1 minute read

Fabian Society

Manifesto, Fabian Essays in Socialism, The Story of Fabian Socialism, The First Fabians, Bernard Shaw

a group of socialist intellectuals dedicated to the principle of gradualist reform, which originated as a splinter group from Thomas Davidson's Fellowship of the New Life, a movement devoted to philosophical speculation. Its name was derived from the Roman general Quintus Fabius Maximus, whose delaying tactics in battle earned him the nickname ‘Cunctator’ or ‘the Delayer’. In 1884 the Society was first addressed by G. B. Shaw, whose Manifesto (1884) was characterized by his distinctive mixture of provocative statement and wit; other tracts arguing for reformist ideas, as opposed to the revolutionary methods advocated by Marxist and Anarchist groups of the period, were also published by Sidney Webb and his wife, Beatrice, who joined the Fabians at Shaw's instigation in 1885. Fabian Essays in Socialism (1889), edited by Shaw, with designs by Walter Crane and May Morris, did much to popularize socialist ideas. Other early Fabians were Annie Besant, G. D. H. Cole, E. Nesbit, Edward Carpenter, Rupert Brooke, Keir Hardie, Ramsay Macdonald, and Emmeline Pankhurst. Fabians have continued to attract distinguished members drawn from the socialist intelligentsia up to the present day, although its influence has declined with the rise of the Labour Party. Studies include: The Story of Fabian Socialism (1961), by Margaret Cole; The First Fabians (1977), by N. and J. Mackenzie. See also Bernard Shaw, vol. i (1988) by Michael Holroyd.

Additional topics

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Englefield Green Surrey to William Faulkner Biography