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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 July, 2003, 16:07 GMT 17:07 UK
Profile: Louise Brown
The Browns (picture courtesy of Dr Peter Brinsden, Bourn Hall Clinic)
Louise Brown in 2003, with mum Lesley and dad John
A quarter-century on, and the clamour surrounding "test tube baby" Louise Brown has barely died down.

It is hard to imagine how it must feel for your whole public image to have been shaped by the manner of your conception.

The pioneering achievements of Steptoe and Edwards have pursued Louise relentlessly, the press interest hardly slackening for a moment.

It is a compliment to say that she has led the most unremarkable of lives in the face of this pressure.

On the 25th anniversary, Louise is doing her bit for the fertility "community", guest starring at a grand party at Bourn Hall clinic for hundreds of babies who followed in her footsteps.

She remains proud to have been the first of well over a million worldwide.

However, the number of interviewers she is prepared to put up with is dropping.

Postal worker

These days Louise is working as a postal worker in the Bristol area, an occupation lending itself to puns about "deliveries" - just as her previous job as a nursery nurse proved useful to writers and reporters.

She had, at last reports, a fiance and a place of her own.

Previous interviews have revealed a liking for swimming, the pub and even darts, and indeed, coupled with a general zest for life.

Video show

Every child is told he or she is special, and Louise was four before her parents told her exactly why that was true in her case.

Louise just after her birth, with Patrick Steptoe (right) and Robert Edwards
She was shown the famous video taken in the operating theatre at Oldham General Hospital in 1978 as she took her first breaths.

Her fame led to a barrage of questions from schoolmates, each of whom needed to be told that she was not actually born in the laboratory.

At times, she recalled when interviewed, she felt "completely alone".

"I thought it was something peculiar to me. I thought I was abnormal."

A few years later, the same technology produced her sister Natalie, and the family was complete.

To her, there were a few extra "uncles" who remained precious both to her and her parents.

Kept in touch

Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards kept a close interest in her progress, and the Browns still visit Professor Edwards at his home near Cambridge.

Louise Brown
Louise Brown just after birth
When Patrick Steptoe died 15 years ago it was a blow to the 10-year-old Louise.

She took the phone call bringing the bad news, and recalled in an interview: "When dad told me Mr Steptoe had passed away, I broke down.

"It was like losing a dear member of the family."

Louise Brown, however, has ended up as the perfect advert for IVF in the face of critics and sceptics - a picture of health and level-headed normality.


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