Margaret Thatcher was 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.
© 1996, Crown copyright photograph.
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1979 - Earl Mountbatten is assassinated by Irish terrorists. The Ayatollah Khomeni and his Islamic Revolution take power in Iran. The city of Brighton opens the first nudist beach in England.
1980 - Ronald Reagon is elected president of the United States. Former Beatle John Lennon is shot dead outside his New York apartment. Southern Rhodesia becomes Zimbabwe, an independent nation.
1982 - British troops retake the Falkland Islands from Argentina.
1983 - £25 million in gold bars is robbed from the Brinks Mat warehouse at London's Heathrow Airport.
1984 - Britain agrees to give control of Hong Kong back to China in 1997. Ronald Reagon is re-elected president of the United States.
1985 - The Italian cruise ship "Achille Lauro" is seized by Palestinian terrorists.
1986 - The Australia Bill, signed by the Queen, severs all constitutional ties with Britain. Lloyd Honeyghan becomes undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
1987 - Great Britain and the European Ryder Cup Team defeat the US for the first time on American soil. The worst hurricane on record to hit British soil strikes southern England causing much damage and killing 17. "Black Monday" on Wall Street, and its ripple effect, wipe out millions on markets around the world. Charlie Chaplin's bowler and cane are sold at Christies in London for £82,500. His boots go for £38,500.
1988 - Armenians are massacred in the Soviet republic of Azerbaijan over regional dispute with Muslims. June - (Kingston, Jamaica) Reggae poet Dennis Loban is sentenced to hang, found guilty of the murder of reggae star Peter Tosh. The Cardinal of Turin, Italy, confirmed that scientific tests had dated the origin of the famous Shroud of Turin around 1260 to 1390. Liverpool scientist etch an image of Marilyn Monroe on a area smaller than a pinhead using the newly invented field emission electron microscope.
1989 - The world's largest litter bin is unveiled in Covent Gardens. George Bush is elected president of the United States. Nick Faldo becomes the first Englishman to win The Masters. The "Guildford Four," serving prison terms for IRA bombings in Guildford and Woolwich have their convictions quashed. US TV preacher, Jim Bakker, sentence to 45 years and fined $500,000 for swindling his followers out of millions. Pope John Paul II and Gorbachev end a 70 year cold war between the Roman Catholic Church and the Soviet Union.
1990 - Daily rum rations for sailors aboard Royal New Zealand Navy ships are stopped.
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