Thatcher Authorized a Posthumous Biography

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 8 2013 4:49 PM

Thatcher Authorized a Posthumous Biography

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A journalist holds a copy of a book on former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher outside 10 Downing Street in London, on April 8, 2013

Photo by Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

In 1997, writer Charles Moore was commissioned to write an authorized biography of Margaret Thatcher. But as part of the agreement with the former prime minister, the book would only be published after Thatcher's death. Now that the Iron Lady has passed, it looks like the publisher is waiting no time in getting the first volume of the biography into stores: Penguin imprint Allen Lane will publish Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography, Volume One: Not for Turning "immediately following her funeral," they announced today.

Here are more details on the two-volume biography, from "The Bookseller:"

"Moore was given full access to Thatcher’s private papers and interviewed her extensively, as well as speaking to her family and those who worked with her. Permission was also given to civil servants to speak to Moore about Thatcher, and he was given early access to government papers held back under the 30-year rule. Thatcher did not read the manuscript before her death."
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Allen Lane also released a statement from one of the publisher's directors on the book (which, of course, is full of high praise):

"Charles Moore’s biography of Margaret Thatcher immediately supercedes all earlier books written about her. Having worked closely with Baroness Thatcher on both volumes of her autobiography, and read all the other main books about her, I was astonished at how much Moore says which has never been public before. At the moment when she becomes a historical figure, this book also makes her into a three dimensional one for the first time. It gives unparalleled insight into her early life and formation, especially through her extensive correspondence with her sister, which Moore is the first author to draw on. It recreates brilliantly the atmosphere of British politics as she was making her way, and takes her up to what was arguably the zenith of her power, victory in the Falklands. (This volume ends with the Falklands Dinner in Downing Street in November 1982.) Moore is clearly an admirer of his subject, but he does not shy away from criticising her or identifying weaknesses and mistakes where he feels it is justified. It is, by any standards, an exceptionally impressive book and to be publishing it at this moment is a rare privilege."

According to the Associated Press, Thatcher's funeral should be some time next week. Only volume one is ready for insta-publishing by then: the second volume of the biography, which will cover Thatcher's life from 1982 onward, is still being written. Thatcher has already published two memoir volumes, The Downing Street Years and The Path To Power.

In the USA, Alfred A. Knopf will publish the Thatcher biography.

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Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.

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