Cover 9781785906039

A Waterstones Best Politics Book of the Year 2020


On the night Margaret Thatcher secured a third consecutive general election victory in June 1987, history was made by a daughter of Jamaican immigrants as she became the first black woman to be elected to Parliament. Diane Abbott entered the House of Commons at a time when there were no black MPs in Parliament and when fewer than 5 per cent of MPs were women. Three decades on and she is one of the best-known figures in Westminster.

Among her supporters, Abbott is a trailblazer who has remained true to her principles and to her community. For her opponents, she is a gaffe-prone politician who is out of her depth. Embarking on her political career in the radical left-wing Labour movement, she rose through the ranks of her party to the top of Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow Cabinet, making history again as the first black person to shadow one of the great offices of state.

Diane Abbott: The Authorised Biography draws on original interviews with Abbott herself, her friends, her colleagues and her political opponents, as well as extensive archival research, to tell her remarkable story. Tracing Abbott’s path from her upbringing in north London on to Cambridge University, through roles in the civil service and the media, and from local politics into the heart of Westminster, this is a nuanced portrait of one of the most fascinating figures in British politics


“Diane is a fearless trailblazer whose record of breaking down barriers, overcoming obstacles and fighting injustice is truly inspirational. When I entered Parliament, Diane was the only other black woman in the Commons, and I have had the honour and privilege of working alongside her in fighting for justice and equality over many years. I’m delighted that her amazing story is finally being showcased, and it is beautifully captured in this brilliant book.”

Dawn Butler MP

“When someone is talked about as much as Diane Abbott is, it’s easy to assume you know everything about her. But after this compelling read many will find they knew little at all. Diane earned the title trailblazer long before she stepped into the political arena, and her achievements far exceed the frequent misrepresentations. In this meticulously researched political biography, the story of the first black woman elected to Parliament is not only brought to life, it’s brought into context.”

Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP

“As this excellent biography shows, Diane’s story is about staying power in the best traditions of the Caribbean community. Proud of her Jamaican working-class background, she made it to Cambridge, worked in media and the unions and was elected a councillor and MP. At every stage of her life she has defied the odds. She has suffered more racist abuse and vilification than anyone else but she always holds her principles and integrity aloft. An inspiration to this and succeeding generations!”

Jeremy Corbyn
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  • Hardback, 554 pages
  • ISBN: 9781785906039
  • 24 September 2020
  • £20.00

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  • ISBN: 9781785906275
  • 24 September 2020
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