19. A Mysterious Master Spy
Master spy and adventurer George Sidney Reilly (1874 – 1925), original name Zigmund Markovich Rozenblum, was born in Odessa, in the Russian Empire’s Ukraine. Relatively few details about his background are known with accuracy, and many of the more romanticized facts about his life might have been his own inventions. Details of his early days and education are sketchy. Although Reilly led an extraordinarily adventurous life, he habitually spiced things up with embellishments or outright fabrications to make himself seem even more exciting.
At various times, Reilly claimed to have attended prestigious institutes such as Cambridge University, the University of Heidelberg, and the Royal School of Mines. In reality, he had never attended any of them, but he was good enough at chemistry to become a member of the Chemical Society in 1896, and the Institute of Chemistry a year later. He also had a good ear for languages, and mastered English, German, French, Polish, and Russian. Those gifts would serve him well in his espionage career.