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Historical Highlight: Margaret Thatcher

blog cover - margaret thatcher

Date of Birth: October 13, 1925
Died On: April 8, 2013
Cause of Death: Stroke

10 Fascinating Facts About Margaret Thatcher

  • First female Prime Minister of the UK
  • Nicknamed “The Iron Lady”
  • Worked as a food scientist to help develop soft serve ice cream in the UK
  • Mother to twins, Mark and Carol
  • Was the longest serving Prime Minister of the 20th century for the UK
  • Was opposed to the EU
  • Enjoyed whiskey and sodas at the end of most days
  • Was born in parent’s apartment above her dad’s grocery store
  • Her favorite poet was Rudyard Kipling

Books Authored:

“The Downing Street Years”

“The Collected Speeches”

“The Path to Power”

“Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World”

Note: You can find signed copies of The Downing Street Years,” “The Path to Power,” and “The Collected Speeches” for sale here.

Early Political Career

Thatcher was elected as a Member of Parliament for Finchley. Thatcher ruffled feathers within her party in her maiden speech, by supporting a private member’s bill. This would be a continuous theme throughout her time in Parliament, going against party norms regarding homosexuality, abortion, and hare coursing. Raising quickly through the ranks of Parliament, Thatcher was selected by the United States Embassy to participate in the International Visitor Leadership Program. This was atypical because she was not yet a Shadow Cabinet member. However, she was described as a possible future Prime Minister to the State Department, and they approved her role for the program.

Continuing her trend of moving quickly through the ranks, Thatcher was appointed to the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Education and Science. While serving, Thatcher was often in the public spotlight because of the government’s attempts to cut spending. She gave priority to the academic needs of schools while administering expenditure cuts, which would eventually result in the removal of the free milk program. This would lead her to garner the nickname “Margaret Thatcher, Milk Snatcher.” It would eventually come out that she indeed, in fact, opposed the cuts and appropriation of funds, but the Treasury forced her hand.

Prime Minister (1979-1990)

On May 4, 1979, Margaret Thatcher became the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. During his time as Prime Minister, Thatcher met weekly with Queen Elizabeth II to discuss government business. Although it was rumored that these two developed a power struggle, it was denied by both parties involved. The economy under Thatcher started very poorly, but towards the end of her time was booming. It wasn’t until 1983 before the economy turned for the better under Thatcher. In 1983 inflation and mortgage rates fell to their lowest in 13 years. By 1987 unemployment was falling, the economy stable and the inflation rate was low.

Under Margaret Thatcher, the term “Thatcherism” was born. This described her style of politics and how she would lead the United Kingdom. Specifically, “a political platform emphasizing free markets with restrained government spending and tax cuts coupled with British nationalism both at home and abroad.” Privatization is a crucial piece of Thatcherism. Industries that were privatized under Thatcher were gas, water, and electricity. In most cases, the privatization of the UK benefited the consumers regarding lower prices and improved efficiency.

Thatcher also dealt with the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) and the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) during her time in office. These groups were prisoners who carried out hunger strikes to regain the status of political prisoners. As a result, violence increased during this period and eventually would lead to the deaths of 10 prisoners after Thatcher’s refusal. This would lead to an assassination attempt on Thatcher in 1984 by the PIRA. She would survive and eventually grant partial rights to paramilitary prisoners only.

Later Life

Thatcher’s premiership would end in 1990 after being contested by fellow Conservative Michael Heseltine. After losing the second vote against Thatcher initially wanted to challenge the vote and Heseltine, but after consultation, she would eventually succumb and resign as Prime Minister.

It was during her first few years out of power that she would pen two volumes of her memoirs, The Downing Streets Year and The Path to Power. During the time leading up to her death in 2013, Thatcher remained very active in the political world. She made speeches all over the globe on behalf of many different organizations. She was vocally supportive of the United States efforts in the Middle East during the George H. W. Bush administration.

In the years before 2013, Thatcher’s health began to decline. Despite being hospitalized a number of times before her passing, Thatcher attended as many events and ceremonies as physically possible.

