Sarah Jane Brown

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Sarah Brown
Sarah Brown 2008.jpg
Sarah Brown in 2008
Spouse of the Prime Minister
of the United Kingdom
In office
27 June 2007 – 11 May 2010
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Cherie Blair
Succeeded by Samantha Cameron
Personal details
Born Sarah Jane Macaulay
(1963-10-31) 31 October 1963 (age 50)
Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England
Nationality British
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Gordon Brown
(m. 2000–present)
Children Jennifer Jane (Deceased)
John Macaulay
James Fraser
Residence North Queensferry (private)
Alma mater University of Bristol

Sarah Jane Brown (née Macaulay; born 31 October 1963) is the wife of former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the founder and president of Theirworld, a children's charity, and a founding partner of Hobsbawm Macaulay Communications, a public relations company. Brown is also the Executive Chair of the Global Business Coalition for Education and the co-founder of A World At School.[1]

Early life[edit]

Sarah Jane Macaulay was born in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire[2][3] on 31 October 1963.[4] Her mother Pauline was a teacher and her father Iain[4] worked for publisher Longman. Macaulay spent her early childhood in Fife,[5] before moving to Tanzania. When she was 8 her parents separated. Both then remarried and her mother and stepfather took her and her two younger brothers, Sean and Bruce,[6] to live in North London.[7]

She was educated in North London at Acland Burghley School and Camden School for Girls,[8] and took a psychology degree at the University of Bristol.[9]


After leaving university, Sarah Macaulay worked at the brand consultancy Wolff Olins. At age 30 she founded the public-relations firm Hobsbawm Macaulay, in partnership with an old school friend, Julia Hobsbawm. Their clients have included New Statesman (owned by Geoffrey Robinson[9]) and the British Council.

Marriage and children[edit]

She first met Gordon Brown briefly at a political event. In 1994, they shared a flight from London to Scotland for the Scottish Labour Party conference and after this meeting the two began seeing each other regularly.[10]

The relationship was kept secret until 1997, when the News of the World published a picture of them together in a restaurant in London.[11] They were married on 3 August 2000 in Brown's home town, North Queensferry, Fife.[12]

In 2001, she left Hobsbawm Macaulay after finding out she was pregnant with her first child.[13] On 28 December 2001 she gave birth prematurely to daughter Jennifer Jane, who died at 10 days old.[14][15] In 2002 she founded the charity Piggy Bank Kids, which began as a research fund to tackle complications in pregnancy, and has now expanded into a range of projects helping disadvantaged children. Gordon Brown has spoken of Sarah's bravery after their daughter's death.[16]

On 17 October 2003, she gave birth to their second child and first son, John.[17] Another son, James Fraser, arrived on 17 July 2006 [18] and was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis that November.[19]

Brown listening to her husband's speech at the Diversity Reception, Labour conference, 2009

Public perception[edit]

As wife of the Prime Minister, Brown was generally viewed favourably.[20][21][22] The Guardian noted her public image, saying, "her positive profile could be the best thing Labour has got going for it with the election looming."[23] The 2010 general election saw no party command an overall majority, but the Conservative Party led by David Cameron had the most seats, and ultimately formed a government in coalition with the Liberal Democrats on 11 May 2010 after Gordon Brown's attempts to keep Labour in power failed.


Sarah with other leader spouses at the 34th G8 summit

Brown published a memoir of her role as the Prime Minister's Spouse, entitled Behind the Black Door through Ebury Press in 2011.[24]

The book received an unfavourable reception from most reviewers. Written in a diary style, the London Evening Standard describes it as "perhaps the dimmest diary ever to have been professionally published" and "one long, formulaic press release in praise of Gordon Brown."[25] The Telegraph concludes it is a "strange book" and "plea for redemption" though the reviewer decides that Brown's description of the international charity circuit is "fun at last".[26] The Irish Independent describes the book as a "disturbingly giddy, schoolgirlish, exclamation mark-littered diary form" and "nothing in the slightest bit revelatory about it", though with "enough gossipy details to satisfy star-hungry readers."[27]

In Brown's defence, the New Statesman review decides that the "thoughtfulness and courtesy" is "genuine Sarah Brown", though "so airbrushed as to leave the diary feeling a little empty."[28]

Charitable work[edit]

