Margaret Hilda Thatcher was born October 13, 1925, the daughter of a grocer who was active in local politics as borough councilor, alderman and mayor of Grantham. She went from elementary school to Kesteven and Grantham Girl’s High School, won a bursary to Somerville College, Oxford, and obtained a degree in Natural Science (B.S.). She is also a Master of Arts (M.A.) of Oxford University.
While an undergraduate, Lady Thatcher was president of the Oxford University Conservative Association. She contested two parliamentary elections for the Conservative Party, in 1950 and 1951, before being elected to the House of Commons in 1959 as Member for Finchley. Lady Thatcher’s first ministerial appointment came in 1961, when she became a parliamentary Secretary to the then Minister of Pensions and National Insurance, remaining in this position until the change of Government in 1964. From 1964 to 1970, while the Conservatives were in Opposition, she was front-bench spokesman for her party in House of Commons, and from 1967 a member of the Shadow Cabinet. When the Conservatives returned to office in June, 1970, she was appointed Secretary of State for Education and Science and was made a Privy Counsellor. After the general election of February 1974, she was appointed to the Shadow Cabinet and became Opposition front-bench spokesman, first on the environment and later on Treasury matters. She was elected Leader of the Conservative Party and thus Leader of the Opposition in February 1975.
Lady Thatcher was Britain’s first female Prime Minister. She was appointed First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service on May 4, 1979, following the success of the Conservative Party in the general election the previous day. When the Conservative Party subsequently won the general elections of June 9, 1983 and June 11, 1987, Lady Thatcher became the first British Prime Minister this century to successfully contest three consecutive general elections.
Lady Thatcher resigned on November 28, 1990. In December 1990, she was awarded the Order of Merit by Her Majesty The Queen. On June 30, 1992, she was elevated to the House of Lords.