Cherie Blair to write book about wives at Number 10

As consorts to the most powerful politicians in the land, they have balanced the vital duty of not yawning at diplomatic dinners with other pursuits such as penning verse and, in one case, giving birth to 13 children.

Now, it seems, the latest occupant of the role of Prime Minister's wife is to set a precedent by writing a history of the experiences of women who have taken on the burden – including herself. Cherie Blair is working on a biography of prime ministerial spouses for several months by interviewing former Downing Street insiders.

The book, which she is jointly writing with Cate Haste, wife of the New Labour peer Melvyn Bragg, will be a first venture into print for Mrs Blair beyond her contributions to legal journals in her role as a leading barrister.

Downing Street refused to comment on the book yesterday, saying only that it was a "private matter".

But the claim that the book is to include an account by Mrs Blair of her life at Number 10 attracted criticism for exploiting the grey area between the private and public lives of the Blairs.The Prime Minister's wife has fiercely maintained the privacy of her family, including taking out an injunction against a former nanny, Rosalind Mark, who tried to publish a book about her time with the Blairs.

She has also kept a low profile since last year's "Cheriegate" scandal over her purchase of two flats with the help of a convicted conman during which she spoke of the pressures of being a QC, mother, wife and charity worker, saying: "There just aren't enough hours in the day".

Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat MP, said: "Once again, it blurs the lines between the political and the private. She has a very privileged position and the book will no doubt be sympathetic to the Labour project."

Mrs Blair is understood to have started work on the book late last year at the height of the row over her dealings with the Australian fraudster Peter Foster, the partner of her friend and spiritual adviser Carole Caplin.

It is claimed that among the string of interviewees Mrs Blair has invited to the family flat in Downing Street is Lady Margaret Colville, the wife of the private secretary to Winston Churchill.

Mrs Blair has previously been criticised for using Downing Street for her private work after she hosted case meetings there with colleagues from her legal chambers.

The Prime Minister's wife will not be short of material for her work. From Elizabeth Wrottesley, second wife of the Duke of Grafton (Prime Minister from 1767 to 1770) and mother of 13 of his 16 children, to Audrey Callaghan, who avoided appearing in public, the role has long required its holders to balance the demands of domestic life with the thrust of politics.

Among the more colourful of recent prime ministerial partners, on whom Mrs Blair is thought to be concentrating, is Mary Wilson, wife of Harold, who acquired a significant public profile through her poetry writing and refusal to live at Number 10, and Clementine Churchill, who was not averse to shaking her head in disagreement when she sat behind her husband on a public platform. Whether or not Dennis Thatcher has been accorded the status of an honorary Number 10 wife is not known.

Neither Mrs Blair nor Ms Haste, who has had several works published including a history of sex in Britain, are thought to have approached a publisher about the project. It is not known whether Mrs Blair plans to profit financially from the book or donate the proceeds to charity.The only precedent for such matters is her immediate predecessor in Downing Street, Norma Major, who kept the royalties from her coffee-table tome on Chequers, the prime minister's country retreat.

Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
News
London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Central London - £45,000-£55,000 + bonus

£45000 - £55000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: The focus of this is to deve...

Application Support - Enterprise Java, SQL, Oracle, SQL Server

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A well-established financial soft...

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape