Born into a clergy family from Leamington Spa as the youngest of three children, Arrowsmith was educated at Cheltenham Ladies College, read history at the Newnham College, Cambridge, and then read Social Science at the University of Liverpool and at Ohio University as a US–UK Fulbright Scholar.
Arrowsmith was a co-founder of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. From 1958 onwards, she served eleven prison sentences for her political activities. In 1961 she was the subject of parliamentary questions after she was force-fed while on hunger strike in Gateside prison. She also worked for the human-rights organization Amnesty International for 24 years up to 1994.
Running for Parliament
She stood as a candidate for the Trotskyist Socialist Unity party against the then Prime Minister, James Callaghan, in his constituency of Cardiff South-East in the parliamentary general election of 1979. During Callaghan's customary acceptance speech on his re-election as the MP, Arrowsmith carried on sustained heckling. Callaghan, in an avuncular response to the heckling, remarked that it was the first time he had "conducted a duet in returning a vote of thanks, and that it was not a particularly tuneful duet." He then suggested that Arrowsmith might be invited to take the platform, which she did, while he, his supporters and all the other candidates left the hall. However, her short speech was broadcast on the BBC. It demanded a withdrawal of British troops from Ireland and self-determination for its people.
These include a memoir with passages from her early diary, fiction and poetry, entitled I Should Have Been a Hornby Train (1995), juvenile novels such as Camp Christopher (1949), Jericho (1965), Somewhere Like This (1970), Many Are Called (1998) and The Prisoner (1982), political non-fiction books such as To Asia in Peace (1972), Nine Lives (1990) and The Colour of Six Schools (1972), and works of illustrated poetry such as Breakout (1975), On the Brink (1981), Thin Ices: peace poems (1984) and Drawing to Extinction (2000).
- "Book Review of 'Somewhere Like This' by TrashFiction.com". Trashfiction.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-07-14.
- Goff, Hannah (2004-04-07). "UK | Peace campaigners return to Aldermaston". BBC News. Retrieved 2010-07-14.
- Julia Bindel: "No time for battle fatigue", The Guardian, 30 April 2008 Retrieved 6 November 2016.
- Orlando Project Retrieved 6 November 2016.
- Emily Hamer (6 October 2016). Britannia's Glory: A History of Twentieth Century Lesbians. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 146. ISBN 978-1-4742-9280-1.
- "Hansard 24 October 1961". Hansard.millbanksystems.com. 1961-10-24. Retrieved 2010-07-14.
- Coverage of election result on BBC Decision 79
- British Library Retrieved 6 November 2016.