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Just starting read of your posting, I think about FOX.
Don´t worry. May be the author is "fatting" the toolkit, but at least the
latest stable release is very complete and bug-free, and can be confidently
used, not matter what other paths the main develop follows.
I downloaded and tried, and it works ok. I also tried an extension library
( fxex ), and it works fine too.
The versions I refer to are
fox 1.0.40
fxex 0.0.5
Of course, fox has a string class. But to the most part, it´s a small
library, and as decoupled as a GUI toolkit can be. Statically linked ( also
the xlib support ) every test program is less than 1 Mb code.
I also tried FLTK. It´s nice and small, but to me, the great merit of FOX is
its ´signal-slot´ mechanism, implemented directly and not thru
precompilation like Qt.
FLTK is more traditional, callback based, and that is a trouble.
Try it !
fxex has a html parser, but it´s not coupled to any socket, I think.