Friedrich Engels (1820 – 95)

Friedrich Engels wrote one of the classic critiques of the consequences of the Industrial Revolution in England, devoted much of his life to supporting and publicising the writings of Karl Marx, and was himself an original thinker whose ideas in the 20th century have influenced new approaches to the past, including feminist history.

 

Engels was born in Barmen (since 1929 part of Wuppertal), where his birthplace, a bourgeois house of 1775, is preserved as part of the city`s history centre, which also includes a museum of industrial archaeology. He was the son of a cotton manufacturer, and spent three years in the employment of a merchant in Bremen, before moving to a managerial post with the family concern in Manchester, one of many Germans who worked in the textile cities of northern England during the 19th century.

 

Within twenty months he wrote "The Condition of the Working Classes in England", which was published in 1845. It reflects the anger and the guilt of a member of a mercantile family at the living conditions that observed in the most deprived areas of Manchester and Salford with which he was acquainted, but much of his historical material and evidence from other parts of England was drawn from secondary sources.

 

He first met Karl Marx at Cologne in 1842 when he was en route to Manchester, and renewed the contact in 1844. Both spent time in Belgium after Marx was expelled from France in 1845, and Engels was involved with the preparation of Marx`s Communist Manifesto, published in 1848. Marx and Engels were expelled from Belgium in 1849, and after spending some time in Cologne returned to England, where Marx settled in London and continued writing, and Engels worked in Manchester, providing financial support for his colleague, before moving to London in 1870. After Marx died in 1883 Engels devoted much of his time to publishing his works.