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Beatrice Webb: A Life Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-1566630016 ISBN-10: 1566630010 Edition: 1st American ed

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In her evangelical crusade for a more just society, Beatrice Webb (1858-1943) suppressed the emotional and feminine elements in her personality, as this exemplary biography reveals. A railway magnate's daugther, she renounced her sexual passion for charismatic, male-chauvinist politician Joseph Chamberlain, the great love of her life. In an act of class rebellion, she married a Cockney hairdresser's son, Sidney Webb, whom she found physically repulsive. With deep remorse, she forsook motherhood for the sake of their literary and political partnership which, according to English writer Seymour-Jones, exacted a heavy price--mental breakdown, anorexia nervosa and a hardening of her personality into a didactic, puritanical mold. The woman who laid the groundwork for the modern welfare state emerges here as a deeply conflicted person who kept a tight rein on the mystical, artistic and sexual impulses that simmered beneath her brittle facade. This demythologizing life story rescues Beatrice Webb from her husband's shadows and reverberates with implications for contemporary women. Photos.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In her lifetime and long after, Beatrice Webb elicited both admiration and irritation--often simultaneously. In this sympathetic but balanced biography, she seems both victim and provocateur, with her ambivalence toward the Victorian feminine ideal complicating her response to religion, love, and ambition. Here, the element of choice in her romances is a bit overdrawn (Chamberlain never actually proposed, and Sidney Webb won her by sheer persistence), but relentless tensions in her life and character, particularly over career vs. family, justify Seymour-Jones's vision of Webb as a "woman of conflict." The psychological portrait is perceptive and temperate. Of equal interest is Webb's political development, as she departs from her privileged background to become an ardent Fabian Socialist, a founder of the London School of Economics and The New Statesman, and, lastly, a "believer" in Soviet communism. A thorough yet readable life of an original and committed woman.
-Patricia Dooley, Univ. of Washington Lib. Sch., Seattle
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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