Brown founded her own charity, PiggyBank-Kids, in 2002, which raises money for the Jennifer Brown Research Trust and supports a range of projects to help disadvantaged children.[9][29] The charity was renamed and is now called Theirworld.[30] Brown is the patron of domestic violence charity Women's Aid (from 2004, ongoing in 2013) and of Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres (since 2007, ongoing in 2013).[31][32]

Brown is also a close friend of writer J.K. Rowling (who donated £1 million to the Labour Party in 2008),[33] and the two co-authored a children's book for the One Parent Families charity organisation.[34] She is a former patron of Gingerbread.[29]

She is a member of the High Level Panel for Global Education.[35]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Allison, Rebecca (3 August 2000). "How Macaulay triumphed when so many others failed". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 March 2013. 
  3. ^ Andy Beckett (25 September 2009). "Can Sarah Brown rescue Labour?". London: Guardian. Retrieved 27 June 2010. 
  4. ^ a b Home. "Hello! profile". Retrieved 27 June 2010. 
  5. ^ "Independent profile". London: 3 June 2007. Retrieved 27 June 2010. 
  6. ^ By GEORGE PASCOE-WATSON Political Editor (18 December 2008). "PM's wife: My pain as parents split". London: Retrieved 27 June 2010. 
  7. ^ "Sarah Brown reveals trauma of her parents' split as she launches campaign to help broken Britain". London: 18 December 2008. Retrieved 27 June 2010. 
  8. ^ Town vs gown: north London – Telegraph
  9. ^ a b c Gaby Hinsliff "Lady in waiting", The Observer, 2 October 2005, Retrieved on 30 March 2008
  10. ^ Gaby Hinsliff (3 December 2006). "Inside the world of Mrs Brown". The Observer (London: The Guardian). 
  11. ^ "Snapper grabs photo of Chancellor with woman!". The Independent ( 29 June 1997. [dead link]
  12. ^ "Gordon and Sarah wed at home". BBC News. 3 August 2000. 
  13. ^ "Chancellor's wife to quit full-time work". BBC News. 18 October 2001. 
  14. ^ "Chancellor becomes a father". BBC News. 28 December 2001. 
  15. ^ "Browns' baby dies in hospital". BBC News. 7 January 2002. 
  16. ^ Nicholas Watt (12 February 2010). "Gordon Brown opens his heart on his baby's death, Sarah's bravery, and Blair | Politics". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 28 April 2010. 
  17. ^ "Browns celebrate baby boy". BBC News. 17 October 2003. 
  18. ^ "Brown names new baby James Fraser". BBC News. 18 July 2006. 
  19. ^ "Brown's son has cystic fibrosis". BBC News. 26 November 2006. 
  20. ^ Emma Griffiths (21 September 2008). "PM's wife is a hit on the fringe". BBC News. Retrieved 23 September 2008. 
  21. ^ Liz Hunt (30 July 2008). "What Sarah Brown could learn from Cherie Blair". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 23 September 2008. 
  22. ^ "Sarah Brown: The new 'first lady'". BBC News. 28 June 2007. Retrieved 23 September 2008. 
  23. ^ "The Reinvention of Sarah Brown". London: The Guardian. 24 September 2009. Retrieved 29 September 2009. 
  24. ^ Sarah Brown (2011). Behind the Black Door. Ebury Press. ISBN 9780091940577. 
  25. ^ David Sexton (10 March 2011), "Behind the Black Door is inobservant, imperceptive and dull", London Evening Standard. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  26. ^ Tanya Gold (5 March 2011), "Behind the Black Door by Sarah Brown: review", The Telegraph. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  27. ^ "Review: Behind The Black Door by Sarah Brown", Irish Independent, 5 March 2011. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  28. ^ Alice Miles (17 March 2011), "Behind the Black Door", New Statesman. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  29. ^ a b Lisa Aziz (17 April 2010). "Does my hair smell of paint? An intimate portrait of Sarah Brown and what really happens behind Downing Street's closed doors". Daily Mail. Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  30. ^
  31. ^ "Sarah Brown", accessed 28 March 2013
  32. ^ Sarah Brown (11 November 2006). "Why I want you to get behind Maggie's". The Scotsman. 
  33. ^ Ben Leach (20 September 2008). "Harry Potter author JK Rowling gives £1 million to Labour". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 September 2008. 
  34. ^ "Gordon's women". London: The Guardian. 13 May 2007. Retrieved 23 September 2008. 
  35. ^ Official Website, accessed 28 March 2013

External links[edit]

Honorary titles
Preceded by
Cherie Blair
Spouse of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Succeeded by
Samantha Cameron