Sidney and Beatrice Webb

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Charles Booth (1840—1916) shipowner and social investigator


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Sidney Webb, Baron Passfield (1859–1947), and his wife, Beatrice, née Potter (1858–1943), were social reformers whose writings on economic and social history were enormously influential in the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. They were prominent members of the Fabian Society, helped to found the London School of Economics (1895), and began the New Statesman (1913). Sidney Webb was Labour MP for Seaham (County Durham, 1922–9) and President of the Board of Trade (1924). As Baron Passfield he was Colonial Secretary (1929–31). The Webbs’ monumental work English Local Government (10 vols, 1906–29) remains a basic source of information on this subject. Beatrice Webb was an early investigator in the East End of London for Charles Booth's survey of life and labour; see Rosemary O’Day, ‘Before the Webbs: Beatrice Potter's Early Investigations for Charles Booth's Inquiry’, History, 78 (1993). The other major works of the Webbs included The History of Trade Unionism (1894, rev., extended, 1920), and Industrial Democracy (1897, 2nd edn, 1902).

Subjects: History.

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