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18 June 2014
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Illustration from Engel's 'The Condition of the Working-Class in England'

© Working Class Movement Library
Engels in Manchester

Lizzie Burns
Lizzie Burns
During the next few years, Engels continued his political journey. He met with Marx again in 1844. From that day a lifelong friendship and unity of purpose began. They wrote and published the ’Communist Manifesto’ together in 1848. During the summer of 1845, both Engels and Marx visited Manchester. Engels took Mary back to the continent with him and they were never separated again.

Engels returned to Manchester in November 1850. Again he came to work for the family firm. There were several reasons for this. One of which was to avoid possible arrest for his involvement in the uprisings in Germany during 1848 and 1849. Another though was in order to finance the work of Marx.

It was felt that Marx needed to devote all his time to researching and writing Das Kapital. Therefore someone would have to support him financially if he was to achieve this. Engels decided that he would have to do so. He did not do this purely out of friendship, although the bond between the two men was now very strong. He believed that Marx had the superior analytical mind and was therefore better suited to task of writing and researching what was to become Das Kapital.

Again Engels returned to the double life. On the overt side he was living as a respected businessman and leading figure of the Manchester German community. He was a member of the Albert club and Shiller-Anstalt, of which he became president in 1864, and participated in the Cheshire Hunt. He often entertained the ‘philistines’, as he described them, at his official lodgings. These society and business associates knew nothing of his great intellectual abilities. On the covert side he shared his unofficial home with Mary Burns, her sister Lizzie (Lydia) and her niece. Following Mary’s death Lizzie became Engels ‘wife’. Here he met with those who shared his communist and revolutionary convictions. He adopted secretive methods in order to keep these two lives separate.

Words: Danny Crosby

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