Spider Woman

Spider Woman

A Life – by the former President of the Supreme Court

Summary

'Brenda Hale's story is extraordinary. She has been a pioneer... Spider woman and agent of change' Harriet Harman

Lady Hale is an inspirational figure admired for her historic achievements and for the causes she has championed. Spider Woman is her story.

As President of the Supreme Court, Lady Hale won global attention in finding the 2019 prorogation of Parliament to be unlawful. Yet that dramatic moment was merely the pinnacle of a career throughout which she was hailed as a pioneering reformer.

As 'a little girl from a little school in a little village in North Yorkshire', she only went into the law because her headteacher told her she wasn't clever enough to study history. She became the most senior judge in the country.

How does a self-professed 'girly swot' get ahead in a profession dominated by men? A lifelong smasher of glass-ceilings, who took as her motto 'women are equal to everything', her landmark rulings in areas including domestic violence, divorce, mental health and equality were her attempt to correct that.

Wise, warm and inspiring, Spider Woman shows how the law shapes our world. It is the story of how Lady Hale found that she could overcome the odds and change British law for good.

'Essential, entertaining and inspirational reading for all lovers of freedom, equality and justice' Shami Chakrabati

** A NEW STATESMAN BOOK OF THE YEAR**

Reviews

  • Brenda Hale is a superhero who embodies Parker's law that great power brings equivalent responsibility. Her wise, accessible memoir is essential, entertaining and inspirational reading for all lovers of freedom, equality and justice
    Shami Chakrabarti

About the author

Lady Hale

Brenda Hale, Rt Hon the Baroness Hale of Richmond DBE, was born in Yorkshire and studied Law at Girton College, Cambridge. She was called to the Bar in 1969 and spent almost twenty years in academia whilst also practising as a barrister for a short time.

In 1984, Lady Hale became the first woman and the youngest person to be appointed to the Law Commission, where she oversaw critical reforms in family law and mental disability law. She also began sitting as a part time judge, was appointed a QC in 1989, and became a full time judge in the Family Division of the High Court of England and Wales in 1994.

She was the first and only woman to become a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary, joining the appellate committee of the House of Lords in 2004, when it was still the top court for the whole United Kingdom. She was the first woman to serve on the newly created Supreme Court, was appointed Deputy President in 2013, and its President from 2017 to 2020.

She lives in Richmond, North Yorkshire.
Learn More

Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter

For the latest books, recommendations, author interviews and more