Many of the Manchester Ballads date from the period that Engels and Marx lived and worked in Manchester. In his introduction to Engels Condition of the Working Classes in England, David McLellan notes that Engels’ “personal observation was supported by reading masses of papers, statistical reports, and pamphlets” (McLellan 1993: xiii). It is intriguing to think Engels’ work was perhaps informed in part by reading some of the broadside ballads, perhaps even some included in The Manchester Ballads
He lived around Angel Meadow (McLellan 1993), which is just a few minutes walk from the Swan Street area of New Cross, a major loci of broadside production at the time. Many of the pubs in the area lay claim that Marx and Engels were visitors, and they probably heard the broadside tradition being sung in pubs and markets around Shudehill. There is a table next to a window in Chethams Library where they are known to have worked – the same library that held many of the broadsides in its collections.