Clemency White is an agent for MI6.
The period of time for her adventures is the mid-60s, a time when the attitude by most men in the intelligence communities was that women were not really meant out in the field, all evidence from World War II apparently notwithstanding.
Thanks to a briefing provided by White for a review of her activities [portobellobookblog.com], White was born in Dorset in 1945, growing up in the country. One of the interesting things she learned in those early years was how to go into the woods and "move without making a sound", something "I never dreamt I'd be using those skills for Queen and Country". In 1962 at age 17, she moved to London where "a friend got me an interview with the Foreign Office, training as a cypher clerk. Six months late I was at the British Embassy in Berne. That's where I met Peter". The Peter named was Peter Aspinal, an agent for MI6 and the man who would need a cover, pick her apparently at random, and changed her life and career forever.
We meet her for the first time when she was a new guy at the Embassy in Switzerland, being the one who routinely pulled the late shifts and the weekend duty and all the lousy tasks that more senior people took delight in shuffing onto the juniors. She was so tasked with the dashing Major Peter Aspinall popped his head into the office she worked with her immediate supervisor and another worker; said Second Secretary for Cultural Affairs - aka MI6 resident agent - needed a bit of help in a cover and going out as a couple was less conspicuous that being alone and would Miss White be interested in getting out of the stuffy office for some fresh air.
She would, of course, and that is how this now 18-year old beauty with an impressive talent for languages found herself side-by-side with a genuine intelligence operative. It is also how, as that simple 'assignment' became more complicated and more of a mission, she got deeper involved in the cloak and dagger world. It is also how, when some things go very wrong, she finds she has to appeal to Aspinall's help and they respond with an offer for full-time employment.