Winston Churchill’s “favourite” spy who inspired Bond girl Vesper Lynd in Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale was today honoured with a blue plaque.
The tribute to Christine Granville, Britain’s first and longest-serving female special agent, was unveiled today at 1 Lexham Gardens Hotel in Kensington.
In the 1940s, it was known as the Shelbourne Hotel and was Granville’s London base after the Second World War.
Born Krystyna Skarbek in Warsaw in 1908, Granville joined British Intelligence after Germany invaded Poland in 1939.
She completed various missions - including skiing over the snow-bound Polish border in temperatures of -30°C, smuggling microfilm across Europe which proved Hitler’s plans to invade the Soviet Union and rescuing French Resistance agents from the Gestapo.
So essential was she to British intelligence, she was often referred to as Churchill’s favourite spy.
She was also close friends with Fleming, who said she was an inspiration for his character Lynd - played by Eva Green in the 2006 Casino Royale film - when he was promoting the book in 1953.
Granville was murdered, aged 37, in London by an ex-lover who was later executed for the crime.
Both her alias and her birth name feature on the plaque.
Anna Eavis, Curatorial Director at English Heritage, said: “Christine Granville served Britain bravely and brilliantly during the Second World War. We hope that our blue plaque will help more people to discover her remarkable story and her connection with London.”
Clare Mulley, author of The Spy Who Loved, Granville’s biography, said: “All too often women in the resistance are remembered for the beauty and courage, while their achievements are overlooked. Krystyna Skarbek, aka Christine Granville, was one of the most effective special agents to serve Britain during the Second World War, male or female.”