Webb, Beatrice Potter

Webb, Beatrice Potter,

1858–1943, English socialist economist; daughter of a wealthy industrialist. She took an early interest in social problems and worked with Charles BoothBooth, Charles,
1840–1916, English social investigator, pioneer in developing the social survey method. Aided by the notable social scientist Beatrice Potter Webb, he made an exhaustive statistical study of poverty in London, showing its extent, causes, and location.
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 on his survey of working life in London. Her Cooperative Movement in Great Britain was published in 1891. In 1892 she married Sidney James Webb, 1859–1947, a civil servant and a contributor to Fabian Essays (1890). Thereafter they worked together, complementing each other's qualities in an unusual partnership. They were of first importance in the Fabian SocietyFabian Society,
British socialist society. An outgrowth of the Fellowship of the New Life (founded 1883 under the influence of Thomas Davidson), the society was developed the following year by Frank Podmore and Edward Pease.
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, in the building up of the British Labour party, and in the creation (1895) of the London School of Economics. In 1913 they founded the New Statesman. Most of the political and social reforms of their period owe much to their indefatigable research and political acumen. Together they produced The History of Trade Unionism (1894; rev. ed. 1920), Industrial Democracy (1897), English Local Government (9 vol., 1906–29), Consumers' Cooperative Movement (1921), and Soviet Communism: A New Civilization? (2 vol., 1935). In 1922 Sidney Webb was elected to Parliament. He was president of the board of trade in the 1924 Labour government and secretary for the colonies from 1929 to 1931. In 1929 he was created Baron Passfield, a title his wife refused to share.

Bibliography

See Beatrice Webb's autobiographical My Apprenticeship (1926) and Our Partnership (1948); her diaries (ed. by M. I. Cole, 2 vol., 1952–56); biographies by M. I. Cole (1945) and K. Muggeridge and R. Adam (1968); M. I. Cole, ed. The Webbs and Their Work (1949).

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