Spy fiction can be seen as a genre in its own right but it also intersects with Invasion and Future War literature especially in the late 19c / early 20C.
A good introduction is available at: Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security at http://www.faqs.org/espionage/In-Int/Intelligence-Literature.html
How fiction related to the real world is well covered by Le Queux: How One Crazy Spy Novelist Created MI5 and MI6 by Graeme Shimmin at: http://graemeshimmin.com/william-le-queux-and-british-spying/
Le Queux, E. Phillips Oppenheim and Erskine Childers novels are discussed in LeRoy L. Panek’s (1981) Special Branch : the British Spy Novel, 1890-1980
For a list of spy novels discussed on this site see: Espionage Bibliography
Early spy films films are discussed in Early Spy & Invasion-scare Films
A down to earth description of the reality of the extent of spying is provided by The National Archives and also by Sidney Theodore Felstead (1920) in German Spies at Bay – Being an Actual Record of the German Espionage in Great Britain during the years 1914-1918
Charles Lowe, in 1910, denounced the hysteria surrounding German spies in England.
There is background on spying and the role of the spy in Baden-Powell’ s (1915) My Adventures as a Spy.
There is material on Edwardian Spies and Literature in the Edwardian Promenade website at http://www.edwardianpromenade.com/category/espionage/
A detailed academic discussion on the background to the literature and historical context is available in Hampshire, J. (undated) “‘Spy Fever’ in Britain, 1900 to 1914.” Historian, Historical Association http://www.history.org.uk/resources/student_resource_596_107.html (subscription required)
Hitchner, T. A. (2010) Espionage literature and the training of the modern British hero .(Details in Secondary Sources – Academic Theses)
See also: (for further details see Essays & Journal Articles)
Stafford, D. A. T. (1981). “Spies and gentlemen: the birth of the British spy novel, 1893-1914.” Victorian Studies 24: 489.
Price, T. J. (1996). “Spy Stories, Espionage and the Public in the Twentieth Century.” Journal of Popular Culture 30(3): 81-89.
Moran, C. R. and Johnson, R. (2010) “In the Service of Empire: Imperialism and the British Spy Thriller 1901–1914”, Studies in Intelligence Vol. 54, No. 2 (June 2010)
Kemp, S., et al. (2005). Spies of the Kaiser: Plotting the Downfall of England. The Oxford Companion to Edwardian Fiction, Oxford University Press.
Kemp, S. and C. M. D. Trotter (2005). Spy fiction. The Oxford Companion to Edwardian Fiction, Oxford University Press.
Knightley, P. (2013) “Working for us or themselves?”, British Journalism Review, Vol. 24, Issue 4 December 2013
Nicholas Hiley published a series of papers on Anglo-German espionage activity:
‘The Failure of British Espionage against Germany, 1907-1914’, Historical Journal, Vol. 26, No. 4 (1983): 867-889.
‘The Failure of British Counter-Espionage against Germany, 1907-1914’, Historical Journal, Vol. 28, No. 4 (1985): 835-862.
‘Spying for the Kaiser’, History Today, No. 6 (1988): 37.
‘Entering the Lists: Mi5’s Great Spy Round-up of August 1914’, Intelligence & National Security, Vol. 21, No. 1 (2006): 46-76.
‘Re-Entering the Lists: Mi5’s Authorized History and the August 1914 Arrests’, Intelligence & National Security, Vol. 25, No. 4 (2010): 415-452.
Many books on the history of spying and the spy novel discuss the role of early spy literature:
- Andrew, C. (2009) The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5
- Atkins, J. (1984) The British Spy Novel
- Denning, M. (1987) Cover Stories: Narrative and Ideology in the British Spy Thriller
- Knightley, P. (2003) The Second Oldest Profession – Spies and Spying in the Twentieth Century
- Morton, J. (2010) Spies of the First World War – Under Cover for King and Kaiser
- Stafford, D. (2013), The Silent Game: The Real World of Imaginary Spies
- Wade, S. (2007) Spies in the Empire: Victorian Military Intelligence
- Wade, S. (2009) Victoria’s Spymasters: Empire and Espionage
- Wark, W.K. (1991) Spy Fiction, Spy Films and Real Intelligence
- Woods B. F. (2007), Neutral Ground: A Political History Of Espionage Fiction
For examples of Life imitating Art in espionage see this account of ‘spies’ arrested in Germany