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Norwood (Melita) papers
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Collection Details
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  • Access
  • Use
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Contents Note
  • Related Collections

  • Title: Melita Norwood papers
    Date (inclusive): circa 1902-2003
    Collection Number: 2010C5
    Contributing Institution: Hoover Institution Library and Archives
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 2 manuscript boxes (0.8 Linear Feet)
    Abstract: Letters, notes, interview summaries, biographical and genealogical data, personal documents, printed matter, and photographs related to Soviet nuclear research espionage in Great Britain, the communist movement in Great Britain, and family affairs. Includes papers of Hilary Norwood, husband of Melita Norwood.
    Creator: Norwood, Melita, 1912-2005
    Creator: Norwood, Hilary, 1910-1985
    Physical Location: Hoover Institution Library & Archives


    The collection is open for research; materials must be requested in advance via our reservation system. If there are audiovisual or digital media material in the collection, they must be reformatted before providing access.


    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Library & Archives.

    Acquisition Information

    Materials were acquired by the Hoover Institution Library & Archives in 2010.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Melita Norwood papers, [Box no., Folder no. or title], Hoover Institution Library & Archives

    Biographical Note

    Melita Norwood was a Soviet spy in England for nearly forty years; her role in delivering documents concerning atomic projects was especially important during the cold war years.
    Originally a labor organizer and later secretary to the director of the British Non-Ferrous Metals Research Association, her assistance is believed to have hastened the Soviet Union's entry into the nuclear club by at least five years. Although identified as an agent in 1999, Norwood was never prosecuted by the British government. She died in 2005.
    Norwood was born and raised among revolutionary émigrés from tsarist Russia, where she acquired the leftist leanings that brought her and her husband, educator Hilary Norwood, into the Independent Labour Party and the British Communist Party in the 1930s. She was recruited as a spy by the NKVD in 1934. For some four decades, Melita Norwood (likely with the knowledge and assistance of her husband) passed secret information on Britain's atomic project to the Soviets.
    Norwood was the subject of a biography by historian David Burke entitled The Spy Who Came in from the Co-op (Woodbridge, UK: Boydell Press, 2008).

    Scope and Contents Note

    The collection contains materials dating back to the early twentieth century, including photographs of Russian political émigrés in England and the Tolstoyan commune (Tuckton House) founded by those émigrés. Also included are family papers, notes on interviews with Melita Norwood conducted by David Burke, notebooks describing the Norwoods' travels to the USSR, papers of Hilary Norwood, and correspondence with various scholars, family, and friends.
    Although the collection contains no espionage-related documents, many of the papers will cause researchers to ponder whether and how organizations such as the British-Soviet Friendship Society and the British Society of Russian Philately, under the auspices of which Hilary traveled to the USSR, might have been covers or conduits for espionage and to what extent the Labour Party was infiltrated by Soviet operatives.

    Related Collections

    Archives of the Soviet Communist Party and Soviet State microfilm, Hoover Institution Library & Archives
    David J. Dallin miscellaneous papers, Hoover Institution Library & Archives
    Pavel Sudoplatov interviews, Hoover Institution Library & Archives

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Communism -- Great Britain
    Espionage, Russian -- Great Britain