MARJORIE (MO) MOWLAM
The outspoken Mowlam, Britain's Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, grew up in a family of modest means in Coventry, England. She is known for her lively and direct style, her sometimes colorful language, and for a wide range of political interests that include education, trade, media and royal architecture.
Mowlam was educated at Coundon Court Comprehensive School in Coventry, Durham University and the University of Iowa, where she obtained a Ph. D.
After graduation from graduate school, she worked in New York City and then as a research assistant for Tony Benn, a member of parliament. Later, she became a lecturer and administrator in adult education at Northern College in Barnsley.
A member of the Labour Party since 1969, she was first elected in 1987 to parliament and later became a member of the influential House of Commons Public Accounts Committee and the party's ruling National Executive committee.
A few weeks before the general elections last May, the British tabloids showed unflattering pictures of a puffy Mowlam and accused her of bingeing on sweets. She responded that she was taking steroids for a brain tumor, and was quickly hailed as "Brave Mo."
Mowlam lost most of her hair during the cancer treatments and wears a wig, which she finds uncomfortable. She often removes it during meetings and drops it on the table, saying, "It's such a bother."