Michael Dobbs

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The Lord Dobbs
Official portrait, 2022
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
20 December 2010
Life Peerage
Personal details
Born (1948-11-14) 14 November 1948 (age 75)
Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, England
Political partyConservative
EducationChrist Church, Oxford (BA)
Tufts University (MA, MPA, PhD)

Michael John Dobbs, Baron Dobbs (born 14 November 1948) is a British Conservative politician and author, best known for his House of Cards trilogy.

Early life and education[edit]

Michael Dobbs was born on 14 November 1948 in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire,[1] the son of nurseryman Eric and Eileen Dobbs. He was educated at Hertford Grammar School, Cheshunt Grammar School, and Christ Church, Oxford.

After graduating from Oxford in 1971 with a third-class BA in philosophy, politics and economics, Dobbs moved to the United States. He attended the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, and graduated in 1977 with an MA, MALD, and a PhD in nuclear defence studies.[2] His doctoral dissertation was published as China and SALT: Dragon Hunting in a Multinuclear World.[3] In 2007, Dobbs gave the Alumni Salutation at Fletcher.


After getting his PhD in 1977, Dobbs returned to England and began working in London for the Conservative Party. From 1977 to 1979, he was an advisor to Margaret Thatcher, who was then leader of the Opposition. From 1979 to 1981, he was a Conservative speechwriter. From 1981 to 1986, he served as a government special advisor. From 1986 to 1987, he was the Conservative Party chief of staff.

In 1984, he survived the Brighton bombing at the Conservative Party Conference. He was called "Westminster's baby-faced hit man", by The Guardian in 1987.[4] From 1994 to 1995, he served in the John Major government as deputy chairman of the Conservative Party.

On 18 December 2010, Dobbs was made a life peer, as Baron Dobbs, of Wylye, in the County of Wiltshire,[5] and was introduced in the House of Lords on 20 December.[6] He sits as a Conservative Peer.[7] Lord Dobbs is also an executive board member of the Conservative Friends of the Chinese. In August 2014, Lord Dobbs was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue.[8]

Dobbs supported a Leave vote in the 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum.[9] In March 2019, he expressed himself critically about the administration of Theresa May, stating that "[w]e have a flat-pack Cabinet that threatens to collapse every time you switch the telly on."[10]

As of 13 October 2022, Dobbs was a member of the advisory board of the Parthenon Project,[11] an organisation that aims "to reunify the Parthenon Sculptures (also known as the Elgin Marbles) currently on permanent display in the British Museum with the other remaining originals in their home city of Athens"[12] in Greece.[13]

Business and journalism[edit]

From 1983 to 1986, Dobbs worked at Saatchi & Saatchi as deputy advertising chairman. From 1987 to 1988, he was director of worldwide corporate communications. From 1988 to 1991, he was deputy chairman, working directly under Maurice Saatchi.[1]

From 1991 to 1998, Dobbs was a columnist for The Mail on Sunday newspaper. From 1998 to 2001, he hosted the current affairs programme Despatch Box on BBC Two.


Michael Dobbs' writing career began in 1989 with the publication of House of Cards, the first in what would become a trilogy of political thrillers with Francis Urquhart as the central character; House of Cards was followed by To Play the King in 1992 and The Final Cut in 1994. In 1990 House of Cards was turned into a television mini-series which received 14 BAFTA nominations and two BAFTA wins and was voted the 84th Best British Show in History.[14] Netflix produced a US version based upon Dobbs's first novel and its BBC adaptation. He was an executive producer of the American series.[15]

His novel, Winston's War (2004), was shortlisted for the Channel 4 Political Book of the Year Award, and his Harry Jones novels, A Sentimental Traitor and A Ghost at the Door, for the Paddy Power Political Book of the Year awards in 2013 and 2014, respectively. His novels are also published in the United States.

Anthony Howard of The Times said "Dobbs is following in a respectable tradition. Shakespeare, Walter Scott, even Tolstoy, all used historical events as the framework for their writings. And, unlike some of their distinguished works, Dobbs's novel [Winston's War] is, in fact, astonishingly historically accurate".[citation needed]

Other work[edit]

Dobbs has been a judge of the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and lectures at dozens of literary and fundraising events each year.

Personal life[edit]

Dobbs, now a part-time writer,[when?] divides his time between London and Wiltshire. He has two sons from his first marriage and two stepsons with his second wife, Rachel.[16]


Dobbs has raised money for his neighbour, who is paralysed as a result of a rugby injury. He walked from his home town in Wylye to his old school Richard Hale. He completed this on 27 March 2015. He is the patron of eye care charity, the Graham Layton Trust.[17]


Dobbs is a distant relative of the US non-fiction author with the same name. The two are sometimes confused.[18]


Francis Urquhart Novels

Tom Goodfellowe Novels

Winston Churchill Novels

Harry Jones Thrillers

  • The Lords' Day (2007)
  • The Edge of Madness (2008)
  • The Reluctant Hero (2010)
  • Old Enemies (2011)
  • A Sentimental Traitor (2012)
  • A Ghost at the Door (2013)

Non-series novels

  • Wall Games (1990)
  • Last Man to Die (1991)
  • The Touch of Innocents (1994)
  • First Lady (2006)


  1. ^ a b "Is he fibbing? I can't possibly comment". The Independent. 31 January 1995. Archived from the original on 12 May 2022. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  2. ^ Plante, Robert Peston, Lynda La (7 May 2013). "You may have a first-class degree - but Lord Winston doesn't want you". The Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 12 June 2019.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ "China and SALT: Dragon Hunting in a Multinuclear World". Retrieved 12 August 2023.
  4. ^ Chakelian, Anoosh (7 July 2015). "House of Cards creator Michael Dobbs: "I must have sold my soul"". New Statesman.
  5. ^ "No. 59641". The London Gazette. 22 December 2010. p. 24506.
  6. ^ Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Lords, Westminster. "Lords Hansard text for 20 Dec 201020 Dec 2010 (pt 0001)". Publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 3 June 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ House of Lords. "Lord Dobbs". Parliament.uk. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  8. ^ "Celebrities' open letter to Scotland – full text and list of signatories". The Guardian. 7 August 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  9. ^ theopaphitistv (9 June 2016). "EU Referendum Debate" – via YouTube.[dead YouTube link]
  10. ^ Dobbs, Michael (15 March 2019). "Michael Dobbs: Brexit – We have a flat-pack Cabinet that threatens to collapse every time you switch the telly on". The Yorkshire Post. Archived from the original on 30 October 2020. Retrieved 30 October 2020.
  11. ^ "Parthenon Project". Parthenon Project. 2022. Retrieved 13 October 2022.
  12. ^ "Parthenon Project: Overview". Parthenon Project. 2022. Retrieved 13 October 2022.
  13. ^ "Elgin Marbles: New body aims to return sculptures to Greece". BBC News. London: BBC. 13 October 2022. Retrieved 13 October 2022.
  14. ^ "Previous Lunch - Baroness (Anne) Jenkin in conversation with Lord (Michael) Dobbs". Wellbeing of Women. Archived from the original on 3 October 2013. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
  15. ^ "House of Cards". Peabodyawards.com. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  16. ^ "My perfect weekend: Michael Dobbs, politician and author : The Conservative politician and author Michael Dobbs, 64, conducts a double life between the House of Lords and his home in Wiltshire". The Telegraph. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  17. ^ "Charity Walk". Walk4jack.com. 18 March 2015. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  18. ^ "Blogs & Columns, Blog Directory - The Washington Post". Blog.washingtonpost.com. Archived from the original on 14 June 2012. Retrieved 3 June 2015.

External links[edit]

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