FOR 30 YEARS, it has scarcely been possible to discuss development anywhere in the world without bringing in Barbara Ward, who died in her native England on Sunday. Less theorist than popularizer, she had a fervent commitment, with a strong religious -- Catholic -- base, to the eradication of poverty and misery everywhere and to the participation of the privileged nations in that task. At the sevice of her calling she put her brillance as a journalist, immense charm and a sure knowledge of the ways of politics. She became that rarity among public figures: someone with a nag's cause but without nag's manner. This gave her access to the mighty. She was the model of the informed internationalist conscience.

During and after the war, Miss Ward was a leading figure of the Atlantic establishment. Her subsequent marriage to Sir Robert Jackson, a development expert, took her to India and Ghana, where she saw decolonization firsthand from the former colonies' end and developed a keen empathy with them. This was characteristic of Miss Ward. She was always poking into new places, investigating new people and books and ideas -- even after cancer slowed her pace -- and knitting her discoveries into the running pattern of her life. The process made her mind one of the central depositories of 20th century experience, and it made a personal encounter with her a sparkling, if sometimes exhausting, delight.

Her thinking was not for everybody: she had a faith in progress, in the benevolent potential of technology and social organization, in the applications of power, that was sometimes so strong and all-consuming as to seem unhistorical. Her life, however, had a passionate meaning. She could not abide injustice.