Cover exceeding my brief

From an idyllic childhood growing up in Cornwall, to working as press officer at No. 10, Downing Street for two Prime Ministers. Barbara Hosking had a remarkable career in British politics, and found herself at the centre of power during a testing time in both domestic and world politics. She subsequently went on to become part of the rise and development of breakfast television. Exceeding My Brief is also the very personal story of her struggle with her sexuality as a bewildered teenager and as a young woman in the 1950s, a time when being gay could mean social ostracism.

Born during the General Strike in 1926, Barbara Hosking made her way through London typing pools in the 1950s, to executive posts in the Labour Party, then to No. 10 as press officer to Harold Wilson and Edward Heath. It was a journey that subsequently saw her serve as deputy chairwoman of Westcountry Television, an ITV company, before joining the governing board of Independent Television.

Hosking pens vivid and revealing portraits of prominent politicians from the age, those she worked with Nye Bevan, Barbara Castle, Harold Wilson and Edward Heath. She was at No. 10 as the terrorist attack took place during the Olympic Games held in Munich, 1972, and she witnessed the initialling of the Treaty of Rome when Britain entered the then Common Market.

An enthralling read of a long life well lived, Exceeding My Brief  is filled with plenty of anecdotes, about both Barbara’s private and working lives.  





Barbara writes with warmth and enthusiasm about politics and women, and her book is full of her mischievous Cornish personality.  

Baroness Boothroyd OM

Barbara Hosking wields a vivid pen sharpened by her keen eye for character, mood and episode.  This is a memoir of true warmth and insight.

Peter Hennessy

If ever a girl picked herself up, dusted herself down and started all over again, it is Barbara Hosking. This book fulfils an ambition at the age of ninety-one. What a girl! It is a frank, fascinating and sometimes moving tale of her progress from nether Cornwall to serving two Prime Ministers, becoming a ministerial private secretary and then working to raise the standing of women in public life.

Sir Bernard Ingham

"[A] warm, funny and illuminating book that guides readers through one woman’s journey down the corridors of Whitehall and through a slowly changing society. She did so at a time when being a woman and, in Barbara’s case, a gay woman meant the path was strewn with obstacles. It is a tribute to her guts, her resilience and her charm that she has emerged triumphant."

Sue Cameron, Civil Service World

"A remarkable tale, well told and often insightful. There don’t seem to be many Barbara Hoskings around anymore."

The National

A timely arrival on to the crowded political memoir market […]Hosking is probably the most influential woman you’ve never heard of.

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  • Hardback
  • ISBN: 9781785903557
  • 21 November 2017
  • £25.00

  • Hardback, 384 pages
  • ISBN: 9781785903557
  • 21 November 2017
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