Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes headshot
Christopher Hugh Sykes (1907-1986), second son of diplomat Sir Mark Sykes, was educated at Downside School, Christ Church, Oxford and the Sorbonne in Paris. He spent time in the Foreign Office, as an attaché in the British Embassy in Berlin (1928-29) and at the British Legation in Tehran (1930-31). He attended the School of Oriental Studies in London in Persian studies (1933).

Sykes then travelled to Persia and Afghanistan (1933-34), then an almost unexplored area. Back in the UK, Sykes wrote a biography of the German Persianist Wilhelm Wassmus (1936). He was commissioned in 1939 as a reserve officer in the Green Howards regiment’s 7th Battalion. In June 1940, Sykes joined SO1 (later Special Operations Executive). In October 1941, he went to Tehran as Deputy Director of Special Propaganda under diplomatic cover after the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran; in November 1942, he transferred to Cairo, where he wrote a light novel,
High Minded Murder. Back in the UK in May 1943, he volunteered for the Special Air Service (SAS) and undertook very dangerous work with the French Resistance. His experiences were depicted in Four Studies in Loyalty.

After 1945 Sykes worked for many years in BBC Radio. He wrote frequently for British and American periodicals, including
The New Republic, The Spectator, Books and Bookmen, The Observer and the English Review Magazine.

Sykes’ many books include biographies of
Orde Wingate (1959), his friend Evelyn Waugh (1975), Lady Astor, Adam von Trott zu Solz, a history of the British Mandate of Palestine, Crossroads to Israel (1965) and several novels.

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