Queen's Quarterly

Queen's Quarterly
Queen's Quarterly

Julie Wheelwright


Winter 2019 - Wheelwright

Poisoned Honey: 

The Myth of Women in Espionage

Our century’s fascination with the spy has produced at least as much mythology as recorded fact, and the romanticized picture of international espionage is never complete without the alluring and dangerous femme fatale. But this misconception about the role of women in intelligence is not confined to spy novels and James Bond films; in many cases it has been nurtured at the very highest levels of the intelligence community.

This article first appeared in Queen’s Quarterly 100/2 (Summer 1993).


Julie Wheelwright is a senior lecturer in the English department at City, University of London. Her most recent book, Sisters in Arms: Female Warriors from Antiquity to the New Millennium (Osprey/Bloomsbury), will be published in February 2020. She is also the author of Amazons and Military Maids, The Fatal Lover: Mata Hari and the Myth of Women in Espionage, and a biography of her ancestor who was taken captive by Indigenous people in eighteenth-century Maine, Esther: The Remarkable True Story of Esther Wheelwright.