The Condition of the Working Class in England
Friedrich Engels, Victor Kiernan
(Penguin Classics, June 2, 1987)
Written when Engels was only twenty-four, and inspired in particular by his time living among the poor in Manchester, this forceful polemic explores the staggering human cost of the Industrial Revolution in Victorian England. Engels paints an unforgettable picture of daily life in the new industrial towns, and for miners and agricultural workers—depicting overcrowded housing, abject poverty, child labour, sexual exploitation, dirt and drunkenness—in a savage indictment of the greed of the bourgeoisie. His fascinating later preface, written for the first English edition of 1892 and included here, brought the story up to date in the light of forty years’ further reflection. A masterpiece of committed reporting and an impassioned call to arms, this is one of the great pioneering works of social history. Based on the original translation by Florence Wischnewetzky, this volume is edited by Victor Kiernan, whose foreword considers Engels’s friendship with Marx, and the book’s position as a seminal work of socialism. Also included are notes, a detailed index, new chronology and further reading and a revised forward.