Ann is a former British Conservative Party politician and has been a novelist since 2000. She attended the Royal Navy School in Singapore, and a convent school in Bath. She then read Latin at Birmingham University and later attended Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, to read Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE).
From 1976 to 1978, Widdecombe was a councillor for Runnymede District in Surrey. She contested the seat of Burnley in Lancashire in the 1979 general election and then, against David Owen, the Plymouth Devonport seat in the 1983 general election.
She was first elected to the House of Commons in the 1987 general election as member for the constituency of Maidstone (which became Maidstone and The Weald in 1997).
Widdecombe joined John Major’s government as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Social Security in 1990. In 1993, she was moved to the Department of Employment, and she was promoted to Minister of State the following year. In 1995, she joined the Home Office as Minister of State for Prisons and visited every prison in Britain.
She was a social conservative and a member of the Conservative Christian Fellowship. She retired from politics at the 2010 general election. Since 2002 she has also made numerous television and radio appearances, including as a television presenter.
In 2005, she presented the show Ann Widdecombe to the Rescue in which she acted as an agony aunt, dispensing no-nonsense advice to disputing families, couples, and others across the UK.
Since 2007, Widdecombe has fronted a television series called Ann Widdecombe Versus, on ITV1, in which she speaks to various people about things related to her as an MP, with an emphasis on confronting those responsible for problems she wished to tackle.
Widdecombe was appointed an Honorary Fellow of Canterbury Christ Church University at a ceremony held at Canterbury Cathedral on 30 January 2009.
In January 2011 Widdecombe was joint President of the North of England Education Conference in Blackpool. She shared the responsibility with a young person from the town. She has also become a patron of The Grace Charity for M.E.
She is a committed animal lover and one of the few Conservative MPs to have consistently voted for the ban on fox hunting.
Ann Widdecombe is currently filming a new quiz show with herself as questionmaster, for the Sky Atlantic channel, called Cleverdicks. The show is being shown in 30 one-hour episodes in an initial series, starting 2012. It features four contestants, usually high quality members of the UK national quiz circuit and ends with a money round for the winner of each show.
Her face is still a familiar addition to the television scene and her powerful motivational speeches are in demand at company seminars nationwide.