Margaret Thatcher: A look at her life through the Conservative Party Archive

Lady Thatcher, who died on Monday 8 April 2013, was part of a distinguished line of twenty-six British Prime Ministers educated at Oxford University, where she studied Chemistry at Somerville College between 1943-1947 under the supervision of Dorothy Hodgkin (with whom she continued an occasional correspondence well into the 1980s; see Hodgkin Papers and Additional Hodgkin Papers, Bodleian Library).

Thatcher's political career is fully captured in documents held within the Conservative Party Archive at the Bodleian, from canvassing in Oxford during the 1945 General Election campaign and her tenure as President of the Oxford University Conservative Association in 1946 to her long struggle for election to Parliament. The material covers her range of junior posts and eventually her appointment to Heath’s Shadow Cabinet in 1967 and then as Education Secretary in the 1970-1974 Conservative Government, Leader of the Conservative Party from 1975, and finally Prime Minister, 1979-1990.

Below is a chronological selection of material from the Conservative Party Archive which illustrates Thatcher's rise through the Conservative Party ranks between 1949-1979.
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