Margaret Thatcher was born Britain's first female prime minister. A graduate of Somerville
College, Oxford, with a master of arts degree from the University of Oxford she worked as a
research chemist and a barrister, concentrating on tax law, before being elected to the House of
Commons in 1953. She held several ministerial appointments including education minister
(1970-74). Elected leader of her Party (the Opposition) in 1975, she became prime minister in
1979. Known as a strong leader and an "astute Parliamentary tactician, she knew how to handle
disagreement, no matter from which bench it issued.
In 1982 she ordered British troops to the Falkland Islands to retake them from Argentina. She
took a strong stand against the trade unions during the miner's strike (1984-85), and moved
Britain toward privatization, selling minor interests in public utilities to the business interests. She
also introduced "rate capping" which effectively took control of expenditures out of the hands of
city councils, part of her policies aimed at reducing the influence of local governments. In
1989, she introduced a community poll tax. In 1990, her cabinet was divided over issues
including the European Community which forced her resignation. In 1992, she entered the
House of Lords, created Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven. Her memoirs are being published by
HarperCollins. The first volume, "The Downing Street Years" was published in 1993.