About Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher changed the way people saw women in politics. When she grew up she became Great Britain’s first female prime minister. Not only that, she was prime minister for longer than anyone else in the twentieth century. Eleven years! She was a member of Britain’s Conservative Party and won three elections in a row. Margaret was not afraid to speak her mind, and not everyone liked her way of thinking. One journalist even called her the “Iron Lady.” The nickname stuck, but that didn’t affect Margaret. She stayed true to herself and is remembered as one of the most important politicians in Great Britain’s history.
Margaret was born in 1925 in the small town of Grantham, England. Her parents, Alfred and Beatrice, ran a grocery store. Margaret lived above the store with her parents and older sister, Muriel. Margaret and Muriel both attended a local public school in town and sometimes worked at the grocery.
Her parents were Methodists and often helped neighborhood charities. Margaret’s father was also the mayor of the town. She liked listening to him talk about what was happening in the world. This made her get interested in politics.
For fun, Margaret would go to the cinema, which was a new thing back then. She loved movies! She also enjoyed listening to the radio.
Science or Politics?
Margaret went to Oxford University where she studied chemistry. As a student, she became more interested in politics. Although Margaret loved chemistry, she decided to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a politician.
She never forgot chemistry though. She often said that she was more proud to be the first prime minister with a science degree than to be the first female prime minister.
Margaret’s Political Life
Margaret ran for the parliamentary seat in Dartford when she was just in her twenties. (Parliament is responsible for making British law.) She lost, twice. Then she returned to school to get her law degree.
Although Margaret lost the election, she never lost her ability to get people to listen to her and she spoke easily to people. In 1959, Margaret finally won a seat in the House of Commons. From there she rose up to become the first woman to lead the Conservative Party in 1975. And then, in 1979, she became the prime minster of Great Britain.
Being Prime Minister
As prime minister, Margaret changed many things in England. By the end of the 1980s the British economy was much stronger and more people had jobs. Margaret was considered responsible for the country’s prosperity and stability.
Being a Woman in Politics
Although Margaret Thatcher became popular as prime minister, she was often criticized because she was a woman in politics. She was once asked by Parliament if she found it hard to balance career and the duties as a mother. She often did not like being asked to explain her work and family circumstances.
Later in life, Margaret wrote two best-selling memoirs while touring the world as a speaker. In 2011, a movie based on her life called The Iron Lady came out. It starred Meryl Streep who plays Margaret.