Eilidh McGinness on how THE CYPHER BUREAU all began

Today we welcome author Eilidh McGinness to discuss how she came to write her new historical fiction novel The Cypher Bureau.

PLUS, to celebrate The Cypher Bureau‘s release Eilidh has very generously offered 2 paperback copies for worldwide giveaway.

Eilidh McGinness The Cypher Bureau Worldwide Book Giveaway

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The Cypher Bureau – How It All Began

I had been flirting with writing romance when I first heard of Marian Rejewski. My first question was why had I never heard the name before? It troubled me. That was my undoing. The Cypher Bureau was born. I could do nothing until the story was told.

I should have anticipated it of course.  History was my first love and it had returned to claim me.

Are you now asking, who is this Marian Rejewski? Why have I not heard the name? It is intriguing of course. Androgynous. Who would not know the name of the person accredited with being the greatest cryptologist of all time? Who would not know the name of the person who first solved Enigma, the coding system used by the Nazis during World War 2, an achievement credited as shortening the war by at least two years and saving millions of lives.

You might now be thinking wasn’t that Alan Turing? You might have seen The Imitation Game or even read one of the Enigma books. You might have visited Bletchley Park, England. You might already be dismissing me as a crazy Scottish woman. But do not forget, history is told by the victors and Poland did not win the Second World War.

So who was this person? This Marian Rejewski.  He was born in Poland, where Marian is a boy’s name. (Check John Wayne the famous actor.) In 1905, when Poland formed part of the German Empire. A studious, timid child with an aptitude of maths he dreamed of a secure career as a statistician for an insurance company. Fate had other plans. Recruited along with twenty-five other gifted mathematics students from Poznan University, Poland by The Cypher Bureau, Poland’s secret intelligence service, Marian became a student attending the world’s first ever, top secret, codebreaking course. He emerged as the star pupil. The prize was Enigma.


A Polish constructed Enigma machine

An Enigma machine at Bletchley Park

In 1932 Marian, alone, was charged with breaking the code. He did it. With a little help from the French.  But breaking the code was only the beginning. The settings on Enigma machines were changed daily. On the stroke of midnight every night, the code breakers began a fresh battle. A fight they had to win to survive. Poland, sandwiched between an increasingly Nazi Germany and a Soviet Union with Stalin in command had no illusions about the consequences of failure

The Cypher Bureau successfully decoded Enigma messages until December 1938 when an adaptation in the complexity of the machine made increased resources a necessity. The Polish team contacted their British and French counterparts and finally shared the Enigma secret on 26th July 1939.

A Bombe Machine invented by Marian Rejewski at Bletchley Park

The Cypher Bureau gifted an Enigma machine to the British at Victoria Station London on 16th August 1939. The day after Bletchley Park was opened. Alan Turing was recruited to Bletchley Park as a direct result of the Polish mathematicians’ success in breaking the code, which had hitherto been considered unbreakable.

When Poland was invaded on 1st September 1939, Marian Rejewski and The Cypher Bureau went on the run from the Nazi invaders. If the Nazis found out the Enigma code was breached they would change the settings and years of work would be lost. It was vital that no-one be caught. That no-one betrayed the secret. Find out what happens next — read The Cypher Bureau.

Eilidh McGinness The Cypher BureauThe Cypher Bureau Synopsis

A fast-paced historical thriller which follows the secret hero of WW2.

When The Polish Cypher Bureau discover that the Germans are using a new type of code that they are unable to decypher, the Bureau decide to recruit mathematic students in a new approach to code-breaking. Marian Rejewski is recommended to the Bureau and, along with other gifted students, attends a top secret code-breaking course. Marian leaves university to pursue a career in insurance but destiny calls and he returns to Warsaw and The Cypher Bureau.

There he is supplied with a commercial Enigma machine and a set of user manuals obtained by espionage. Marian sets out alone to break the Enigma code. His work is carried out with utmost secrecy. In 1932 he cracks the code but that is only the beginning. The Germans modify their Enigma to make the codes more secure and the code breakers at The Cypher Bureau have to intensify their efforts. Every night at midnight the codes change and a new race against the clock begins. Secrecy is paramount. The Germans must not find out their code is no longer secure. As the possibility of war with Germany increases, the work of The Cypher Bureau becomes more desperate. The messages have to be de-coded urgently and time is running out.

(The Book Guild, 2018)

Get your copy of The Cypher Bureau from:

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Adventure

About the Author, Eilidh McGinness

Eilidh McGinness lives in France and started writing a few years ago. Eilidh is a fully qualified lawyer. She studied law at Aberdeen University and completed her training in Aberdeen-shire. Eilidh was born in Dingwall, Scotland. She is a member of the Bordeaux Writers Group, An Aquitaine Historical Society and The Franco-British Chamber of Commerce. Check out McGinness’ website and connect with her on Twitter.

The Cypher Bureau by Eilidh McGinness

International Book Giveaway

We have 2 paperback copies of Eilidh McGinness’ The Cypher Bureau to giveaway.

  • Open worldwide, entries close midnight 4 November 2018
  • You can also improve your chance of winning by spreading the word via Twitter , Pinterest/Instagram and Facebook/Google+/Webpage
  • The 2 winners will be randomly selected and announced on our Facebook Page. Winners must respond to an email requesting their mailing address. If they fail to respond within 5 business days, the prize will be forfeited and another winner chosen.

SORRY, ENTRIES CLOSED – See winners announcement