On April 8, 2013, Margaret Thatcher passed away at the age of 83 after suffering from a stroke. At her funeral she received full military honors with Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in attendance, marking only the second time that the Queen had attended the funeral of a former Prime Minister.

The Downing Street Years

Deluxe limited edition of The Downing Street Years, signed by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Deluxe limited edition of The Downing Street Years, signed by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Octavo, [xiv], 914pp. Blue morocco, gilt title on spine, five raised bands. All gilt edges, clean pages. Sewn-in silk bookmark. Trace of sunning to the spine and point of wear to gilt title. Housed in the publisher’s matching slipcase. This is a limited edition of 250 signed copies, this being number 5, signed by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on the title page in blue pen.

This is a scarce copy from the set of finely bound, blue leather editions of the works of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, all from HarperCollins of London.

The Path to Power

Signed first edition of Path to Power by Margaret Thatcher. Octavo, xiv, 656pp. Maroon cloth spine with gilt title. Clean boards, text. First edition, second printing with number line ending at “2” on copyright page. Dust jacket near fine, retail price on front flap, minor shelf wear. Signed by former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to journalist and society columnist Aileen Mehle on bookplate, affixed to front end paper: “To Mrs. Aileen Mehle, All Good Wishes / Margaret Thatcher.”

Comments: Aileen Mehle, better known by her pen name Suzy Knickerbocker, was a nationally syndicated society columnist and journalist. In Television, she was known for her appearances on “What’s My Line” during the 1960s. She passed away in 2016 in New York City.

The Path To Power

Limited edition of The Path to Power by Margaret Thatcher, in leather and slipcase.

Signed limited edition of Path to Power by Margaret Thatcher.

Octavo, 656pp. Gilt title on spine, raised bands. Gilt leafends. Sewn-in silk bookmark. Dark blue leather binding. Original blue vellum slipcase. Limited edition of 500 signed copies, this being number 462. Signed by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on title page.

Comments: The most desirable set of signed books by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher are the English Edition, blue leather-bound editions featured here.

The Path To Power

Limited edition of Path To Power by Margaret Thatcher, in leather slipcase.

Limited edition of Path To Power by Margaret Thatcher. Octavo, 656pp. Gilt title on spine, raised bands. Gilt edges. Sewn-in silk bookmark. Dark blue leather binding, slight toning to spine when compared to other copies, almost indistinguishable. Original blue vellum slipcase. Limited edition of 500 signed copies, this being number 69. Signed by Prime Minister Thatcher on title page.

Comments: The most desirable set of signed books by Margaret Thatcher are the English Edition, blue leather bound editions featured here.

The Downing Street Years

Signed first edition, first printing of The Downing Street Years by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Signed first edition, first printing of The Downing Street Years by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Octavo, xiv, 914pp. Blue hardcover, black cloth spine, title stamped in gilt. Stated “first edition” with a full number line on the copyright page. This copy appears unread. Publisher’s dust jacket in fine condition, retail price on front flap. Signed on the title page by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

The Downing Street Years

Octavo, [xiv] 914pp, blue morocco, gilt title on spine, five raised bands. All gilt leafs, clean pages. Sewn-in silk bookmark. Publishers matching slipcase. This is a limited edition of 250 signed copies, this being number 226. It is signed by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on the title page in blue pen.
Comments: This is a scarce copy of the set of finely bound, blue leather editions of the works of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

The Downing Street Years

Limited edition of The Downing Street Years, signed by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and limited to 350 signed copies. Octavo, 914pp, gilt lettering on spine, blue cloth boards, light gray cloth spine, blue cloth slipcase. Publishers matching slipcase in fine condition. Signed limited edition of 350 copies for distribution in the United States, this is number 134, with an additional 26 lettered copies reserved for the author.

Comments: An excellent example of this limited edition work by Margaret Thatcher. An additional limited edition was released by Harper Collins in 1993, bound in deluxe blue leather and limited to 250 signed copies.

