The Returning Officer: Iron ladies


In Walter Harris’s 1972 potboiler, The Mistress of Downing Street, Britain’s first woman prime minister, Viola Wills, ascends to the office in the 1990s when the current PM, her husband Edward, is pushed off a roof by a robot operated by the sinister Janus Thudd. Her affairs with the first black Fabergé and the Russian prime minister, Anatoli Granovsky, fail to resolve the world crisis. The Archbishop of Canterbury is a woman who smokes cheroots.

Wills allies with Rex Deveau and the New Luddites and destroys Thudd’s Carribean HQ using the world’s last nuclear bomb, borrowed from the Dalai Lama-like Tzigume Pala and dropped from Concorde.

This article first appeared in the 29 April 2013 issue of the New Statesman, What makes us human?