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Sylvia Nasar

Webb, Churchill and the Birth of the Welfare State: Sylvia Nasar

“You are young, pretty, rich, clever, what more do you want?” Beatrice Potter’s poor relation asked her with a trace of exasperation. “Why cannot you be satisfied?”

Like the heroine of Henry James’s 1881 novel, “Portrait of a Lady,” Beatrice had been brought up with an unusual freedom to travel, read, form friendships and satisfy her “great desire for knowledge.” Born in 1858 as the ninth daughter of a railway magnate and political liberal, she was “brought up in the midst of capitalist speculation” and “the restless spirit of big enterprise.”