Virginia Hall bigraphy, stories - American World War II spy; CIA analyst

Virginia Hall : biography

April 6, 1906 - July 14, 1982 (aged 76)

Virginia Hall Goillot, MBE, DSC (6 April 1906 — 8 July 1982 was an American spy with the Special Operations Executive during World War II and later with the Office of Strategic Services and the Special Activities Division of the Central Intelligence Agency. She was known by many aliases, including "Marie Monin", "Germaine", "Diane", "Marie of Lyon", "Camille",[]Daily Telegraph, 29/01/1994 Page 15, Obituary of George Begue and Nicolas. The Germans gave her the nickname Artemis. The Gestapo reportedly considered her "the most dangerous of all Allied spies". Meyer,Roger (October 2008). "World War II's Most Dangerous Spy" The American Legion Magazine p. 54

Early life

Hall was born in Baltimore, Maryland and attended prestigious Radcliffe College and Barnard College (Columbia University), where she studied French, Italian and German. She wanted to finish her studies in Europe. With help from her parents, she travelled the Continent and studied in France, Germany, and Austria, finally landing an appointment as a Consular Service clerk at the American Embassy in Warsaw, Poland in 1931. Hall had hoped to join the Foreign Service, but suffered a setback around 1932 when she accidentally shot herself in the left leg while hunting in Turkey. The leg was later amputated from the knee down, and replaced with a wooden appendage which she named "Cuthbert". The injury foreclosed whatever chance she might have had for a diplomatic career, and she resigned from the Department of State in 1939. Thereafter she attended graduate school at American University in Washington, DC.


Virginia Hall Goillot died at the Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville, Maryland on 8 July 1982, aged 76. She is buried in the Druid Ridge Cemetery, Pikesville, Baltimore County, Maryland.


Her story was told in "The Wolves at the Door : The True Story of America's Greatest Female Spy" by Judith L. Pearson (2005) The Lyons Press, ISBN 1-59228-762-X. A biography exists in French: "L'Espionne. Virginia Hall, une Américaine dans la guerre", by Vincent Nouzille (2007) Fayard l(Paris), a book reviewed by British historian M.R.D. Foot in "Studies in Intelligence", Vol 53, N°1, []. She was honoured in 2006 again, at the French and British embassies for her courageous work.


  • Marcus Binney, The Women Who Lived for Danger: The Women Agents of SOE in the Second World War, London, Hodder & Stoughton, 2002, ISBN 0-340-81840-9, pp. 111–38 ("Virginia Hall") and passim.


For her efforts in France, General William Joseph Donovan in September 1945 personally awarded Hall a Distinguished Service Cross — the only one awarded to a civilian woman in World War II. President Truman wanted a public award of the medal; however Hall demurred and replied "Still operational and most anxious to get busy."

Post War

In 1950, Hall married OSS agent Paul Goillot. In 1951, she joined the Central Intelligence Agency working as an intelligence analyst on French parliamentary affairs. She worked alongside her husband as part of the Special Activities Division.

Hall retired in 1966 to a farm in Barnesville, Maryland.

World War II

The coming of war that year found Hall in Paris. She joined the Ambulance Service before the fall of France and ended up in Vichy-controlled territory when the fighting stopped in the summer of 1940.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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