Until the arrival on the political stage of Margaret Thatcher, Barbara Castle was the most vivid, the most successful and the most controversial woman in British politics. Everyone had an opinion about her, whether they thought she was a dangerous subversive or a national heroine. A Labour activist from her childhood, she became active in party politics in her early twenties, whilst at the same time breaking into political journalism. Thirty years later she was the unexpected success of Harold Wilson's first administration, rising from a junior position to the inner cabinet in less than five years. But her radicalism, her flamboyant style and ultimately, perhaps, her gender caught up with her and she was frozen out.