The Bletchley Girls
By Tessa Dunlop
Published by Hachette
RRP $35.00 in paperback
This is one of two books on Bletchley Park that I’ve received recently. The other is Michael Smith’s The Debs of Bletchley Park and other stories, which has found its way into my Books of Interest column in Australian Defence Magazine, August 2015 edition.
In the past, the focus has been on telling the remarkable story of code-breaking at this top secret facility during World War 2 – and in particular the focus has been on the men who achieved the breakthroughs. Little time has been spent focusing on those in the background who were critical to the success of Bletchley Park. Most of those in the background were women who did the repetitious and monotonous tasks but also performed jobs at all levels.
Tessa Dunlop interviewed fifteen women, most now in their 90s, for this book. What she delivers is an engaging social history, rather than a detailed examination of what work the women did. What is interesting too is to understand how this period represented a transition for women in the workplace. It freed women from the narrow expectations of a society that expected them to be wives and mothers and content with home-making and family life.
I’ve linked a review from The Guardian that will give you more details on this book and the other Bletchley title.