Engels' description of factory conditions, 1844

German writer and political theorist Friedrich Engels (1820-95) is perhaps best remembered as the co-author, with Karl Marx, of The Communist Manifesto in 1848. But Engels' view of capitalism as a doomed excuse for the rich to exploit the poor and uneducated had been developed in his first book 'The Condition of the Working Class in England' of 1844.

In often revolutionary language, it draws on his experiences while living in Manchester, then at the heart of the industrial revolution. He gave up 'the dinner-parties... and champagne of the middle classes' and instead spent time talking to the workers. Engels was horrified by the child labour, environmental damage, low wages, bad conditions, poor health, death rates - and the 'social and political power of your oppressors'. Containing many important and ground-breaking early thoughts on socialism, the book is still widely read today.

In the pages displayed here, Engels discusses the appalling conditions to which factory workers were subjected.