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Beatrice Webb (Beatrice Martha Webb) (1858–1943), and Sidney Webb (Sidney James Webb) Biography

(1859–1947), (Beatrice Martha Webb), (Sidney James Webb), Life and Labour of the People of London

British writers on sociology and political reform. Beatrice, née Potter, born in Standish, Gloucester, was encouraged in her intellectual development by Herbert Spencer (18201903), a friend of her wealthy family. She witnessed conditions among the poor while collecting rents on family properties in London and assisted Charles Booth (18401916) with research for Life and Labour of the People of London (17 volumes, 18911902). The son of a shopkeeper, Sidney was born in London and educated at the City of London College; he was a civil servant from 1878 to 1892, the year in which he married Beatrice and became a member of London County Council. Both were energetic members of the Fabian Society. The History of Trade Unionism (1894) initiated their prolific collaboration as writers, which, with their political activities, was a major factor in the development of the Labour Party and the formulation of its policies. Among their many publications are Industrial Democracy (2 volumes, 1897), The State and the Doctor (1910), The Decay of Capitalist Civilization (1923), and English Local Government (9 volumes, 190629). They were closely involved in the founding of the London School of Economics in 1895 and of the New Statesman in 1913. H. G. Wells, with whom they had a long association, unflatteringly based the self-regarding Baileys of The New Machiavelli (1911) on the Webbs. Sidney became Lord Passfield in 1929 after some years as a Member of Parliament. Beatrice produced two volumes of autobiography entitled My Apprenticeship (1926) and Our Partnership (1948); N. and J. Mackenzie edited her Diary (4 volumes, 19826). Beatrice and Sidney Webb, Fabian Socialists by Lisanne Radice appeared in 1984.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Robert Penn Warren Biography to Kenneth White Biography