Marx: reader at the British Library


Marx: reader at the British Library


  • Intro

    In his 1848 work The Communist Manifesto, the German writer Karl Marx (1818-1883) argued that capitalism would inevitably self-destruct, to be replaced ultimately by Communism. Marx was writing at a time of unprecedented industrial and social change. As newly industrialised cities expanded they became overcrowded by a dependent workforce, many of whom lived in abject poverty in contrast with the relative wealth of their employers. Against this backdrop, Marx formulated his theory of history, which he saw as a complex series of class struggles that would lead inevitably to the overthrow of the bourgeoisie (the ruling class) by the proletariat (the working classes).


    Marx was exiled to London in 1849 and lived the rest of his life there. Much of his time was spent in the reading rooms of the British Museum (which then housed the British Library collection) - this is his entry in the 1873 admissions register. There he worked on his most celebrated book Das Kapital. It puts forward his theory of political economy, with its celebrated phrase 'From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs'.


    Shelfmark: Add. MS 54579, f.1

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