Historian and broadcaster Tessa Dunlop tells the story of the women of Bletchley Park, through exclusive and unprecedented access to the women themselves.
The Bletchley Girls weaves together the lives of fifteen women who were all selected to work in Britain's most secret organisation - Bletchley Park. It is their story, told in their voices; Tessa met and talked to 15 veterans, often visiting them several times. Firm friendships were made as their epic journey unfolded on paper.
The scale of female involvement in Britain during the Second World War wasn't matched in any other country. From 8 million working women just over 7000 were hand-picked to work at Bletchley Park and its outstations. There had always been girls at the Park but soon they outnumbered the men three to one.
A refugee from Belgium, a Scottish debutante, a Jewish 14-year-old, and a factory worker from Northamptonshire - the Bletchley Girls confound stereotypes. But they all have one common bond, the war and their highly confidential part in it. In the middle of the night, hunched over meaningless pieces of paper, tending mind-blowing machines, sitting listening for hours on end, theirs was invariably confusing, monotonous and meticulous work, about which they could not breathe a word.
By meeting and talking to these fascinating female secret-keepers who are still alive today, Tessa Dunlop captures their extraordinary journeys into an adult world of war, secrecy, love and loss. Through the voices of the women themselves, this is a portrait of life at Bletchley Park beyond the celebrated code-breakers, it's the story of the girls behind Britain's ability to consistently out-smart the enemy, and an insight into the women they have become.
Dunlop is engaging in her personal approach. Her obvious feminine empathy with the venerable ladies she spoke to gives her book an immediacy and intimacy. - Daily Mail
An in-depth picture of life in Britain's wartime intelligence centre...The result is fascinating, and is made all the more touching by the developing friendships between Dunlop and her interviewees. - Financial Times
Lively...in giving us the daily details of their lives in the women's own voices Dunlop does them and us a fine service. - New Statesman
Dunlop has interviewed some of those Bletchley women still alive and draws on one or two unpublished diaries. These have yielded some good stuff, especially on the particular intensity of wartime sexual relationships. - The Observer
Dunlop offers us glimpses of the women's lives and expectations, their education, aspirations and personal anecdotes, how they coped with the aftermath of war and what became of them. The combined accounts make for a fascinating social document of women's lives. - Sunday Express
The 15 extraordinary women interviewed for this book came from backgrounds as diverse as debutantes and factory workers. It's an engrossing read that captures their wildly different experiences. - Choice Magazine
Tessa Dunlop's The Bletchley Girls tells the story of 15 female veterans of 'Station X', all of whom Dunlop has interviewed at length.
Award winning broadcaster and historian, Tessa Dunlop has presented several series and one-off documentaries for BBC TV including 'Thames Shipwrecks', 'Coast' and 'Inside Out'. She has authored and presented several documentaries for Radio 4 and the BBC World Service and has written for almost all the major national newspapers. She received the Gertrude Easton History prize whilst at Oxford University, got a 1st in her MA: Imperialism and Culture and has been awarded a PhD scholarship at Sheffield Hallam University.