Birthday: September 18, 1949
Died At Age: 55
Sun Sign: Virgo
Also Known As: Marjorie Mowlam
Born Country: England
Born in: Watford, Hertfordshire, England, United Kingdom
Famous as: Politician
Spouse/Ex-: Jon Norton (m. 1995)
Died on: August 19, 2005
place of death: Canterbury, Kent, England, United Kingdom
Cause of Death: Brain Tumor
City: Hertfordshire, England, Watford, England
education: Coundon Court, Durham University, The University of Iowa, Trevelyan College, Durham
Who was Mo Mowlam?
Mo Mowlam was a firebrand British politician and one of the chief architects of the 'Good Friday Agreement,' also known as 'Belfast Agreement,' which brought peace to the region of Northern Ireland. Interested in politics from a tender age, she worked her way up to be a member of the ‘Labour Party’ and eventually became a member of the parliament from Redcar, England. She represented the region until 2001. Known for her outspokenness and her ability to speak without mincing words, she was a tough and determined politician. She served in the shadow cabinet when ‘Labour’ was in the opposition. When ‘Labour’ formed the government after their victory at the 1997 general elections, she was made the secretary of state for Northern Ireland. Two years later, she was appointed as the minister for the ‘Cabinet Office’ and the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
Childhood & Early Life
Mo Mowlam was born Marjorie Mowlam, on September 18, 1949, in Watford, Hertfordshire, England. She was the second of the three children of Tina and Frank. She was raised in Coventry, England.
Her mother, Tina, worked as a telephonist, and her father, Frank, was an assistant postmaster in the U.K.
She was the only one of the Mowlam children to clear the 11-plus examination. Following this, she attended the ‘Chiswick Girls' Grammar School.’ She later graduated from 'Coundon Court' in Coventry. While in school, she was not only studious but also active in extracurricular activities such as sports, debate, and theater. She also became the head girl of the school.
In 1968, she attended 'Trevelyan College,' affiliated to the 'Durham University,' and studied sociology and anthropology.
She became a member of the 'Labour Party' in her freshman year. In 1969, she became the secretary of the 'Durham Union Society.' She was later chosen as the vice-president of the 'Durham Student's Union.'
She also worked with ‘Labour’ MP Tony Benn in London and American writer Alvin Toffler in New York.
She wished to obtain a PhD in political science from the 'University of Iowa’ and thus moved to the U.S.A. Her dissertation was on the “Swiss system of referenda.”
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In 1977, after acquiring her doctorate degree, Mowlam taught political science at the 'University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee,’ Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.A., for a short period. In 1977, she joined the political science department of the 'Florida State University' in Tallahassee, Florida, U.S.A. She served in this position until 1979, when she returned to England.
She joined the ‘University of Newcastle upon Tyne,' New Castle, England, as a faculty member. She also worked in the adult education program at 'Northern College,' Barnsley, England.
Mowlam was not selected as a candidate for the 1983 general election.
In 1987, she was chosen as the candidate for the Redcar constituency and won the elections. Later that year, she was made the spokesperson on Northern Ireland.
She became one of the co-creators of the party's 'Prawn Cocktail Offensive,' the purpose of which was to gain the confidence of the U.K.'s financial sector on the party's fiscal rectitude.
She became a member of the ‘Shadow Cabinet’ in 1992. On July 18, 1992, she was named the “Shadow Chancellor” of the Duchy of Lancaster and the “Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities.” She held the latter post until October 21, 1993, but relinquished the former position on September 29, 1992. She then became the “Shadow Secretary of State for National Heritage.”
In 1994, after successfully campaigning for Tony Blair's ‘Labour’ leadership, she attained the title of the “Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland” on October 20, 1994. However, she was initially hesitant to accept the role, as she desired an economic portfolio. Nevertheless, after taking up the post, she committed herself to the job until May 2, 1997.
After the 'Labour Party' was voted to power in the 1997 general elections, she was appointed as the secretary of state for Northern Ireland on May 3, 1997. She had the distinction of becoming the first woman to take charge of this position.
In this capacity, she spearheaded the peace talks with the 'Irish Republican Army' and the 'Protestant Unionists, ' which finally concluded in April 1998, with the signing of the 'Good Friday Agreement.'
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For a lot of unpleasant reasons, such as her failing health and her waning popularity, especially among the ‘Protestant Unionists,’ she was removed from the post of the secretary of state of Northern Ireland and made the minister for the ‘Cabinet Office’ and the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and served in this position until June 7, 2001.
On September 4, 2000, she declared her willingness to retire and gave up the Redcar seat, which she had held for 14 years continuously, at the 2001 general elections.
She championed the anti-drugs policy of the government and campaigned for international legislation.
Her Post-Retirement Life.
After she retired from active politics, she continued to remain in the political scene mostly as a critic of the government and its policies. She participated in the anti-Iraq war protests.
She contributed to the men's magazine ‘Zoo,’ as an agony aunt.
She set up the charitable organization ‘MoMo Helps' to rehabilitate drug users and extend support to parents and caregivers of children with challenges.
Family & Personal Life
Mowlam married Jonathan Norton, a banker and ‘Labour’ fundraiser, on June 24, 1995. She adopted Norton's children from his previous marriage, Henrietta and Freddie.
Illness & Death
Mowlam was diagnosed with a brain tumor a few weeks before the 1997 general elections. However, she later claimed that she had overcome the illness. Nevertheless, the treatment had taken its toll on her. She lost her hair and wore a wig, removing it in public at times, as she found it cumbersome.
The media criticized her appearance before she made the news of her illness public.
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On July 30, 2005, she suffered severe head injuries from a fall and failed to gain consciousness. It was probably caused due to balance issues caused by radiotherapy.
On August 3, 2005, the ‘BBC’ reported that she was seriously ill and had been admitted to the 'King's College Hospital' in London, England. She was moved to the 'Pilgrims Hospice' in Canterbury, Kent, on August 12, 2005. She passed away at 8:10 am on August 19, 2005.
In January 2010, her former doctor confessed that her brain tumor was malignant and had caused her death.
Honors & Tributes
She was honored with the ‘Freedom of the City of Coventry.’
Three memorial services were held in her honor in 2005: the first at the 'Theatre Royal' Drury Lane, West End, London, on November 20, 2005; the second at ‘Hillsborough Castle’ on December 1, 2005; and the third in Redcar on December 3, 2005.
On October 23, 2009, the 'Redcar and Cleveland Unitary Authority' installed an official memorial consisting of an 800-tile mosaic at the renovated boating lake in Redcar. Her portrait lies at the center of the mosaic, with images of the special moments of her life around it.
The ‘Trevelyan College' renamed their postgraduate common room 'The Mowlam Room,' in her memory.
Mowlam had confessed that she had inhaled cannabis during her college days.
During her stay in the U.S., she believed that the notorious serial killer Ted Bundy had tried to break into her house.