Barbara Castle, later Baroness Castle of Blackburn, was born in Chesterfield, England, to a politically active family. When she was 12, the family moved to Bradford in West Yorkshire, where her father Frank Betts became editor of the Bradford Pioneer, a socialist newspaper, and her mother Annie ran a soup kitchen for the town's miners. Barbara joined the Labour Party as a teenager and organized mock elections at her secondary school, in which she stood as the Labour candidate. She went on to read philosophy, politics, and economic at Oxford University. In Oxford she began her serious political activity, serving as treasurer of the Oxford University Labour Club. She was elected to St. Pancras Borough Council in 1937, and spoke at the annual Labour Party Conference in 1943 for the first time. In 1944, she married Ted Castle, a journalist, and became the housing correspondent at the Daily Mirror. In the 1945 general election, she was elected Member of Parliament for Blackburn, beginning a long career that made her one of the most significant Labour Party politicians of the 20th century and the longest-serving female MP in the history of the House of Commons, until that record was broken after her death. In the government of Prime Minister Harold Wilson she held a number of Cabinet positions, including as Secretary of State for Employment, Secretary of State for Health and Social Services, and First Secretary of State. After she left Parliament, she became the Member of the European Parliament for Greater Manchester from 1979 to 1989. In 1990, she was made a life peer in her own right (her husband had previously received a peerage). The Castle Diaries, 1964 to 1976, were published in 1980-1984, and her autobiography, Fighting All The Way, appeared in 1993.