|Sidney Webb, 1930s|
Beatrice Potter recorded in her diary her first meeting with Sidney Webb (14th February, 1890)
"Sidney Webb the socialist dined here to meet the Booths. A remarkable little man with a huge head on a very tiny body: a breadth of forehead quite sufficient to account for the encyclopaedic character of his knowledge, a Jewish nose, prominent eyes and mouth, black hair, somewhat unkempt, spectacles and a most bourgeois black coat shiny with wear; regarded as a whole somewhat between a London card and a German Professor. To keep to externals: his pronunciation is cockney, his Hs are shaky, his attitudes by no means eloquent - with his thumbs fixed pugnaciously in a far from immaculate waistcoat, with his bulky head thrown back and his little body forward he struts even when he stands, delivering himself with extraordinary rapidity of thought and utterance and with an expression of inexhaustible self-complacency. But I like the man. There is a directness of speech, an open-mindedness, an imaginative warm-heartedness which should carry him far. He has the self-complacency of one who is always thinking faster than his neighbours, who is untroubled by doubts, and to whom the acquisition of facts is as easy as the grasping of matter; but he has no vanity and is totally unself-conscious."
An interesting and beautiful description of another human being and, perhaps one of the best expressions of love at first sight that I have ever read.
You can read and compare the manuscript and typescript version of this extract on the LSE Digital Library. Trust me, there is a mountain of incredibly interesting text here that can be used to tell amazingly resonate stories.
Related sources: LSE News archive; New Statesman.
In a digital world no book is an island
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