This paper will examine the close personal relations between three of the most prominent British social reformers of the twentieth century. Tawney and Temple were at school together; all three overlapped as students in the same Oxford college; Tawney married Beveridge's sister; they remained friends and colleagues for the rest of their lives. What do these personal relationships tell us about social politics in Britain between 1900-1950? Can the Welfare State be reduced to three interlocking biographies? And in what ways was the English intellectual and political elite different from the French elite in this period?
Lawrence Goldman is Director of the Institute of Historical Research, London. He was formerly Fellow and Tutor in History at St. Peter's College, Oxford and also the Editor of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography for ten years from its publication in 2004. His biography of R. H. Tawney was published in 2012.