The Blagger's Guide To...Books by Prime Ministers' spouses

When Lego men posed a threat to world peace

*Launched on Thursday, Sarah Brown's Behind the Black Door (Ebury Press, £18.99) does indeed tell the avid Downing Street-watcher something that we never knew: namely that Gordon Brown is emotionally intelligent, fun, "lovely" and "gorgeous".

We also learn that he is rubbish in the kitchen and so untidy that when his student flat was burgled, police told him it had been "ransacked". (Most of it actually hadn't been touched.) But where Mrs Brown really is revealing is on the weird juxtaposition of family life and political power: a near-diplomatic incident when President Karzai met little Fraser's Lego men; being woken up by Baroness Vadera... We also learn that the Queen is a good driver, that George Bush is a fan of British historians, and "the first rule of being egged: look down so that the television cameras don't get a clear shot of your horrified face".

*Cherie Blair had already discussed No 10's privacy issues in her 2004 book The Goldfish Bowl (Vintage). "Officials can and do come in and out...at all hours of the night," she wrote. She was rather more revealing (rather too revealing) in her 2008 autobiography, Speaking for Myself (Little, Brown), which revealed that her son Leo was conceived at Balmoral, where she was too embarrassed to have her contraceptives go through a security search. "To be honest, I think [Tony] skipped over quite a lot of those [sex] bits," she later opined. "It's not his scene, is it? He's a man. I don't think you'll be finding much about those type of things in his book." If only...

*Norma Major's Chequers: The Prime Minister's Country House and Its History (Little, Brown) was the first book to mention that, from the First World War until early in Tony Blair's term, a golliwog had pride of place. "Chequers does not belong to the Government," said a spokesman. "It is run by Chequers' trustees. The golliwog is a matter for them."

*Contrary to popular opinion, Denis Thatcher did not actually write the "Dear Bill" letters that appeared in Private Eye under his name. However, Carol Thatcher's Below the Parapet: The Biography of Denis Thatcher (Harper Collins, £8.99) claimed the spoof letters often got it spot on – particularly regarding the gin.

*Another successful Private Eye parody was Mrs Wilson's Diary, purportedly by Mary Wilson. But her own Selected Poems (Hutchinson, 1970) did even better. The hardback edition sold 75,000 copies, at 12 shillings each, in an era when only three living poets (Wilson, Marc Bolan and Bob Dylan) had mass-market success. She even wrote about the Cold War in "After the Bomb". She also replied to John Betjeman's poem "A Mind's Journey to Diss", writing in her own poem: "Dear John, Yes it is perfect bliss To go with you by train to Diss!"

*Described by the historian Andrew Roberts as "the last great British autobiography of the pre-war and wartime era", the memoir of Eden's wife and Churchill's niece Clarissa Eden, From Churchill to Eden (Phoenix, 2007), reads like an Evelyn Waugh novel as she shimmers through café society, dropping names such as Sackville-West, Mitford, Beaton, Pinter and Waugh himself. Eden's bitchy asides make Mrs Brown's furious comments about her husband's detractors look positively friendly. Meeting her uncle's wife, who had just had an early facelift, she wrote: "The wax had run down her cheeks so she looked like one of Leonardo's anatomical drawings."

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished

TV reviewGrace Dent: Jimmy McGovern's new drama sheds light on sex slavery in the colonies

Arts and Entertainment
Australia's Eurovision contestant and former Australian Idol winner Guy Sebastian

Eurovision 2015Australian Idol winner unveiled as representative Down Under

Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl
filmFirst look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month
TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel
film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable