I recently listened to “Agent 355” by Marie Benedict, the fictionalized story of a New York woman who became an integral part of General Washington’s famed spy ring in and around New York and Long Island. I liked it!
Benedict’s partially fictional tale of Agent 355 is a great narrative of the real historical figure who could have been this spy. Historians have put forth many theories about who Agent 355 could be, and Benedict has latched onto a fictionalized woman who fits the bill: a young lady of a wealthy New York family who had ties to figures sympathetic to the Revolutionary cause, likely in Long Island.
Benedict constructs a backstory around this character — Elizabeth Morris — and intricately connects her to proven historical figures that historians have tried to connect to the mysterious Agent 355.
The story is compelling and particularly so for anyone who has read or seen anything about Washington’s spy network during the Revolutionary War, such as AMC’s show Turn. Its espionage tone is sprinkled with romance that does far more than just give Elizabeth a love interest — it weaves in historical significance.
I want Elizabeth Morris to be a real person, but I agree with Benedict that we will likely never know the truth about who Agent 355 was. I’m happy to accept her telling as at least a shade of the truth.
Benedict spends a couple minutes at the end explaining how she decided to build this character based on her own historical research and theories of who Agent 355 could have been. She then explains why she wrote this story. I recommend listening to it, but I’ll just say that I fully support her mission to bring impactful historical women and their contributions into mainstream consciousness.
I will absolutely be looking for other historical fiction from Marie Benedict.