LONDON // The authorised biography of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher hit bookshops yesterday, revealing an intimate side to the Iron Lady, including her first impressions of future husband Denis.
It also shows the personal toll the 1982 conflict with Argentina over the Falkland Islands took on her; and reveals the secret talks she allowed government officials to hold with the IRA.
Thatcher chose Charles Moore, a journalist, to write her life story, Margaret Thatcher - The Authorised Biography: Volume One: Not For Turning, giving him unique access to a treasure trove of personal and government papers on condition the book was released only after her death.
It charts her childhood and her first romance, which started while she was a student in wartime Oxford, and tracks her political rise up to what many consider her finest achievement, the defence of the Falkland Islands in the 1982 conflict with Argentina. A second volume will cover her later life in government and her retirement.
Moore's book describes how Thatcher, who died on April 8 aged 87, was not entirely impressed with future husband Denis on their first meeting.
He is, she wrote, "not a very attractive creature - very reserved but quite nice".
She described the former army captain as "about 36, plenty of money" - and unpopular with workers at the paint works he ran because he was "far too belligerent in dealing with them".
The book reveals how Thatcher set up her sister Muriel with her future husband, Willie Cullen, despite dating the farmer herself at the time.
The book gives a detailed account of her rise through the ranks of the Conservative Party and shows the battles she faced as a woman in the male-dominated world of politics - a male cabinet colleague described her as that "bloody woman".
"Her job is to sign them [letters], not read them," he added.
Another passage reveals her ignorance of the machinations of government. On arriving in Downing Street she asked Ken Stowe, a senior civil servant: "Ken, what do I do now?", to which he replied: "You've got to form an administration."
The book also recounts how Denis found his wife sobbing on the end of their bed saying "Oh no, oh no. Another ship! All my young men!" after a night of heavy British casualties during the war against Argentina to reclaim the Falkland Islands.