Agnes Smedley, a triple agent who worked for the Soviets, the Chinese Communists and the Indian Nationalists, was one of the most prolific female spies of the twentieth century.
Smedley moved to New York City to pursue a career in journalism and worked for Margaret Sanger on the Birth Control Review. In 1912 she became involved with the Friends of Freedom for India, an activist group affiliated with India’s Nationalist Movement. This led to her arrest for aiding and abetting espionage and she left the US for Berlin.
Smedley completed her first novel Daughter of Earth in 1929 and, shortly after, moved to Shanghai.
For years Smedley chronicled the Chinese revolution as a war correspondent for Germany, Britain and later the United States. From November 1938 to April 1941 she visited resistance units under both the Communist and Guomindang leaders in the war zone, the longest tour of the Chinese war by any foreign correspondent.
Smedley returned to the United States where she wrote several books about China's revolution. However, in 1947 during the McCarthy era, she was accused of espionage and was forced to move to England where she died in 1950. Her ashes were spread in a cemetery for revolutionaries in Beijing.