Dame Stella speaks about her life and career as Former Director General of MI5 and as an international thriller author.
She is known to billions of people as the role model for the character “M” played by Dame Judi Dench in the James Bond 007 films. It is said that her own style influenced “M”’s wardrobe choices - who knows?
A best-selling thriller writer, Dame Stella chaired the Judging Panel for the Booker Prize for Fiction in 2012. The 10th book in her Liz Carlyle thriller series, The Moscow Sleepers, was published in 2018. The Devil’s Bargain, the first book of a new series with a female lead character, was published in March 2022.
Born in 1935, Stella Rimington was educated at Nottingham High School for Girls and Edinburgh University. She gained a Postgraduate Diploma in the Study of Records and the Administration of Archives at Liverpool University, and then worked in the Worcester County Record Office and the India Office Library, London.
In 1965, she accompanied her husband on a posting to the British High Commission in New Delhi, where she worked part-time for the Security Service, which had an office there. Returning to the UK in 1969, she joined the Service full-time and worked in all the main fields of the Service's responsibilities - counter-subversion, counter-espionage and counter-terrorism. She was the only person to become Director of all three branches.
Appointed Director General of MI5 in 1992, Stella Rimington was the first woman to take the post and the first Director General to be publicly named in the Government’s new spirit of open-ness. She retired in April 1996.
Made a Dame Commander of the Bath in the 1996 New Year Honours List, Dame Stella has Honorary Degrees from Universities including Nottingham, Warwick, Lucy Cavendish Cambridge and Exeter. Edinburgh University elected her as their “Alumna of the Year 1994”.
Formerly a Non-Executive Director of Marks & Spencer Plc, BG Group Plc, and an Associate Director of CPS, she was Chairman of the Institute of Cancer Research, Trustee of the Royal Marsden Hospital NHS Trust, and Honorary Air Commodore of 7006 (VR) Intelligence Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force and a Trustee of the RAF Museum.
A Governor of Town Close House Preparatory School in Norwich, she has two daughters and five grandchildren.