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Beatrice Webb

( 1858 - 1943 )

Social scientist

Beatrice Webb, Baroness Passfield was a social scientist and one of the founders of the London School of Economics.

Read more in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Beatrice Webb

Beatrice Webb, by Jessie Holliday, chalk, c. 1909, © National Portrait Gallery, London, CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0

Beatrice Webb, Baroness Passfield was one of the leading economists, sociologists and labour historians of the early twentieth century. Largely self-taught, Webb became a prominent member of the Fabian Society along with her husband Sidney Webb, with whom she worked closely on progressive causes.

In 1895 she was among the founders of the London School of Economics (LSE), a new kind of institution in London which was intended to 'teach political economy on more modern and more socialist lines'.

Together the Webbs published extensively on trade unionism, the co-operative movement and English local government. From 1905 Webb sat on the Royal Commission on the Poor Law, a tool of government of which she was highly critical. Her minority report, and proposed reforms, were later adopted by Asquith's Liberal government.

The LSE joined the federal University of London in 1900, becoming the University's Faculty of Economics and awarding degrees of the University from 1902. The future Labour prime minister, Clement Attlee, later commented that 'millions are living fuller and freer lives today because of the work of Sidney and Beatrice Webb.'

Find out more about Beatrice Webb and the Fabian Society on BBC Radio 4.

Affiliated with

London School of Economics