Friedrich Engels

Friedrich Engels books and biography

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Le Rôle Du Travail

By Friedrich Engels
Politique Et Gouvernement

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Socialisme Utopique

By Friedrich Engels
Politique Et Gouvernement

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Friedrich Engels

Friedrich Engels
Name: Friedrich Engels
Birth: November 28, 1820 (Wuppertal, Germany)
Death: August 5, 1895 (London, England)
School/tradition: Marxism
Main interests: Political philosophy, Politics, Economics, class struggle
Notable ideas: Co-founder of Marxism (with Karl Marx), alienation and exploitation of the worker, historical materialism
Influences: Kant, Hegel, Feuerbach, Stirner, Smith, Ricardo, Rousseau, Goethe, Fourier
Influenced: Luxemburg, Lenin, Trotsky, Mao, Guevara, Sartre, Debord, Frankfurt School, Negri, more...

Friedrich Engels (November 28, 1820, Wuppertal – August 5, 1895, London), a 19th-century German political philosopher, developed communist theory alongside his better-known collaborator, Karl Marx, co-authoring The Communist Manifesto (1848). Engels also edited several volumes of Das Kapital after Marx's death.



Born in Barmen (now a part of Wuppertal in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany) as the eldest son of a successful German textile industrialist, Engels became involved in radical journalism as a teenager (Carver 2003:3). His father sent the young Engels to England in 1842 to help manage his cotton factory in Manchester. Shocked by the widespread poverty, Engels began writing an account which he published in 1845 as The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844 ([1]).

In the same year Engels began contributing to the journal Deutsch-franzsische Jahrbcher, which Arnold Ruge and Karl Marx edited and published in Paris. After Engels and Marx first met in person in September 1844 they discovered that they had similar views on philosophy and on capitalism, and decided to work more closely together. Their first common work, the book Die heilige Familie (The Holy Family), a polemic mainly written by Marx, attacked Marx's former mentor and friend Bruno Bauer and his circle. This book appeared in March 1845, about the time when Marx wrote the Theses on Feuerbach in his notebook.

After the French authorities deported Marx from France in January 1845, Engels and Marx decided to move to Belgium, which then permitted greater freedom of expression than some other countries in Europe.

Friedrich Engels as a soldier
Friedrich Engels as a soldier

In July 1845 Engels took Marx to England. There he met an Irish working-class woman named Mary Burns (Crosby), with whom he lived until her death in 1863 (Carver 2003:19). Later he lived with her sister, Lizzie, marrying her the day before she died in 1877 (Carver 2003:42). These women may have introduced him to the Chartist movement, of whose leaders he met several, including George Harney.

Engels and Marx returned to Brussels in January 1846, where they set up the Communist Correspondence Committee. They planned to unite socialist leaders living in different parts of Europe. Influenced by Marx's ideas, socialists in England held a conference in London in June 1847 and formed a new organization: the Communist League. Engels attended as a delegate and had a great impact on the developed strategy of action.

In 1847 Engels and Marx began writing a pamphlet together, based on Engels' The Principles of Communism. They completed the 12,000-word pamphlet in six weeks, writing it in such a manner as to make communism understandable to a wide audience, and published it as The Communist Manifesto in February 1848. In March, Belgium expelled both Engels and Marx. They moved to Cologne, where they began to publish a radical newspaper, the Neue Rheinische Zeitung.

Engels actively participated in the Revolution of 1848, taking part in the uprising at Elberfeld. Engels fought in the Baden campaign against the Prussians (June/July 1849) as the aide-de-camp of August Willich, who commanded a Free Corps in the Baden-Palatinate uprising. [2]

By 1849 both Engels and Marx had to leave Germany and moved to London. The Prussian authorities applied pressure on the British government to expel the two men, but Prime Minister Lord John Russell refused. With only the money that Engels could raise, the Marx family lived in extreme poverty.

Statue (1986) of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels near the Alexanderplatz in Berlin
Statue (1986) of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels near the Alexanderplatz in Berlin

In order to help provide Marx with an income, Engels returned to work for his father in Manchester, before moving back to London in 1870. After Marx's death in 1883, Engels devoted much of the rest of his life to editing and translating Marx's writings. However, he also contributed significantly to feminist theory, seeing for instance the concept of monogamous marriage as having arisen because of the domination of man over women. In this sense, he ties communist theory to the family, arguing that men have dominated women just as the capitalist class has dominated workers.

Engels died in London in 1895, childless. Following cremation at Woking, his ashes were scattered off Beachy Head, as he had requested [1].

Engels had a reputation as an avid bird-breeder.


Statue of Marx and Engels in the Statue Park, Budapest.
Statue of Marx and Engels in the Statue Park, Budapest.
  • Cola di Rienzi (1840?/1974)
  • Letters from Wuppertal [3]
  • The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844
  • Anti-Dhring [4]
  • Dialectics of Nature [5]
  • Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy [6]
  • The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State [7]
  • Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Germany (1845)[8]
  • The German Ideology (1845, with Marx) [9]
  • The Holy Family (with Marx) [10] (1845)
  • The Peasant War in Germany [11] (1850)
  • Socialism: Utopian and Scientific [12] (1880)

See also

  • Karl Marx
  • Marxism
  • Das Kapital


  • Carver, Terrell (2003). Engels: a very short introduction. Oxford Univarity Press.
  • Crosby, Danny: "Engels in Manchester" on the BBC website; retrieved on 17 June 2006.
  1. ^ ODNB Gareth Stedman Jones, "Engels, Friedrich (1820–1895)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, May 2006 [, accessed 20 June 2006]

This article might use material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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