Olive Gibbs was born Olive Frances Cox to an ancient but impoverished Oxford family. She grew up to have a distinguished career as a politician. She first entered politics in 1953 by getting elected to the Oxford City Council after successfully campaigning to defend nursery schools threatened with closure by the Tory-dominated group the previous year. She served as Lord Mayor of Oxford twice, in 1974-75 and 1981-82, the first woman to do so, and was also the first woman to chair the Oxfordshire County Council. She married Edmund Gibbs, an accountant who was also a city councillor for some time. Olive Gibbs was a lifelong pacifist who chaired the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) from 1964 to 1967. Although she was a prominent and popular figure in the Labour Party, she was always independent of the party line. She published her autobiography in 1989.