Female Intelligence: Women and Espionage in the First World War [Proctor]
Cnockaert’s is only one of the surprising and gripping stories that comprise Female Intelligence. This is the first history of the female spies who served Britain during World War I, focusing on both the powerful cultural images of these women and the realities, challenges, and contradictions of intelligence service. Between the founding of modern British intelligence organizations in 1909 and the demobilization of 1919, more than 6,000 women served the British government in either civil or military occupations as members of the intelligence community. These women performed a variety of services, and they represented an astonishing diversity of nationality, age, and class. From Aphra Behn, who spied for the British government in the seventeenth century, to the most well known example, Mata Hari, female spies have a long history, existing in juxtaposition to the folkloric notion of women as chatty, gossipy, and indiscreet.
Using personal accounts, letters, official documents and newspaper reports, Female Intelligence interrogates different, and apparently contradictory, constructions of gender in the competing spheres of espionage activity.