Frederick Engels wrote this book in 1884, basing his analysis on notes left behind by Marx on the work of American anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan. Engels added new material from his own research on the ancient societies of the Greeks, Romans, Celts, and Germans.
The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State
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Frederick Engels (1820-1895) was a lifelong friend and collaborator of Karl Marx. Together with Marx he elaborated the theory and program of scientific socialism.
Engels was born in Bremen in the Rhine Province of the kingdom of Prussia, the son of a textile manufacturer. In 1838, due to family circumstances, he quit his studies and went to work as a clerk at a commercial house in the town of his birth. At this time he began studying Hegel and started literary and journalistic work. In 1842 he settled in Manchester, England, working in a commercial firm in which his father was a shareholder. Based on his observations of social realities in Manchester at the time, he wrote his famous Conditions of the Working Class in England.
In 1844 Engels met Marx for the first time in Paris. He assisted Marx in writing the Holy Family, which outlined the foundations of materialism and socialism. It would be the start of a friendship that lasted until Marx’s death. From 1845-1847 Engels lived in Paris and in Brussels. At that time Marx and Engels were approached by the German Communist League to write a pamphlet explaining the principles of communism; the result was the Communist Manifesto.
Together with Marx, Engels participated in the revolution in Germany in 1848. In 1849 Engels took part in an armed uprising in South Germany. After the defeat of the rebels he escaped to England via Switzerland, where he rejoined Marx. Until 1870 he worked in a manufacturing firm where his father was a shareholder. He provided essential financial support to Marx, who was engaged in writing Capital at the time.
Engels returned to London in 1870 and continued his close collaboration with Marx until the latter’s death in 1883. In addition to assisting in the publication of all three volumes of Capital both before and after Marx’s death, he wrote many works during this period dealing with philosophical, political, and scientific questions, including Anti-Duhring, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State and Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy.
He continued to play an active role in the affairs of the European workers’ movement until his death on August 5, 1895 in London.