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Picture of Richard Potter, Beatrice Webb’s Father and Corporate Capitalist

Richard Potter, Beatrice Webb’s Father and Corporate Capitalist

Author(s): Geoffrey Channon

Book Description

This book has a quite different orientation to existing studies of Richard Potter’s family. These tend to see Potter through the lens of his relationship with his most famous daughter, Beatrice (Webb) or through Beatrice and her eight siblings, all girls. In this book, Potter is the subject of study in his own right.

Earlier studies have taken the family’s income and wealth as a given. It was, however, the father’s activities as a businessman and investor, which sustained the material position of the family and therefore its upper-middle-class lifestyle and status. Potter was a new type of businessman, a corporate capitalist, who operated on an international stage. However, he also retained a very important link with a more traditional form of business organisation.

This book looks inside the principal companies in which Potter was the chairman (the Great Western and the Canadian Grand Trunk railways and the Gloucester Wagon Company), in order to make an assessment of his role and the contributions of his business activities to the family’s fortunes and social position. It also examines Potter’s relationships with his wife and daughters, describing how he drew them into some of his key business decisions and how he recognised the individuality of his daughters, encouraging them to read and think outside conventional boundaries, and to engage with the intellectuals who were part of the family circle, so shaping their lives as distinctive and strong adults.


ISBN-13: 978-1-5275-3106-2
ISBN-10: 1-5275-3106-6
Date of Publication: 01/06/2019
Pages / Size: 303 / A5
Price: £61.99


Geoffrey Channon is Emeritus Professor of History and former Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of the West of England. His publications include Railways in Britain and the United States, 1830-1940. Studies in Economic and Business History (2001).