News Article

GCHQ launches a new biography of our first Head, Commander Alastair Denniston

Last Updated: 13 Sep 2017
We marked the life and achievements of our first Head, Commander Alastair Denniston, by hosting the launch of a new biography.

News article - 13 Sep 2017


He is wearing a 3-piece suit and tie.
Denniston, 1926. ©By kind permission of Judith Finch, granddaughter
On 7th September, we were honoured to host the launch of a new biography of our first Head, Alastair Denniston, in our museum, that had been specially adorned with artefacts from his life. Written by Dr Joel Greenberg, "Alastair Denniston: Code-Breaking from Room 40 to Berkeley Street and the Birth of GCHQ" charts the career of a man held in the highest esteem at GCHQ, as the values he promoted of ingenuity, teamwork, and authenticity, are ones that still bind us today.

Amongst the invited guests were members of Alastair Denniston’s family including his niece and god-daughter Libby Buchanan and his grandchildren as well as senior representatives from Bletchley Park and GCHQ. The Denniston family were thrilled that their relative was being given recognition for his achievements. On the day, Dr Greenberg also signed copies of the book for our workforce and gave an insightful talk on his experiences of writing the book. 

Alastair Denniston holds a special place in our history and the history of our country.  He was the first person to lead the organisation that became GCHQ and his vision for signals intelligence, the culture he fostered, and values he wanted his workforce to display - ingenuity, teamwork and integrity - not only enabled the team at Bletchley Park to break the Enigma cipher, but also laid the foundations of today's GCHQ.