For fifty years Shirley Williams has been one of Britain's best-known and best-loved politicians, admired for her warmth, sincerity, integrity and compassion. Hailing from an impeccable intellectual background, the young Shirley seemed destined for great things as she rose effortlessly up the political ladder. Yet for all the talk of her becoming the country's first female Prime Minister that accolade passed her by, her feisty independence earning her a career that has been anything but perpetual sunshine. In this first-ever biography, Mark Peel explores the dilemma that has faced Williams throughout the highs and lows of her political life: how to tread the line between firmly held principles and party solidarity. Drawing on his unfettered access to the family archive and conversations with Williams's colleagues, Peel skilfully teases out the contradictions at the heart of this remarkable character. Shirley Williams: The Biography reveals the surprisingly vulnerable figure behind the reassuring public facade. It uncovers the expectations placed on Williams by her highly ambitious parents, her guilt about her privileged background, and her often tumultuous personal relationships. The result is a touching, intimate portrait of one of the most complex and popular politicians of our time, a woman who through good times and bad has retained her essential humanity.