with delightful reading
Hemming has written a very readable, thoughtful and comprehensive account
** Published in the US as Agent M: The Lives and Spies of MI5's Maxwell Knight**
as a ‘Book of the Year’
in The Times, The Sunday Times and the Daily Mail and as Waterstones Non-Fiction Book of the Month**
Spying is the art of knowing who to trust-and who to betray
Maxwell Knight was a paradox. A jazz obsessive and nature enthusiast (he is the author of the definitive work on how to look after a gorilla), he is seen today as one of MI5's greatest spymasters, a man who did more than any other to break up British fascism during the Second World War – in spite of having once belonged to the British Fascisti himself. He was known to his agents and colleagues simply as M, and was rumoured to be part of the inspiration for the character M in the James Bond series.
Knight became a legendary spymaster despite an almost total lack of qualifications. What set him apart from his peers was a mercurial ability to transform almost anyone into a fearless secret agent. He was the first in MI5 to grasp the potential of training female agents.
M is about more than just one man however. In its pages, Hemming reveals for the first time in print the names and stories of seven men and women recruited by Knight, on behalf of MI5, and then asked to infiltrate the most dangerous political organisations in Britain at that time. Until now, their identities have been kept secret outside MI5. Drawn from every walk of life, they led double lives―often at great personal cost―in order to protect the country they loved. With the publication of this book, it will be possible at last to celebrate the lives of these courageous, selfless individuals.
Drawing on declassified documents, private family archives and interviews with retired MI5 officers as well as the families of MI5 agents, M reveals not just the shadowy world of espionage but a brilliant, enigmatic man at its centre.
Churchill's Iceman: The True Story of Geoffrey Pyke: Genius, Fugitive, Spy
This admirable and thoroughly enjoyable book should rescue a weirdly original and innovative talent from oblivion
Hemming has told his story in a biography that reads wonderfully like an adventure story and looks set to restore to Pyke the fame he deserves
This is a fascinating biography […] Hemming succeeds in celebrating the achievements of this true original
It is as if he had been invented by G. K. Chesterton and given posthumous fame by John le Carré – which underlines the extraordinary accomplishment of his actual biographer Henry Hemming
**Published in the US as The Ingenious Mr. Pyke: Inventor, Fugitive, Spy**
In the World War II era, Geoffrey Pyke was described as one of the world's great minds. An inventor, adventurer and polymath, he was an unlikely hero of both world wars. He earned a fortune on the stock market, founded an influential pre-school, and is seen as the father of the U.S. Special Forces.
In 1942, he convinced Winston Churchill to build an aircraft carrier out of reinforced ice. He escaped from a German WWI prison camp, wrote a bestseller, and aided Republicans in the Spanish Civil War. He even launched a private attempt to avert the outbreak of the Second World War by sending into Nazi Germany a group of pollsters disguised as golfers.
And he may have been a Russian spy.
70 years after his death, Henry Hemming reveals Pyke's astonishing story in full: his brilliance, his flaws, and his life of adventures, ideas, and secrets.
Together: How Small Groups Achieve Big Things
A labour of love by an author enthralled by the societies and their members [...] highly agreeable book [...] cheering thesis.
A wonderful counterblast to the idea that we are becoming ever more lonely. Provocative and well-researched, Together offers a fascinating and very different way of seeing society today.
A very valuable book, lively, instructive, original and full of interesting detail.
In likeable tones, with whimsical historical details and a range of philosophical and sociological references, Hemming tells numerous stories about the power of clubbing together, from the birth of the fans' football club FC United to "the creation of a new druid order" (no one knew who they were, or what they were doing), book groups, beekeepers' associations and the like.
Provocative and timely.
Together is about the extraordinary revival of small groups in Britain today.
What happens when a room full of people decide to work towards the same dream? Why is it that when we come together in small groups we are so much more than the sum of our parts?
From druids to bingo-clubbers, eco-warriors to flash-mobbers, historical re-enactors to bee-keepers, books groups and knitting circles, W.I.s, Young Farmers and the fan-owners of a football club, Together reveals the true story of modern Britain. The country we live in is in fact an extraordinary composition of small groups powered by shared interests and common ideals. Hemming reveals a different way of seeing society, one that recognizes the massive, untapped potential of these hundreds of thousands of small groups, how they work and what they enable us to do that we can't do alone.
Witty and provocative, Together gives us an extraordinary cast of characters, a series of unlikely alliances and most importantly, a vision of what we can achieve Together.
In Search of the English Eccentric
A lovely, heartfelt paean to English eccentrics, by a member of the tribe. A funny, timely and moving encounter with a dying breed.
Hemming makes a convincing case for the ways in which eccentrics benefit any society or era.
Intelligent and encouraging.
The English eccentric is under threat. In our increasingly homogenised society, these celebrated parts of our national identity are anomalies that may soon no longer fit. Or so it seems. On his entertaining and thought-provoking quest to discover the most eccentric English person alive today, Henry Hemming unearths a surprisingly large array of delightfully odd characters.
He asks what it is to be an eccentric. Is it simply to thrive on creativity and non-conformity, and where does this incarnation of Englishness stem from? Hemming concludes that this tribe is, in fact, in rude health, as essential as ever to the English national identity, only they are no longer to be found where youd expect them.