Elected in 1992, she held high-profile Cabinet jobs under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
But it was as Culture Secretary under Blair where she made her biggest mark.
She is credited with first proposing to sceptical colleagues London should host the Olympics in 2012.
The UK won the bid and the Conservatives kept her on the London 2012 Organising Committee after Labour lost the election.
She was very much a people person who concentrated on social reform and health matters as a politician.
Tony Blair put her in charge of helping the bereaved after 9/11 and other disasters.
Her career was not without controversy.
As a public health minister she was accused of misleading MPs when Formula One was exempt from the tobacco advertising ban.
It emerged the racing boss Bernie Ecclestone had donated large sums to the Labour party.
Her husband David Mills was investigated in Italy for alleged money laundering and tax fraud in 2006.
As an international corporate lawyer, he had acted for then-Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Tessa Jowell was investigated over links between a loan she signed and a large payment to her husband.
Amidst a media furore, the couple separated, though she remained devoted to their two children Matt and Jessie.
Jowell also had three stepchildren and was a devoted grandmother.
She was eventually cleared of misconduct after the investigation, and kept her job.
The Italian prosecution of David Mills was dissolved and the couple later reconciled.
She stood down from the Commons in 2015 after 23 years as MP for Dulwich.
She was runner-up to Sadiq Khan in the election to be Labour’s Candidate for Mayor of London in the 2016 contest.
Having previously been honoured with a damehood, she was appointed to the Lords and became Baroness Jowell of Brixton.
In the summer of 2017 she was diagnosed with brain cancer, and it was in the Lords where she recently made one of parliament’s most emotional speeches.
Jowell called for reforms to treatment for NHS patients.
Her words moved many to tears. After a meeting in Downing Street the government pledged extra funding.
Tessa Jowell fought for her causes she believed in to the end.