To her supporters, Mrs May is a model of resilience, but to her critics she is an inflexible leader oblivious to the changing circumstances around her.
She has suffered the ignominy of losing her parliamentary majority following a disastrous election campaign, seeing her flagship Brexit deal comprehensively rejected by MPs and enduring two no-confidence votes, one by her party, the other by parliament.
Each time she has fought on, partly protected by the inability of any serious challengers to form alliances and depose her, with the toxic Brexit issue dissolving traditional political bonds.
But Leave backers have always been suspicious of having a Remain supporter – which Mrs May was before the referendum – leading negotiations.
And MPs who opposed Brexit want her to stick tighter to the EU or call for a second referendum.
One glimmer of hope for the leader is that the Brexiteers who voted down her deal have recently struck a softer tone towards the agreement, fearful that opponents of Brexit in the House of Commons could scupper the whole process.
Shortly before Christmas, Mrs May made a rare acknowledgement of weakness, telling Conservative colleagues she did not intend to lead them into the next scheduled election in 2022 as she uncomfortably defeated the internal coup.
She then saw off a House of Commons no-confidence vote triggered by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn after her deal was rejected by MPs.
Critics from all sides have rounded on the leader, with Remain-supporting journalist Matthew Parris calling her a “zombie prime minister”, and the Leave-supporting Daily Telegraph newspaper warning that she was “out of allies, out of time”.
She had quietly campaigned to stay in the EU, but has repeatedly stressed the importance of implementing the verdict.
Yet her plan’s provision for a so-called “backstop” to prevent a hard border with the Republic of Ireland, which could keep Britain indefinitely tied in a customs union with the EU, has angered Brexit supporters.
But her reserved nature often makes for stilted relations with world leaders and voters, while her staccato speaking style, repeating phrases and avoiding direct questions, earned her the media nickname “Maybot”.
FIELD OF WHEAT
Mrs May, 62, said she knew she wanted to become a politician when she was just 12, and provoked mockery when she said during the election campaign that the naughtiest thing she had done was running through a field of wheat.
She studied geography at the University of Oxford, where she met her husband Philip, who became a banker, after reportedly being introduced by future Pakistan premier Benazir Bhutto.