Cedric Belfrage

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Cedric Henning Belfrage (8 November 1904 – 21 June 1990) was a socialist, author, journalist, translator and co-founder of the radical US-weekly newspaper the National Guardian.


Early years[edit]

Cedric Belfrage was born in London on 8 November 1904. He was educated at Gresham's School, Holt and started his writing career as a film critic at Cambridge University, where he published his first article in Kinematograph Weekly (1924). In 1927, Belfrage went to Hollywood, where he was hired by the New York Sun and Film Weekly as a correspondent. Belfrage returned to London in 1930 as Sam Goldwyn's press agent. Returning to Hollywood, he became politically active, joining the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League, co-editing a left literary magazine, The Clipper.

Political life[edit]

Belfrage joined the Communist Party USA in 1937, but withdrew his membership a few months later. Thereafter, he maintained a friendly but critical relationship. During World War II he worked in the British Security Coordination for the Western hemisphere.

In 1948, Belfrage co-founded, together with James Aronson and John T. McManus, a radical weekly newspaper called the National Guardian.[citation needed] Belfrage would remain affiliated with the publication – renamed The Guardian in 1967 – until late in the 1960s.

Intelligence allegations[edit]

According to FBI files, Belfrage was questioned by the FBI in 1947 about his involvement with the Communist Party. The interview covered his relations with Earl Browder, Jacob Golos, V. J. Jerome, and surveillances and documents about Scotland Yard and the Vichy Government of France.[1]

In 1995, the decrypted VENONA intercepts—a project between the US and British intelligence services to decipher Soviet wires—were made public. United States intelligence has alleged that Unnamed codename number 9 (UNC/9) was Belfrage. Venona also had a cover name "Charlie" that was not identified by the FBI. The 1948 Gorsky Memo, found in Soviet Archives, identifies Belfrage as having a covert relationship with Soviet intelligence as a member of the "Sound" and "Myrna" groups. Seven Venona decrpyts reference UNC/9 in passing conversations between Belfrage's bureau chief and Winston Churchill on to the Soviets.[1] During the period in question, the United States and the Soviet Union were wartime allies.

At the height of McCarthyism, Belfrage was summoned in 1953 to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).

Later years[edit]

In 1955, Belfrage was deported by the US government back to his native England. His wife, Molly Castle, had already been deported by that time. He travelled to Cuba in 1961. In 1962, he travelled throughout South America, finally settling in Cuernavaca, Mexico. In 1973, Cedric Belfrage returned to the US for the first time since 1955, touring around the country with his new book, The American Inquisition (Bobbs Merrill, 1973, Siglo XXI, Mexico, Thunder' Mouth Press, 1989).

Belfrage later debuted as a Spanish-English translator, notably for the Latin American author Eduardo Galeano. Most notably, Belfrage was commissioned by Monthly Review Press to translate Galeano's Open Veins of Latin America. Belfrage continued to write extensively until his last years.

Death and legacy[edit]

Cedric Belfrage died on 21 June 1990 in Mexico, aged 85. Belfrage had three children; Sally Belfrage and Nicolas Belfrage with wife Molly Castle, and Anne Belfrage-Hertz (Zribi) with partner Anne-Marie Hertz. He was the younger brother of actor/BBC newsreader Bruce Belfrage (1900–1974).


  • Away From It All. Gollancz, London, 1937; Simon and Schuster, 1937; Literary Guild, 1937 Penguin (Britain).
  • Promised Land. Gollancz, London, 1937; Left Book Club, London, 1937; Republished by Garland, New York, Classics of Film Literature series, 1983.
  • Let My People Go. Gollancz, London, 1937.
  • South of God. Left Book Club, 1938.
  • A Faith to Free the People. Modern Age, New York, 1942; Dryden Press, New York, 1944; Book Find Club, 1944.
  • They All Hold Swords. Modern Age, New York, 1941.
  • Abide With Me. Sloane Associates, New York, 1948; Secker and Warburg, London, 1948.
  • Seeds of destruction; the truth about the U.S. occupation of Germany Cameron and Kahn, New York, 1954.
  • The Frightened Giant. Secker and Warburg, London, 1956.
  • My Master Columbus. Secker and Warburg, 1961; Doubleday, New York, 1962; Editiones Contemporaneous, Mexico, (in Spanish).
  • The Man at the Door With the Gun. Monthly Review, New York, 1963.
  • The American Inquisition. Bobbs-Merrill, 1973; Siglo XXI, Mexico (in Spanish). Thunder's Mouth Press, 1989.
  • Something to Guard. Columbia University Press, 1978.


  1. ^ a b John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009; pp. 109–111, 312. See also John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr, and Alexander Vassiliev, Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009; pp. 191 and 581, footnote 89.

Further reading[edit]