Forty years ago today, to the surprise of almost everyone, Margaret Thatcher was elected leader of the Conservative Party. She was the first—and to date the only—woman to be elected leader of a major political party in the United Kingdom. Four years later she became the first—and again the only—female prime minister of Britain.
Thatcher served as PM for nearly a decade, during which time she became, along with Ronald Reagan, one of the West’s greatest champions of free enterprise, anti-communism, and individual liberty.
Here are nine things you should know about the former British Prime Minister.