The spy fiction genre as it is currently recognised is usually thought of as a fairly recent phenomenon, and appears to be concerned primarily with the exploits of spies during the Cold War, but in reality the genre has a very long and extremely disparate history. An early example of the spy novel genre is to be found in the activities of Baroness Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel recounting the undercover exploits of an English aristocrat in his attempts to rescue members of the French aristocracy during the French Revolution. Erskine Childers' novel, The Riddle of the Sands, defined the spy novel for the First World War. Much of the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick's work is also concerned with subterfuge in a futuristic interplanetary setting.
Prominent writers of spy fiction: