Mary Wilson, Baroness Wilson of Rievaulx

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The Right Honourable
The Lady Wilson of Rievaulx
Spouse of the Prime Minister
of the United Kingdom
In office
4 March 1974 – 5 April 1976
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Harold Wilson
Preceded by Vacanta
Succeeded by Audrey Callaghan
In office
16 October 1964 – 19 June 1970
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Harold Wilson
Preceded by Elizabeth Douglas-Home
Succeeded by Vacanta
Personal details
Born (1916-01-12) 12 January 1916 (age 100)
Diss, Norfolk, England
Nationality British
Spouse(s) Harold Wilson
(m. 1940–1995, his death)
Children Robin, Giles
Parents Rev Daniel Baldwin, Sarah Bentley
a. ^ The Prime Minister from 19 June 1970 to
4 March 1974 was Edward Heath.

Gladys Mary Wilson, Lady Wilson of Rievaulx (born 12 January 1916),[1] née Baldwin, is an English poet, best known as the widow of former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson. She is the only spouse of a British PM to become a centenarian.


She was born in Diss, Norfolk, the daughter of Reverend Daniel Baldwin, who was a Congregationalist minister. She attended boarding school at Milton Mount College near Crawley, leaving in 1932 to attend a secretarial course in Cumbria for two years. She was employed as a shorthand typist at Lever Brothers in Port Sunlight before marrying Harold Wilson on New Year's Day, 1940. She and Wilson had two sons, Robin (born 5 December 1943) and Giles (born 1948).[2]

In 1970 her volume of poetry, Selected Poems, was published. It was generally assumed that she owed her subsequent success as a poet to her position as the Prime Minister's wife. Nevertheless, her name was at one time mentioned as a possibility for the next Poet Laureate. In 1976 Wilson was one of three judges of the Man Booker Prize, the other judges being Walter Allen and Francis King.[3] According to the DNB entry for Harold Wilson, written by Roy Jenkins,[4] Mary Wilson was not too happy with life as a "political" wife. It was this detachment which gave the Private Eye spoof Mrs Wilson's Diary, the supposed diary of Mary Wilson, written in the style of the BBC's daily radio serial Mrs Dale's Diary, a spurious look of authenticity.

Mary was widowed on 24 May 1995 when Harold died of colorectal cancer and Alzheimer's disease after 10 years of illness. They had been married for 55 years. As of 2007 she lived in Westminster, a short distance away from Downing Street.[5] She also retains the couple's holiday home in the Isles of Scilly.[6] Reaching her 100th birthday on 12 January 2016, she is the oldest living spouse of a former British Prime Minister, the last to have been wife of a serving Prime Minister during more than one separate period, the longest lived Prime Minister's spouse on record, and the only centenarian.[7]

Titles from birth[edit]

  • Miss Mary Baldwin (1916–1940)
  • Mrs Harold Wilson (1940–1976)
  • Lady Wilson (1976–1983)
  • The Right Honourable The Lady Wilson of Rievaulx (1983–)


Selected Poems (1970) ISBN 0-09-105010-3
New Poems (1979) ISBN 0-09-139460-0


  1. ^ Mary Wilson: Wife of former Prime Minister Harold turning 100 years-old
  2. ^ Dermot Englefield, Janet Seaton, Isobel White, "Facts About the British Prime Ministers", Cassell, 1995, p. 314.
  3. ^ "Tears, tiffs and triumphs". The Guardian. UK. 6 September 2008. Retrieved 7 September 2011. 
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ The truth about Harold Wilson
  6. ^ Objective One Media Release 7 October 2005
  7. ^ Hirst, Andrew (2016-01-12). "Harold Wilson's loyal wife Mary reaches her 100th birthday". Huddersfield Daily Examiner. Trinity Mirror. Retrieved 2016-01-16. 

External links[edit]

  • Mary Wilson Selected Poems
  • Roy Hattersley, The truth about Harold Wilson – after 30 years of scandalous rumours, Daily Mail, 24 June 2007 [2]
  • In praise of … Mary Wilson. Mrs Wilson was and remains a lady of firm convictions, and at 94 is as alert as ever, Guardian 17 March 2010 [3]
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Elizabeth Douglas-Home
Spouse of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Title next held by
(Edward Heath was a bachelor)
Title last held by
(Edward Heath was a bachelor)
Spouse of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Succeeded by
Audrey Callaghan