A Spy for Every Winter
Virginia Hall's World War Two exploits never get cold
This is the story of Virginia Hall, a privileged woman from Baltimore who was expected only to “marry up” and be a good housewife—and yet became one of the Allies’ most effective spies in World War Two. As told in Sonia Purnell’s wonderfully engaging and ironically titled biography, A Woman of No Importance, she was a tomboy who liked to hunt and excelled at sports. She was elected high school class president. She was paired with a suitable young man but really didn’t like him so she dumped him. Her family was reasonably well off, so European travel was part of her life. She attended five colleges, starting at Radcliffe and also going to school in Paris and Vienna.
While in Europe she learned four languages—and Morse code. She applied for the U.S. diplomatic corps and, despite scoring 100 per cent on the qualifying examination, was rejected at the last minute. She failed the gender test. She was a woman.
Purnell’s book has received rave reviews since it was first published in 2019—accl…