(via Overlooked No More: Noor Inayat Khan, Indian Princess and British Spy – The New York Times)

Noor Inayat Khan was not what one would expect of a British spy.

She was a princess, having been born into royalty in India; a Muslim, whose father was a Sufi preacher; a writer, mainly of short stories; and a musician, who played the harp and the piano.

But she was exactly what Britain’s military intelligence needed in 1943.

Khan, whose name was in the news in Britain recently as a proposed new face of the £50 note, was 25 when war was declared in 1939. She and her family went to England to volunteer for the war effort, and in 1940 she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force and trained to become a radio operator.

Able to speak French, she was quickly chosen to go to Paris to join the Special Operations Executive, a secret British organization set up to support resistance to the Germans from behind enemy lines through espionage and sabotage.

Khan was the first female radio operator to be sent by Britain into occupied France, according to her biographer, Shrabani Basu…



Elspeth Beard, shortly after becoming the first Englishwoman to circumnavigate the world by motorcycle. Her journey took 3 years and covered 48,000 miles.

Uh, just as a warning to anyone out there attracted to women: the other photos of her that exist are at least equally as hot, which is fucking terrifying.