Edward Bellamy

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Edward Bellamy
Edward Bellamy.jpg

Born March 26, 1850
Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts
Died May 22, 1898
Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts
Spouse Emma Sanderson

Edward Bellamy (March 26, 1850 – May 22, 1898) was a socialist author who published the book Looking Backward. Under the title of 'nationalism', he brought socialism into the United States.[1]

In 1882 Bellamy married Emma Sanderson, and later they had two children.[2]

Early life

American author and social reformer, was born at Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts, on the 25th of March 1850. He studied for a time at Union College, Schenectady, New York, and in Germany; was admitted to the bar in 1871; but soon engaged in newspaper work, first as an associate editor of the Springfield Union, Mass., and then as an editorial writer for the New York Evening Post.

Literary career

After publishing three novelettes (Six to One, Dr Heidenhoff's Process and Miss Ludington's Sister), pleasantly written and showing some inventiveness in situation, but attracting no special notice, in 1888 he caught the public attention with Looking Backward, 2000-1887, in which he set forth ideas of co-operative or semi-socialistic life in village or city communities.

Looking Backward

Looking Backward was widely circulated in America and Europe, and was translated into several foreign languages. It was at first judged merely as a romance, but was soon accepted as a statement of the deliberate wishes and methods of its author, who devoted the remainder of his life as editor, author, lecturer and politician, to the promotion of the communistic theories of Looking Backward, which he called "nationalism"; a Nationalist party (the main points of whose immediate programme, according to Bellamy, were embodied in the platform of the People's party of 1892) was organized, but obtained no political hold.


Following the publication of his book Looking Backward, there began what was called at the time a "Nationalist movement".[3] Toward the height of its popularity, there were "no fewer than 162 Nationalist Clubs in existence."[4] The "nationalist movement" used the word 'nationalism' as a euphemism for the nationalization of industry;[5] that is, socialism.

Later years

In 1897 Bellamy published Equality, a sequel to Looking Backward. He died of tuberculosis at Chicopee Falls on the 22nd of May 1898.[6]


Noted marxist Erich Fromm wrote the foreword for the 1960 edition of Looking Backward,[7] in which he wrote regarding Bellamy's word choice:

He(Bellamy) called this movement "nationalist," referring by this word both to the nationalization of all means of production and to the fact that only this form of society could bring about the rich flowering of a nation's life.[8]


  • "Who is capable of self-support?" he demanded. "There is no such thing in a civilized society as self-support. In a state of society so barbarous as not even to know family cooperation, each individual may possibly support himself, though even then for a part of his life only; but from the moment that men begin to live together, and constitute even the rudest sort of society, self-support becomes impossible. As men grow more civilized, and the subdivision of occupations and services is carried out, a complex mutual dependence becomes the universal rule."[9]


See also


  1. (1900) Social democracy red book. Debs publishing Company, 42. “The American awakening to Socialism began with the appearance of Edward Bellamy's "Looking Backward" in 1888, although in 1884 Laurence Gronlund's "Co-operative Commonwealth" was the first book to place the new theory before American readers in a popular way. This had a very fair sale and set many prominent men to thinking along new lines - and among them probably the novelist Edward Bellamy himself. "Looking Backward" was not at all scientific in its conception of Socialism or the probable Socialistic state, but it came as a great message to the American people, nevertheless, and its success was phenomenal. In the succeeding few years over 600,000 copies were sold and for a time it had a record of sales of over 1,000 a day. Still it must be noted that the word Socialism nowhere appeared in the book. Bellamy and his converts at once organized clubs, which, with a cowardice that was perhaps justified, they called Nationalist clubs, and they persisted in calling their Socialism Nationalism.” 
  2. American Naturalistic and Realistic Novelists: A Biographical Dictionary
  3. (2013) The Edward Bellamy Megapack: 20 Classic Novels and Stories. Wildside Press LLC, 9. 
  4. Looking Backwards from 2000 to 1887 (Annotated). Bronson Tweed Publishing, 142. 
  5. (2005) Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers, Volume 1. A&C Black, 188. 
  6. The Encyclopedia of the Industrial Revolution in World History, Volume 3
  7. (1960) Looking Backward. 
  8. (1987) Liberal Thought in Modern America. 
  9. Looking Backward, Page 132

External links