Mary McGeachy (1901-91) navigated the gender conventions of the twentieth century. Born a gospel preacher's daughter in small-town Ontario, she served in the League of Nations Secretariat in the 1930s and was employed by the British Ministry of Economic Warfare during World War II. In October 1942, she became the first woman to be given British diplomatic rank, and in 1944 was made Director of Welfare for the newly established United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, the only woman in an executive position. Later she served as president of the International Council of Women, an organization promoting women's rights and welfare. In Woman of the World, Mary Kinnear interprets McGreachy's international experiences through the lens of gender. As a Canadian with a commitment to international cooperation, her story is an important one. Building on archives from three continents, Kinnear's acute character study illuminates - at the individual level - important aspects of twentieth-century politics and society. Kinnear's biography also serves as an important contribution to political history, international relations, gender studies, and women's history.
It retrieves from obscurity a woman who enjoyed contemporary celebrity because of her achievements in a man's world.