Karl Marx, Capital and the British Library

Feed the Mind: Diana Siclovan

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Find out about the British Library’s unique holdings relating to Karl Marx

Karl Marx, a Reader at the British Museum, also donated copies of his own works to the Library. Find out what these unique editions, now held by the British Library, reveal about his life and work.

Karl Marx famously spent long hours in the Reading Room of the British Museum, working on what would become his most iconic work, Capital. Originally published in German in 1867, volume one of Das Kapital was revised and translated several times (into Russian and French) during Marx’s lifetime, while an English translation, as well as volumes two and three of Capital, did not come out until after his death in 1883. 

Marx as a reader in the Round Reading Room remains a vivid image in the public imagination. What is far less known is that he also deposited copies of his own, newly-published works at the British Museum (whose book collection was incorporated into the British Library in the 20th century). The Library’s donations register reveals multiple entries relating to deposits by ‘Dr Marx’ at ‘1 Maitland Road’. As was recently discovered, one of these editions even contains handwritten annotations, very likely in Marx’s own hand.

Dr Diana Siclovan (British Library), Izzy Gibbin (UCL) and Dr Pepijn Brandon (International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam) will present these recent findings from the British Library collections and discuss what they might contribute to ongoing Marx scholarship, notably the MEGA project that aims to publish the complete writings of Marx and Engels. Some of the items discussed in this talk are exhibited in the Treasures Gallery as part of a display on Karl and Eleanor Marx from 1 May to 5 August 2018.

Image: Title pages of Le Capital (1872 – 5), donated by Karl Marx to the British Museum. C.120.g.2.


Name: Karl Marx, Capital and the British Library
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
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When: -
Price: Full Price: £5.00
Member: £5.00
Senior 60+: £4.50
Student: £4.00
Registered Unemployed: £4.00
Under 18: £4.00
Friend of the British Library: £5.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546