10 History’s Greatest Female Spies

The world has a constant inclined on belittling women when it comes to participating in dangerous works; believing that women are sentimental weaker sex. Throughout history, in this case war, women have proven that they are quite capable of handling dangerous situation for causes they believe in. Here are 10 history’s greatest female spies.

Top 10 Beautiful Female Spies

10.   Mata Hari

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Originally named Margaretha Geertruida Margreet MacLeod, she was born in Netherland. At 18, she married a Dutch Colonial Army Captain Rudolf MacLeod via a marriage advertisement on paper. Her husband had a concubine and her marriage soon turned out disappointing. During this time, Hari began learning Frisian exotic dances and joined a group. The couple separated and Hari moved to Paris where she became a courtesan and model. Fame soon followed and Mari established relationships with high-ranking personals. On February 1917 Hari was accused for spying for Germany and arrested. Later she was executed by firing squad.

9.   Elizabeth Van Lew
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Lew was a life-long abolitionist and it was her education at a Quaker school that instilled this idea. She along with her brother freed many slaves and kept paid housemaids. For years, her brother strolled down Richmond’s slave market and whenever he spotted a slave family being split and sold separately, he would buy the whole family and free them later.Upon the outbreak of the American Civil War, Lew established and operated an extensive spy ring. Post-war, she served in the city’s postal system.

8.   Mary Bowser
Female  at World war 2

Bowser was one of the slaves freed by Elizabeth Van Lew and later she worked in her spy ring during the Civil War.  After recognising Bowser’s exceptional qualities and the talent of her photographic memory, Elizabeth Van Lew sent her to the Quaker School for Negroes in Philadelphia. Upon returning she got married. Later Bowser under Lew’s guidance carried out one of the greatest espionage feat. She is regarded as one of several African-American famous female spies in history whose contribution is hardly known to the public.

7.   Belle Boyd
  Spie turned actress

Otherwise known as Isabella Marie Boyd, she led a care-free life since childhood and was somewhat of a tomboy. Once a band of Union army soldiers came to investigate at her home and insulted her mother. Boyd killed the soldier with a gun. When this incident brought attention on her, she offered her service as a spy. In July 1862, Boyd was caught when the person she loved betrayed her. Fortunately she got freed, went to England and became an actress.

6.   Jeannie Rousseau
history's greatest female spies

During World War II, Rousseau started working as a German interpreter, and therefore had access to vast amount to informations. Soon enough she began reporting on the things she’d seen or heard to the British government. Unfortunately her espionage was discovered and she was arrested by the Gestapo in 1941. Though without facing much of a punishment they let her go soon enough. Rousseau immediately moved to Paris to embark on a new spying mission.Her courage and capabilities lead to the British raid on Peenemünde. After the war was over, Rousseau worked as a freelance interpreter for agencies like the United Nations.

5.   Krystyna Skarbek

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Also known as Christine Granville, Maria Krystyna Janina Skarbek was born to a wealthy Jewish family. She married Jerzy Giżycki and the couple went to London when World War II broke out. And it was then that she was first introduced to the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). Next she began spying for the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) in Poland. In January 1941, Skarbek was caught spying but was released when she bit her tongue until it bled. They thought she was suffering from tuberculosis. Listed among the longest serving women agents in Britain, her efforts convinced the authorities to recruit more women for wartime duties.

4.   Odette Hallowes
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Odette Sansom Hallowes’s father was a World War I hero who died as a martyr in 1918. When she was seven years old she suffered from poliomyelitis. For a whole year, Hallowes remained blind and the next year, she couldn’t move her limbs. In 1942, a mistaken address brought her letter to the War Office. A result of which, she got recruited in the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) and later into the Special Operations Executive programme. Leaving her three young daughters in a convent school, Hallowes served as an Allied intelligence agent for three years. Subsequently Odette Hallowes has been decorated and honoured many times.

3.   Savitri Devi
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Originally named Maximiani Portas, she was a Greek-French writer. A highly educated woman with two Masters Degrees and a Ph.D., Devi became an interpreter in Operation Lustre against Italian and German forces in 1941. Along with her husband, Asit Krishna Mukherji, a Bengali Brahmin, she began spying for the Axis power. A deep believer in Nazi proponent, Devi was also a big-time animal right activist. One of the founding members of the World Union of National Socialists, she died in 1982.

2.   Virginia Hall
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In 1931, Hall started working as a Consular Service clerk at the American Embassy in Poland. She wanted to establish a career in Foreign Service but in 1932, she accidentally shot herself in her leg which had to be amputeed and replaced with a wooden one. When World War II broke out, Hall joined the Ambulance Service and later got recruited in the Special Operations Executive program (SOE). Nicknamed “the limping lady”, the Germans soon named her in one of their ‘most wanted’ lists. Post war, Virginia Hall worked in the Special Activities Division of the Central Intelligence Agency and the American Office of Strategic Services.

1.   Noor Inayat Khan
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Also known as Noor-un-Nisa Inayat Khan, she was, from her mother’s side a descendant of Tipu Sultan. Born to a noble Indian Muslim father and an American mother, Khan was a shy girl who loved writing poetry and children’s stories and even contributed to French radio and children’s magazine. She studied child psychology and music with vested interest.
Deeply inspired by her father’s pacifist beliefs, Khan wanted to take the Nazis down. Therefore she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) in 1940, trained in wireless operation as an aircraftwoman. Eventually she was recruited as Special Operations Executive F Section agent and adopted the name ‘Nora Baker’. After pulling off several ass-kicking feat Khan was captured and executed in the Dachau Concentration Camp.We will also cover another article on top 10 beautiful female spies