This book is not a definitive Life of Beatrice Webb, nor a definitive study of the unique partnership which has had so enormous an influence upon the social and political thought and action of two generations of English life. Before either of these can be written, years will have to pass and, at the least, the remainder of Beatrice's great Diaries be made publicly available, so that she will, as she did in My Apprenticeship, tell her own story largely in her own words. All that the present volume claims to be is a brief account, for this generation, of the "life and times" of the greatest woman I have ever known, set down by one who had the privilege of being her friend and her fellow‐ worker within the Fabian Society.
It is a portrait of Beatrice, not of Sidney, and therefore deals with the great range of activities of Beatrice's husband only in so far as they were bound up with hers, or necessary in order to understand hers. It therefore, for example, passes very lightly over the story of his work for English secondary and university education and his long and effective labours in the Fabian Society and on the London County Council, which ought to be the objects of special study; it only uses them in order to build up the picture of Beatrice's own development.
In writing it I have made use, naturally, of Mrs.M. A. Hamilton's Sidney and Beatrice Webb, the only full-length study of the Webbs which has been written in England, and of the articles which appeared in various periodicals immediately after Beatrice's death. I have also to thank Lord Passfield for giving me permission to quote from his own writings and their joint publications, for lending photographs, and for reading the book in MS.; Mrs. Barbara Drake for reading chapter by chap-