The world is all about spies like James Bond, but when it comes to female spies, how many names really come to mind? There have been some incredible heroines in espionage – you just haven’t heard of them. Here are the most infamous ones that should be on your radar.
1. Anna Chapman
Russian spy and model Anna Chapman was part of a Russian spy ring, infiltrating the U.S for years while attempting to seduce NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden. She used her model status to gain access to covert government information and secrets, finally getting arrested in NYC 2019.
2. Ana Montes
Ms. Montes was a spy for the Cuban government and starting working for the US in 1985, with the Defense Intelligence Agency. An expert on everything Cuban, Ana had a photographic memory and memorized documents with ease. She even passed polygraph test for the U.S, but alas was sentenced to 25 years in 2002.
3. Josephine Baker
This one might have you scratching your head. Wasn’t Josephine Baker a dancer and singer in the 1920s? She was also a spy during WWII on behalf of the French Resistance, smuggling messages in her sheet music.
4. Stephanie Rader
Own to Polish immigrants in Ohio, Stephanie Rader joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in 1942 before being recruited to the Office of Strategic Services. Feigning the identity of a woman searching for lost family members in war, she got a job at the embassy. Undercover, she gathered info on Russian troop movements, political statistics, and the police. All in plain clothing, and with no gun. Badass, much?
5. Nancy Wake
At first glance, Nancy was just your everyday journalist. After marrying rich French industrialist, she joined the ranks of high-society France. A pioneer in the French Resistance, Wake established lines of communication between the French Resistance and British military, saving the lies of Allies along the way. According to some, this Nazi vigilante killed many a German soldier, one even with her bare hands.
6. Melita Norwood
Melita was a secretary at the British Non Ferrous Metals Research Association in the 1930s. Only thing is, the BNF was a cover-up organization for Britain’s nuclear weapons program know as the Tube Alloys project. She identified with the communist values of the Soviets, and hence got involved in the KGB, staying at BNF facilities after hours and removing files from the safes, sending copies to KGB handlers.
7. Noor Inayat Khan
This original baddie was the first British Indian spy, as well as the first female radio operator. Under the code name Madeleine, Noor worked for a residence movement in Paris, avoiding capture with smooth and swift relocation. When captured by the Gestapo, she refused to give any information, and was eventually tortured to death by Nazi police.
8. Christine Granville
A beauty queen turned spy, Christine Granville was a model before she got involved with World War II. Carrying messages through Poland to Allied forces, Christine risked her life as she saved soldiers from execution and used her beauty and charm as an asset.
9. Mata Hari
An undercover spy with the feigned identity of an exotic Asian dancer is something out of a movie, but it was real life for Miss Hari, who toured Europe performing dancing shows and narrating extravagantly exaggerated stories about her life. She was seductive and convincing, as well as a massager for the Allies’ opposition. She had affairs with high-up military officials and coaxed secrets from them, but was eventually found out by the Allies and killed.
10. Virginia Hall
Virginia was an American spy who was tough as nails. She worked for the CIA, the British Special Operations Executive, and the American Office of Strategic Services during World War II. Leading agents in many scenarios, rescuing war prisoners, and recruiting anti-Nazi spies were all in a day’s work for Ms. Hall. She received the Distinguished Service Cross and was the only woman to do so.