Born George Behar in Rotterdam, Blake possessed British nationality through his father, who had become a naturalized citizen following his war service in World War I. He was educated in Holland and Egypt and joined his mother and sister in London after an escape from the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. In 1943 Blake anglicized his name by deed poll and the next year was recruited by the Secret Intelligence Service as a conducting officer in the Dutch Section. At the end of the war, Blake remained in the SIS and, having completed a Russian language course, was posted to Seoul where he was interned at the outset of the Korean War. In captivity Blake volunteered to spy for the KGB and did so upon his release until he was finally denounced in 1961. At his trial Blake received a record sentence of 42 years’ imprisonment, but in October 1966 he escaped to Moscow with help from a fellow prisoner, Sean Bourke, and a group of British left-wing sympathizers, who publicly acknowledged their role and were subsequently prosecuted and acquitted of having assisted a fugitive. They claimed they had received no support from the KGB, but instead had been financed by film director Tony Richardson.
Following his escape from Wormwood Scrubs in 1966 and his successful exfiltration to East Berlin, Blake took up permanent residence in Moscow, where he now lives in failing health with his second wife. Blake wrote an autobiography, No Abiding City, which was read by a few Western publishers but rejected by all on the grounds that it was too boring, so Blake prepared a second memoir, No Other Choice. Despite the British government’s legislation to prevent former intelligence personnel from disclosing details of their professional work, Blake’s book was released in England, and it contained names of numerous former SIS colleagues whose identities had never previously been published. Surprisingly, no action was taken to prevent the book’s circulation, and in one passage the traitor claims that he was trapped into confessing his duplicity by a skillful interrogator who suggested that he had been coerced into becoming a spy. This version was contradicted by one of those present in the room at the time of his confession, who insists that Blake was spotted by surveillance experts while trying to telephone his Soviet contact in an apparent hope of a rescue.