Queen of Spies: Daphne Park, Britain's Cold War Spy Master
Paddy Hayes

Queen of Spies: Daphne Park, Britain's Cold War Spy Master

Baroness Daphne Park (1921-2010) was described by the Guardian as Britain’s ‘Queen of Spies’ and was widely acknowledged as being one of Britain’s leading Cold War Intelligence officers.  She was the first member of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), other than a retiring Chief, to be elevated to the House of Lords having previously been appointed CMG and OBE.  

Park lived an extraordinary life.  In 1933, the eleven year old was plucked from mud-hut poverty in the heart of Africa to live with her grand-aunts in London and be brought up – in equally poverty stricken circumstances – in England. Seven years later she had won two scholarships to Oxford University and another to live and study in France for three months just as Hitler’s armies were massing on its borders.  In 1943 with Oxford behind her she signed up as a nursing auxiliary with FANY, yet within 18 months she was briefing Special Forces troops on the eve of them being parachuted into battle behind German lines.  She continued to distinguish herself after joining the post-War Secret Intelligence Service.  In Moscow she played a key role in assisting the American CIA to acquire the secrets of Stalin’s anti-aircraft missile defence system ringing the city.  In Africa she “wrote the book” for SIS on how to handle operations in the continent after serving in the newly independent Congo and later in Lusaka.  And on it went, for 31 years in total, rising to Controller/Western Hemisphere; the highest rank achieved by a woman officer up to that time.   But it wasn’t all work; the book will reveal details of a number of her love affairs, one of which was to scar her emotionally for the rest of her adult life.

In writing this book Paddy Hayes has gained the cooperation of former SIS colleagues of Park, of friends, academics, writers and diplomats. In fact he had the opportunity during her lifetime to speak personally with Park about her time in SIS and to ask her for her observations about the murder of Patrice Lumumba and other pertinent issues. 

Daphne Park; Queen of Spies by Paddy Hayes will be the first biography of a major British Cold War intelligence figure since Tom Bower’s book on Dick White in 1997 (The Perfect English Spy).    

Book Details:

  • Author: Paddy Hayes
  • Published Year: 2015
  • Rights Sold
    • UK: Duckworth
    • US: Overlook
Paddy Hayes

Paddy Hayes

Paddy Hayes is an entrepreneur with 41 years trading experience under his belt.  In that period he started three businesses. The first was a business intelligence provider, the second a marketing communications agency and the third, which he continues to run, is an international research practice.  During this time he has also been a close observer of the clandestine operations of secret intelligence services. His work took him behind the Iron Curtain to Moscow and to East Berlin and to many of the cities with almost legendary associations with espionage; Vienna, Shanghai, Bangkok...
More about Paddy Hayes

Book Reviews

  • "Daphne Park was truly the empress of British espionage,. This book is a major contribution to understanding her fascinating career in MI6. Remarkably well-researched, it is required reading for anyone interested in the world of secret service."
    Richard J Aldrich Professor of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick, and author of GCQH, The Uncensored Story of Britain’s Most Secret Intelligence Agency.
  • "Queen of Spies... fills a big gap….richly entertaining biography…"
    Richard Norton Taylor , The Guardian
  • "Paddy Hayes has written a remarkable biography of a remarkable woman - providing real insight into MI6 of the Cold War."
    Gordon Corera, author MI6: Life and Death in the British Secret Service
  • "As exciting as any good spy thriller—but it’s all true."
  • "richly entertaining biography..."
  • "  A wonderful new book that would make a great gift for anyone ."
    Irish Daily Mail
  • "  This book was entertaining and thrilling, yet also informative and thought-provoking. It has explored many aspects of history and displays Hayes’ passion for the intelligence service. It has a wide appeal to anyone who enjoys history or simply a good story. "
  • "Hayes is open about his own speculations, given the still-classified nature of much of this material, but he successfully conveys the inspiring nature of Park's personal story and achievements, offering an informative account of the Cold War and the workings of the supersecret SIS."
    Publishers Weekly
  • "a fascinating and long-overdue biography."
    Washington Post
  • "the only biography on Baroness Park and it fills a big gap. Hayes has produced an interesting and informative work. "
    CIA Review of Books
  • "Writing a biography of Daphne Park was never going to be easy and Paddy Hayes has done a very good job.  "
    Daily Telegraph
  • "...deftly manages to chart her extraordinary life."
    Country Life
  • "  A thoroughly researched and enlightening account ."
    Times Literary Supplement
  • "...the fascinating story of the evolution of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) from World War II to the Cold War through the eyes of Daphne Park, one of its outstanding and most unusual operatives. He provides the reader with one of the most intimate narratives yet of how the modern SIS actually went about its business whether in Moscow, Hanoi, or the Congo."
    Sunday Leader, Sri Lanka
  • "An interesting and informative work ."
    The Intelligencer
  • "In a series of vignettes, the author tells a dramatic story that he gathered over five decades of researching the shadowy world of intelligence and those who survived it as an occupation."
    Washington Times
  • "    a vivid account of the very male world of spies and secrecy."
    Daily Mail