Margaret Thatcher in fiction – her impact
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In his 2009 MA Dissertation The Blue River of Truth, Michael Johnston examined Margaret Thatcher in fiction, analysing the effect of the former British Prime Minister on 30 years of British literature.
THE BLUE RIVER OF TRUTH – ABSTRACT
Submitted on the thirtieth anniversary of her election victory, this dissertation studies the fiction of the past three decades to identify and discuss the impact of Margaret Thatcher on British literature. There seems to be evidence in the novels of the period immediately preceding 1979 of a rising tide of ‘bourgeois hysteria’ and support for a right-wing agenda. During her period in office, Thatcher became extremely unpopular with the arts and the academy who, like novelists perhaps, may have also been ‘scared’ of her. This did not prevent her winning three successive elections with decisive majorities. After she left office, and with the benefit of more mature reflection, some novelists submitted the lady herself, her policies and the behaviours of so-called Thatcherites to a reassessment. Not one novel, however, over the whole period, whether humorous, satirical, scabrous or critical, could be said to present a favourable image although a very limited number do seem to revel, vicariously, in the fruits of Thatcherism. Novels in the past five years seem to be moving out of her long shadow but there is scarcely any sign of a recurrence of hysterics by the bourgeoisie. Various academics and novelists have offered opinions on the reasons for the recent dearth of right-wing writing. Given the very substantial impact Thatcher had on the body politic, nationally and internationally, during and after her time in office, my conclusion is that there are surprisingly few novels which seem to engage productively with the dramatic potential of the period.