An Edwardian Mixed Doubles: The Bosanquets versus the Webbs

A Study in British Social Policy 1890-1929
McBriar, A.M.
Date published: 
January 1987

This book examines social policy in the Edwardian age in relation to poverty and unemployment - issues which remain at the heart of our social concerns. These are presented through the conflict of ideas between two husband-and-wife teams of social theorists: the fabian socialists, Sidney and Beatrice Webb, and the spokesmen of the Charity Organization Society, the philosopher Bernard Bosanquet and his wife Helen. Their polemics, which began in the early 1890s, culminated at the lengthy inquiries of the Royal Commission on the Poor Laws of 1905-1909, in which Beatrice Webb played a major part and Helen Bosanquet a so-far unrecognized but equally important role on the other side. Their argument is pursued at many levels, from that of practical social work to philosophical speculation. Based on official sources, personal papers, and primary published material, the book gives a full account of a splendid Edwardian tournament, and challenges some earlier historical commentaries upon it.