The Origin of House of Cards

18522215_richardson_377985b Among the reminiscences about the late Margaret Thatcher, I found most fascinating an account by politican/novelist Lord Dobbs. He reveals the origin of his novel about the venomous politician Francis Urquhart, which begat House of Cards, the splendid BBC mini-series (recently remade with Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright).

Dobbs was Margaret Thatcher’s long serving, loyal right-hand man for many years. But during the 1987 election, she turned on him in a meeting:

The term handbagging didn’t do justice to that outburst. I had never seen her so unreasoning or wretchedly unfair. It left deep wounds.

That moment changed our relationship, and changed my life. A few weeks later I was sitting beside a swimming pool, on holiday for the first time in more than two years, bruised, hurt. I’d just rejected an offer to write the inside story of ”the swinging handbag”. I don’t do kiss and tell, yet it got me thinking. Perhaps I could write a novel instead?

I sat for three hours with a bottle of wine and a writing pad, the dark corners of politics turning in my mind, the wounds still weeping. By the time I’d finished the bottle I had only two letters scrawled large upon the page. F.U.