William Beveridge: A Biography

By Jose Harris | Go to book overview

A Note on the Second Edition

A SECOND edition of this book has become necessary for two reasons. Substantial new public and private archive sources have become available which throw light on the character and work of Beveridge (of which the most important are the Chester Papers at Nuffield College, Oxford, the Kaldor Papers at King's College, Cambridge, the Markham Papers at the British Library of Political Science, the Denman Papers in the Bodleian Library and the O'Malley Papers in the National Library of Ireland). And, secondly, the ideological revolution that has occurred since the late 1970s has provoked widespread interest in, and reassessment of, the historical legacy of the 'Beveridgean' welfare state. Much of the book remains largely unchanged, though a certain amount of detail has been excised from the earlier chapters and minor factual errors have been corrected throughout. The main changes will be found in a wholly new Chapter 1, which locates Beveridge's public career far more firmly in his private and personal life than was possible in 1977. In addition, Chapters 16, 17, and 18 -- dealing with the Beveridge Plan, its reception, and aftermath -- have been substantially re-written to take account both of new archival evidence and of recent historical writing on such issues as poverty, gender, popular politics, and public finance. Chapter 18 includes a much more extensive treatment of Beveridge's 1947 report on Voluntary Action. A new concluding chapter draws together the different strands in Beveridge's philosophy of social welfare much more precisely than in the first edition.

I have incurred a number of additional personal debts in preparing this new edition. My biggest debt is to Miss Jane O'Malley, not just for permission to use family letters and photographs, but for her interest in, and enthusiasm for, my attempt to reconstruct the 'inner' Beveridge and his relationship with her mother. I am also indebted to Dr Eunan O'Halpin for drawing Beveridge's correspondence with Mary Sanders to my attention. I had the pleasure of several conversations with Mr Richard Burn, husband of Beveridge's stepdaughter, Elspeth, who helped to clarify for me both Beveridge's thinking about the 'welfare state' in his later life, and his religious beliefs. Dr Daniel Waley, Rosy Addison, and Benita Stoney kindly filled in some personal details. I am very grateful also to the Warden and Fellows of Nuffield College for permission to use the D. N. Chester Papers; and to Mr Alan Tadiello of Balliol College for his help in unravelling the story of Arthur Collings Carré. The keeper of Western manuscripts at the Bodleian Library, and the librarians of the British Library of Political Science; King's College, Cambridge; the Joseph Rowntree Memorial Library; Balliol College, Oxford; the Mass Observation Archive, University of Sussex; the University of Reading; and Welwyn Garden City

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