• The very first study to analyse the role of early modern women spies
  • Foregrounds the agency of early modern women, offering a corrective to the gender bias implicit in modern historiography
  • Explores the uses of codes, ciphers, and invisible inks, giving new insights into the mechanics of espionage
  • Offers a series of detailed case studies, telling the tales of women such as Aphra Behn, Susan Hyde, and Elizabeth Murray
  • Grounded in a wealth of archival sources, many previously undiscovered
  • Awarded the prize for ‘the best book published on Women and Gender in 2018’ by the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women and Gender
  • Has inspired at least one work of fiction, Killing Beauties by Pete Langman.

Buy Invisible Agents

Invisible Agents was rated at no. 3 in the best history books of 2018 by BBC History Magazine, no. 36 in the Daily Telegraph’s ‘50 Best Books of 2018’, and was chosen by Paul Lay, editor of History Today, as one his 5 best books of 2018.

Invisible Agents was also reviewed in The Times, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Clarendon Chronicle, and Le Monde as well as being featured in The Times.

Praise for Invisible Agents

Revelatory. (Simon Heffer, Books of the Year 2018: History, The Daily Telegraph)

A history book that will surely inspire future fiction. A work of deep scholarship and clever detective work. (Leanda de Lisle, Books of the Year 2018, BBC History Magazine)

A dense, hugely researched and admirably learned history of women spies during the Civil War. (Dominic Sandbrook, The Sunday Times)

A brilliant book. (Noel Malcolm, The Sunday Telegraph)

A triumph of scholarly rigour, original thinking and crisp prose. It is, in every sense, a cracking book. (Jessie Childs, The Daily Telegraph)

Invisible Agents is a work of deep scholarship that suggests Akkerman would have made an excellent spy catcher. (Leanda de Lisle, The Times)

Brimming with fascinating detail … Akkerman’s archival dissections admirably emulate the painstaking vigilance of early modern spy masters. (Clare Jackson, The Times Literary Supplement)

Pioneering … a most valuable book, highlighting women’s contribution to the conspiratorial world of mid-17th-century Britain, while also offering a thought provoking exercise in gender and historical methods. (Ann Hughes, BBC History Magazine)

An intriguing book … [Akkerman’s] own remarkable ability to ferret out secrets is often as great as that of the spies she writes about. Time after time, women whose lives, careers and even names have been forgotten or misread spring into stealthy, double-dealing life on the page. (Adrian Tinniswood, Literary Review)

Invisible Agents breaks significant new ground in its focus on the special roles of Royalist and Parliamentarian ‘she-intelligencers’ and their hidden world. This is a model monograph, meticulously researched and relentlessly questioning, which succeeds admirably in uncovering closely guarded secrets. (R. C. Richardson, Times Higher Education)