Climbing the Bookshelves

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Virago Press, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 423 pages
2 Reviews
As a young child, Shirley Williams was encouraged by her father to climb the perilously high bookshelves of their London home. Born into the worlds of literature and politics, the daughter of Vera Brittain, pacifist and author of the famous Testament of Youth, and George Catlin, a leading political scientist, she seemed destined from an early age to go right to the top of British politics, announcing at the age of thirteen her intention to become a politician, and fighting her first general election at just twenty-four.
A member of the Labour Cabinets of Harold Wilson and James Callaghan, Shirley Williams became the co-founder (one of the Gang of Four) of the Social Democratic Party and was later Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords. For forty-five years, Baroness Williams of Crosby - as she became in 1993 - has been an important voice in British politics, Widely admired and respected. She has also been dubbed one of the most dangerous women in Britain, by elements of both the Left and Right.
As a child during the war, she was evacuated to America; a wonderful experience which gave her a fascination and fondness for that country. She has had a second career as a professor at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. She married twice: to Bernard Williams, the Oxford philosopher; and to Richard Neustadt, the leading expert on the US Presidency. She has a daughter, a stepdaughter and three grandchildren.
Shirley Williams' story is of a life that has been lived in the middle of some of the most turbulent events in postwar history, coinciding with changes that have altered out of all recognition the role of women in society. In this remarkable book, she describes the struggles and difficulties associated with being a top politician, as well as the highs and lows of a career packed with incident that continues today; not least as an international adviser on nuclear proliferation.
Climbing the Bookshelves is a memorable autobiography, the voice of a strong and passionate woman of luminous intelligence.

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User Review  - the.ken.petersen - LibraryThing

I like Shirley Williams, always have done. My first sojourn into party politics was with the SDP but, I am afraid that I broke away when the party merged with the Liberal Party. Shirley touches upon ... Read full review

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User Review  - elkiedee - LibraryThing

Now in her 80s, a British politician looks back over her long political career. Shirley Williams is perhaps most famous for being one of the Gang of Four, a group of MPs who broke away from the Labour ... Read full review


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About the author (2009)

Shirley Williams was born to Vera Brittain in 1930. She was a member of the Labour Party for 35 years before later becoming leader of the Liberal Democrats. She continues to lecture and serves as an advisor on Nuclear Proliferation to Gordon Brown.

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