The Thatcher Factor: The 1980s in Literature

Module code: EN3144

Module co-ordinator: Dr Emma Parker

In this module we will examine literary representations of the 1980s, a decade defined by Thatcherism. We will explore how writers have responded to the cultural changes that occurred during this period and their assessments of the impact and legacy of Margaret Thatcher's policies. The texts we will study portray major events and features of the period (consumerism, private enterprise, the Falklands War, the Miners' Strike, Section 28, the AIDS crisis) and raise important questions related to gender, class, race, sexuality and national identity.

We will consider competing views of the decade. Was Thatcher the Iron Lady who made Britain great again or the woman who eroded the welfare state ('Margaret Thatcher, Milk Snatcher')? Was she a pseudo-man or the original representative of Girl Power? Did the Tory Party save or destroy Britain?

Topics covered

  • Caryl Churchill: Top Girls (1982)
  • Martin Amis: Money (1984)
  • Hanif Kureishi: My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
  • Rose Tremain: Restoration (1989)
  • Jonathan Coe: What a Carve Up! (1994)
  • Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty (2004)




  • Essay, 5,000 words (100%)