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Queen of Codes

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781472295507

Price: £12.99

ON SALE: 8th February 2024

Genre: Humanities / History

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‘One of the greatest codebreakers of the twentieth century’ Suzannah Lipscomb

An astounding story of codebreaking, personal sacrifice and a life lived in the shadows.

The history of British codebreaking is often considered a men-only preserve, ignoring the fact that the vast majority of codebreakers were women. And foremost among them was one who is largely unknown to the public: Emily Anderson.

A leading member of British intelligence, Anderson played a pivotal role in both world wars. Amongst the first codebreakers to move to Bletchley Park, she later transferred to Cairo where her exceptional skills in decoding diplomatic and military intelligence were instrumental in the first Allied victory of the Second World War, for which she was awarded the OBE. Remarkable in many ways, she was also the first female Junior Assistant in the civil service and led the fight for equal pay for women at GCHQ.

Revealing newly discovered material and sources, Queen of Codes is a fascinating narrative that will rightly seal Emily Anderson’s place at the forefront of Britain’s eminent codebreakers.


A thoroughly researched and highly readable account of a woman who may have appeared to the world as the epitome of ordinary, but was in truth anything but.
Physics World
A meticulously-researched biography that explores the secret life of a codebreaker equally comfortable playing the piano or living a life of high-stakes drama in a war zone
Anderson's role in the war effort, and her very substantial contributions to modern musicology, are now rightly recorded
The Irish Mail on Sunday
Some women are missing from history books for the simple reason that - under the Official Secrets Act - they could not speak the truth about their lives. Among these was Emily Anderson, one of the greatest codebreakers of the twentieth century - an unsung heroine of both World Wars. In Jackie Uí Chionna she at last finds her biographer. In unravelling Anderson's story, Uí Chionna shines a light on an extraordinary woman who literally changed the course of history
Suzannah Lipscomb
Queen Of Codes describes the extraordinary work and legacy of Emily Anderson during the Second World War. Anderson played a key role at our wartime home in Bletchley Park and at our regional centre in the Middle East. She is one of our best, and least recognised, codebreakers. This fantastic piece of work by Dr Jackie Uí Chionna highlights the critical role that women have played in our organisation's history
Dr. David Abrutat, Departmental Historian, GCHQ
Completely compelling, endlessly illuminating and richly intriguing - Jackie Ui Chionna's wonderfully written and deeply researched work has at last pulled back the curtain of secrecy from one of Bletchley Park's most extraordinary unsung figures. This is a story not just of a pioneering codebreaking genius, working through two world wars, but also - movingly - about a dazzlingly brilliant woman creating a space for herself and her passions in a rigid world and at a rigid time.
Sinclair McKay
The groundbreaking contribution of Emily Anderson to codebreaking in the 20th century has been hidden for far too long... until now. One of the most important biographies of recent times
Dr Helen Fry
This book is a compelling biography, by any standard, and among the best studies of any intelligence officer. That this book could even be written is a wonder of research. Emily Anderson shunned publicity, and worked with British codebreakers who embodied skill and secrecy. That this book is so well written is a delight to match the grace of Emily Anderson's scholarship on Beethoven and Mozart
John Ferris, author of Behind the Enigma
As one of the world's greatest codebreakers, Emily Anderson has been forgotten for far too long. Based on rigorous research and brilliant storytelling, Uí Chionna has produced a seminal biography that Anderson would have approved.
Claire Hubbard-Hall