The Path to Power

Signed first edition of the Path to Power by Margaret Thatcher.

Signed first edition of the Path to Power by Margaret Thatcher.

Octavo, xiv, 656pp. Black cloth, title stamped in gilt on spine. This is the first trade edition, with no additional printings on the copyright page. In publisher’s fine dust jacket. Signed in blue pen on the publisher’s tipped-in leaf, before the title page. A fine example.

This is the second autobiographical work by former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. It was published by HarperCollins in 1995, both in this trade edition and a signed limited edition of 500 copies.

The Downing Street Years

Limited edition of The Downing Street Years, signed by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and limited to 350 signed copies.

Limited edition of The Downing Street Years, signed by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and limited to 350 signed copies.

Octavo, 914pp, Blue cloth boards, light gray cloth spine, gilt lettering on spine. In publisher’s matching blue cloth slipcase, light wear to boards, a very good example. Signed limited edition of 350 copies for distribution in the United States, this is number 143, with an additional 26 lettered copies reserved for the author.

An excellent example of this limited edition work by Margaret Thatcher. An additional limited edition was released by HarperCollins in 1993, bound in deluxe blue leather and limited to 250 signed copies.

The Downing Street Years

Octavo, 914pp. Black cloth spine with gilt title. Stated “first edition” on copyright page with full number line. Clean pages and boards. Dust jacket near fine, light shelf wear, retail price on front flap. Inscribed on bookplate affixed to front end paper: “To Aileen Mehle / Margaret Thatcher.” Additional signed note from Mr. Robert H. Higdon, a confidant of President Reagan who later became the Director of Fundraising for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. He also served as the Managing Director of the Margaret Thatcher Foundation.

Comments: Aileen Mehle, better known by her pen name Suzy Knickerbocker, was a nationally syndicated society columnist and journalist. In Television, she was known for her appearances on “What’s My Line” during the 1960s. She passed away in 2016 in New York City.

The Collected Speeches

Octavo, 666pp. Gilt title on spine, raised bands. Gilt leafs. Sewn-in silk bookmark. Dark blue morocco leather binding. Original blue vellum slipcase. Original paper wrap included. Limited edition of 200 signed copies, this being letter “D.” Signed by Prime Minister Thatcher on title page.
Comments: This copy was held back by the publisher for special distribution. The most desirable set of signed books by Margaret Thatcher are the English Edition, blue leather bound editions featured here.

Signed Photograph

Signed portrait of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Photograph was taken in 1977 by Bern Schwartz.

Signed portrait of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Photograph was taken in 1977 by Bern Schwartz.

This black and white portrait is framed, with blue matte. Gold frame, museum quality glass. Measures 12″ x 14″, in the frame. Signed in black pen along the bottom border of the photograph. A near fine example.

The Collected Speeches

Octavo, 666pp. Gilt title on spine, raised bands. Gilt leafs. Sewn-in silk bookmark. Dark blue morocco leather binding. Original blue vellum slipcase. Original paper wrap included. Limited edition of 200 signed copies, this being letter “F.” Signed by Prime Minister Thatcher on title page.
Comments: This copy was held back by the publisher for special distribution. The most desirable set of signed books by Margaret Thatcher are the English Edition, blue leather bound editions featured here.

The Autobiography

Deluxe limited edition of The Autobiography of Prime Minister John Major.

Deluxe limited edition of The Autobiography of John Major, signed by the author on the limitation page.

Octavo, 774pp. Dark blue morocco, title in gilt on spine, raised bands. Gilt leaf ends. Sewn-in silk bookmark. Dark blue morocco leather binding with light toning on spine when compared to the covers. Publisher’s blue vellum slipcase. This signed limited edition was limited to 100 signed copies and 26 lettered copies. This is one of the scarce lettered copies, being letter “E” of 26 lettered copies.

This book is part of a series of signed limited editions from Harper Collins Publishers of London, in deluxe blue leather binding. The other books from this series are from Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and include: Downing Street Years, The Path to Power and Collected Speeches.