157. The Bletchley Girls- Tessa Dunlop


Title: The Bletchley Girls

Author: Tessa Dunlop

Rating: ★★★★

On the Shelves: Non-fiction/Historical/War

The story of the women of Bletchley Park, Britain’s top secret code-breaking school, is told through exclusive interviews with the women who served their country, and the impact that their service had on the rest of their lives

Based on extensive interviews conducted specifically for this book, Tessa Dunlop tells the story of the Bletchley Girls through the lives of 15 women who were all selected to work in Britain’s most secret World War II organization—Bletchley Park. Many were just school girls at the outbreak of war; the next six years would change their lives forever. This vivid portrayal of their experiences, sacrifices, and memories is a poignant reminder that without the work of thousands of young women Bletchley Park’s extraordinary achievements would not have been possible. 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 the story of life at Bletchley Park beyond the celebrated code-breakers; it’s the story of the girls behind Britain’s ability to consistently outsmart the enemy. (Goodreads 2016)

Not my usual material on my shelves, but I absolutely adore reading about women in wartime, and their war effort. Bletchley came to my attention after an ITV drama “Bletchley Circle” aired on UK TV (I highly recommend!). Prior to that, I only knew of Bletchley park vaguely, and mostly for the fact it is where they cracked Enigma and and passing general knowledge of Alan Turing. I didn’t really know much about the women who worked around the clock there for four years, contributing to the understanding of codebreaking which would eventually help to end the war. Talk about overlooking a vital piece of evidence!

Througout this book, Dunlop has managed to track down a number of the women who worked at the Park in secret during the war, some of whom have never spoken about what they did during the war, as per the Official Secrets Act- until now. They talk about their daily struggles,  being away from friends and family, communiting to the Park, the secrets that came with the Park (both the work they conducted and the Park itself). I found it all fascinating!

I recommend this to anyone who loves historical accounts (fiction or non) set in the wartime era, and to those who enjoy reading about strong and determined women- because for too long, they have been “Anonymous”.




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