Sidney and Beatrice

Michael Holroyd

  • A Victorian Courtship: The Story of Beatrice Potter and Sidney Webb by Jeanne MacKenzie
    Weidenfeld, 148 pp, £5.50

‘I can’t help it being “Beauty and the Beast,” ’ wrote Sidney Webb to Beatrice Potter shortly before their marriage in 1892, ‘ – if only it is not a case of Titania and Bottom!’ The courtship of this super-extraordinary pair – ‘two active self-centred people, excessively devoted to the public cause,’ as H.G. Wells characterised them in The New Machiavelli – was the oddest romance in the Fabian calendar and a triumph for Sidney’s policy of gradualism.

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