Dr Jackie Uí Chionna
Jul 23 2018 Posted: 15:06 IST

Dr Jackie Uí Chionna, a historian based at the Moore Institute for Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences at NUI Galway, has been awarded a prestigious research fellowship at Cambridge University. 

The Archives By-Fellowship at Churchill College Cambridge has been awarded to Dr Uí Chionna to enable her to undertake work on her current research project, a biography of Emily Anderson OBE (1891-1962). Anderson was the daughter of the President of UCG at the time, Alexander Anderson, and she herself became Professor of German at the University at the age of just 26, in 1917. She formally resigned her Chair in 1919 to take up a position with the British Foreign Office, but in reality she had already been working for a number of years on intelligence work for the fledgling British Secret Service, ultimately becoming the foremost female code breaker of her generation. She retired in 1952.

Alongside Emily Anderson’s code breaking work, she continued her passionate interest in music, and used her considerable skills to become a world-renowned musicologist, and author of both The Letters of Mozart and his Family and The Letters of Beethoven, works which remain standard references for music students and scholars alike. Emily Anderson was awarded the OBE by the British for her intelligence work during the Second World War, but remarkably she was also awarded the Order of Merit, First Class, the highest award of the Federal Republic of Germany, for her work on Beethoven - the Germans being entirely unaware of her secret intelligence work through two World Wars. Cambridge is the acknowledged world centre for scholarly research in the history of Intelligence, and the Churchill College Archives Centre, where Dr Uí Chionna will be working, houses the finest collection of diplomatic and intelligence related archives in the UK. 

Dr Uí Chionna will spend an academic term at Churchill College, said: “The Awarding of the By-Fellowship is a tremendous honour for me, and more importantly, a significant recognition of the enormous significance of Emily Anderson in an international context. Interest in women code breakers has never been higher, and Anderson was the best of them all, yet until now virtually nothing has been known about her. That will all change with this biography, and I am enormously grateful to Churchill College Cambridge for their recognition of the importance of this research. I am also extremely grateful to Professor Daniel Carey and the Moore Institute, for awarding me the Visiting Fellowship which enabled me to begin work on the book. ”

Dr Uí Chionna will take up her By-Fellowship in 2019.

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