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Beatrice: The Cadbury Heiress Who Gave Away Her Fortune Paperback – 14 Feb 2012
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"...meticulously researched and written in a lively fashion...really engages us with the subject and [Beatrice's] wider family and times." --Libro Blog book review, February 29, 2012
Beatrice Cadbury, daughter of the world-famous chocolate empire, grew up with all the privileges: a fine mansion with servants, a well-rounded education and the chance to travel the world and see all its glories. But being a ‘have’ in a world of ‘have-nots’ was troubling, and in 1920 she decided to ‘give back’ all the Cadbury shares she had inherited to the Bournville factory workers … with unexpected consequences. Join Beatrice on her astonishing journey from respectable Quaker girl to bold peace activist as she and her Dutch husband, Kees Boeke, relentlessly pursued their vision of a fairer and more equal society.
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I am a nursery nurse and have been for the last fifteen years, I have also seen many changes with in my nursery and with the governments changes in planning for children and teaching methods', so I can relate to some of the teaching methods' that Beatrice and her husband were trying to achieve and implement in their school. I believe that there are many similarities in the planning and teaching methods we are using today.
It becomes farcical when the workers they are trying to help feel they have to smuggle in food parcels to keep their family going. It is a bit weak in some areas where possibly research was difficult.
"Just the facts, ma'am," This catchphrase from Dragnet, the crime drama about LAPD Joe Friday, kept coming to mind as I read Fiona Joseph's biography of Beatrice Cadbury. Sergeant Friday, famed for his worldweary plea that loquacious females stick to the point, would surely have approved of this old-style, research-driven biography about one of the daughters of the world-famous chocolate empire.
What makes Beatrice Cadbury worthy of a biography is a series of radical decisions she took, along with her Dutch husband Kees Boeke, to put their life of relative privilege to use in ways that would benefit others. This extended not just to returning her fortune to the Cadbury workers whose labour had created it -- for as well as being an heiress, Beatrice was a Friend (Quaker) and her privilege troubled her -- but to trying to live without money altogether, even to the extent of watching their children go hungry and ill.
And there's more.
With each chapter, the actions of these extraordinary people further amaze.
Beatrice was an exceptional woman, and her lifelong quest to create a fairer and more equal society is inspirational, if at times, bordering on self-destruction. The issues raised by her life - how the 1% of those who have most material wealth or power treat the 99% of those who have less -- are timeless, and utterly relevant today. She lived a long and eventful life and in structure, Joseph favours a traditional approach, taking us chronologically through from birth to death.
You won't find psychoanalytical or feminist theorising here. No faction. Little dialogue. A minimum of scene setting. Yet because Beatrice's decisions are so extraordinary, and because Joseph's writing style is so clear and engaged, this life story has the grip of a novel.
The author's careful and caring hand turns her straightforward presentation of what happened when into a compelling biography that in the reading becomes a great deal than the sum of its facts.
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I come from this area and was interested in the Cadbury family and this was part of the story...Read more