Born in Gloucestershire in 1858, Martha Beatrice Webb (nee
Potter) was a prominent pioneer of
social science in Britain and a leading social reformer.
She married Sidney Webb in 1892 and together they shared a
lifelong partnership filled with common professional and political causes,
including playing crucial roles in the formation of The Fabian Society and
co-founding the London School of Economics and the New Statesman periodical.
Beatrice made a number of important contributions to the political
and economic theory of the co-operative movement. She coined the
term ‘collective bargaining’, the process by which employers and employees negotiate,
and the Welfare State setup by the post-war Labour government was testament to
her lifelong research and campaigning.
In 1929, Sidney and Martha became Baron and Baroness Passfield, as members of the House of Lords. In 1932, she became the first women to be elected a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA).
Beatrice Webb house, a residential block constructed in 1988
was named in honour of her pioneering work.