Margaret Hilda Thatcher's overwhelming sense of self-confidence and ambition ruled her life from the time she was a small child in Grantham, though her Oxford years and during her early years in politics. It led her to become the first female Prime Minister of Great Britain, and also helped through her difficult political years as "Attila the Hun".
Britain's first female Prime Minister was born on October 13, 1925 in a small room over a grocer's shop in Grandham, England. Margaret Hilda was the second daughter of Alfred and Beatrice Roberts. She often stated that she was brought up very strictly:
I owe everything in my life to two things: a good home, and a good education. My home was ordinary, but good in the sense that my parents were passionately interested in the future of my sister and myself. At the same time, they gave us a good education - not only in school, but at home as well (Gardiner, 1975, p.13).
As a child, thrift and practicality were instilled in Margaret's character. The Methodist church played an active part in the lives of the Roberts. She attended good schools as a child and spent her years studying with the intent of attending Oxford. Margaret arrived at Oxford in the autumn of 1943. During her years here, Margaret worked in a canteen for the war effort, continued her interest in music by joining various choirs and joined the Oxford University Conservative Association where she became very active in it's political activities.
After Oxford, Margaret became the youngest female candidate of the Dartford Association. She was unofficially engaged to Denis Thatcher at this time, and they married in December 1951. Twins were born the following year. During this period, she studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1954. In the same year she was a candidate for the Oysington Conservative Association.
Margaret won in a Tory landslide at Finchley, a suburb of London in 1959. Her parliamentary career had begun. A stroke of good luck gave her the opportunity of presenting her first bill almost immediately. This bill was to allow the press to attend the meetings of the local councils. The bill was eventually passed and it greatly enhanced her reputation. In 1964 she was part of the opposition and saw the other side of politics. Between 1970 and 1974 Thatcher was the Secretary of State for Education and Science. She enjoyed the tough verbal conflict of parliamentary debates. She had a quick mind and an even quicker tongue, along with an enormous self-confidence. She liked to fight and liked to win.
In 1975, the Conservatives were the first party in Britain to chose a woman as leader and potential Prime Minister:
It was the backbenchers, not the Leader, or his Shadow Cabinet, who forced a ballot, and it was a backbenchers- candidate who emerged triumphant from it. When the election was announced on January 23, and in the first ballot Margaret had the support of only one member of a Shadow Cabinet of 23 she was regarded with suspicion by most of those managing the party machine at Central Office, and opposed by many in the National Union. In short, she was an anti- establishment candidate. Her campaign manager was a backbencher, backbenchers of varying shades of opinion made up her campaign committee who voted decisively for change(Gardiner, 1975, p.204).
In May 1979, Thatcher became the first female Prime Minister of Great Britain. Her party won again in 1983 and 1987. Thatcher resigned as Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party in November 1990, after loosing the support of the party. She remained in the House of Commons until 1992. In the same year, Thatcher was made a Baroness by the queen and became a member of the House of Lords.
Abse, author of "Margaret daughter of Beatrice" paints an entirely different picture of Thatcher's family background. In his psycho-biography, he describes Margaret's mother as strict,...