Member of the Cambridge Four, a group of Soviet spies operating in Britain from the 1930's to the 1960's. Burgess was a flamboyant drunk and homosexual, and was believed to be Anthony Blunt's lover.

Although unpredictable, he was reportedly an effective recruiter for the KGB and his upper-crust connections tended to shield him from suspicion no matter what he did.

Burgess worked for the BBC, MI6, and eventually the Foreign Office during his time as a Soviet agent. On May 7, 1951, he and his compatriot, Donald Maclean fled England for the Soviet Union. He drank himself to death in 1963.