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Diss-born Mary Wilson, widow of former prime minister Harold Wilson, dies

Mrs Mary Wilson, wife of Mr Harold Wilson, the former Prime Minister in the Labour Government.

Date: Jan 1971

Source: Library

Mrs Mary Wilson, wife of Mr Harold Wilson, the former Prime Minister in the Labour Government. Date: Jan 1971 Source: Library

Jeremy Corbyn has led tributes to Diss-born poet Mary Wilson, widow of former Labour prime minister Harold Wilson, after her death aged 102.

Former Prime Minister Sir Harold Wilson, in his robes as a Knight of the Garter, and Lady Mary Wilson, waiting for their car on the steps of the Queen's Free Chapel of St George at Windsor Castle after attending the Most Nobel Order of the Garter ceremony.

Date: 18 Jun 1979

Source: LibraryFormer Prime Minister Sir Harold Wilson, in his robes as a Knight of the Garter, and Lady Mary Wilson, waiting for their car on the steps of the Queen's Free Chapel of St George at Windsor Castle after attending the Most Nobel Order of the Garter ceremony. Date: 18 Jun 1979 Source: Library

The Labour leader said Lady Wilson was a “wonderful poet” who had provided huge support to her husband in his general electoral victories in the 1960s and 70s.

A friend of Sir John Betjeman - who dedicated his famous poem about the town to her - she was a published poet whose works sold in the tens of thousands.

According to the The Times, Lady Wilson died at St Thomas’ Hospital in London on Wednesday.

Mr Corbyn wrote on Twitter: “Sad to hear of the death of Mary Wilson. A wonderful poet and a huge support in Harold’s General Election victories. I send my condolences to her family and friends.”

Former Labour minister David Hanson also paid tribute to her and praised her support of the party.

Lady Wilson outlived her husband of 55 years, who was MP for Huyton in Merseyside, by more than two decades.

The pair had homes in London and the Isles of Scilly.

During their time in Downing Street, the prime minister’s wife inspired the Private Eye parody feature Mrs Wilson’s Diary.

She hosted Mr Betjeman at No 10 and the poet wrote a piece about a journey they took together to Diss.

Lady Wilson was born Gladys Mary Baldwin in the Norfolk town in January 1916.

The daughter of a reverend, she wrote poetry from the age of six and became a shorthand typist in Cheshire after leaving school.

Mrs Wilson’s father was Reverend Daniel Baldwin, who was a Congregationalist minister.

She was a poet and had a book of her work was published in 1970 called Mary Wilson - Selected Poems.

She met her future husband at a Cheshire tennis club in 1934 and the pair married on New Year’s Day in 1940.

They had two sons, Robin and Giles, the former now an emeritus professor in mathematics at the Open University, which was founded under his father’s government in the 1960s.

As prime minister Harold Wilson enacted social reforms in education, health, housing, gender equality, price controls, pensions, provisions for disabled people and child poverty.

On 16 March 1976, five days after his 60th birthday, he stunned the nation when he announced his intention to resign, a decision that he claimed he had made two years previously.

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