Eric Hobsbawm


Eric Hobsbawm was one of the most important and recognized historians in the world, mainly in contemporary times , also considered one of the most influential men of the 20th century . After his death, many media were in charge of highlighting all his Marxist contributions to history and his ideological approaches after the fall of the Soviet regime.


Personal information

  • When was he born: 06/09/1917
  • Where he was born: Alexandria, Egypt
  • When did he die: 10/01/2012
  • Where he died: London, UK

Who was Eric Hobsbawm?

Eric Hobsbawm was one of the most important and relevant British historians in contemporary historiography . He was the author of different works related to the Industrial Revolution , social movements and the contemporary history of Europe.


Eric Hobsbawm Biography

Eric Hobsbawm was born in the city of Alexandria located in Egypt , in 1917 . Descendant of a Jewish family, he grew up in Vienna and Berlin. His father was Percy Hobsbawm who died in 1929 and his mother Nelly Grün who passed away shortly thereafter. He was adopted along with his sister by his uncles and with them he lived in the United Kingdom.


When he was fourteen he decided to join the Berlin Communist Party and in 1936 he joined the British Communist Party . From a young age, he had a strong work ethic and focused on reading as well. He managed to enter to study at King’s College at the University of Cambridge where he graduated as a doctor in history . He tried to teach at this university, however he did not succeed and for this reason, he began to work as a history teacher at the University of London .

Eric Hobsbawm was also part of a secret society that would later become very famous, the intellectual elite known as the Cambridge Apostles , which was considered a totally communist youth which was part of the Communist Party. He was also part of the Corps of Engineers during World War II for the Royal Navy.

He obtained a specialization in the field of contemporary history and wrote several important books. His life was surrounded by academic lectures, the writing of dissertations and the editing of important magazines, thus becoming one of the most influential intellectuals in Great Britain. He suffered for many years from leukemia and due to complications he died at the Royal Free hospital located in London, where he was admitted to combat a pneumonia problem on October 1, 2012.

Eric Hobsbawm’s personal life

Eric Hobsbawm was married twice. The first one with Muriel Seaman and the second with a woman named Marlene . He also had three children, Andy , Julia and Joseph.


Perhaps one of his most important contributions was thanks to his Marxist vision, which helped build the discipline of social history . He is also considered one of the most important key thinkers in the history of the 20th century. He was a man who could previously observe the prevailing trend that would lead to liberal capitalism that is manifesting today.

He also focused on making the traditions known and his study and work served as a context for the development of the state of the nation . His contributions have been recognized by the historiography of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and were focused on the study of movements of a social nature , in the different labor movements and history . His ideals about the importance of being able to establish a model to explain the way in which societies work have been maintained to this day.

Eric Hobsbawm’s Thought

Eric Hobsbawm’s thinking was focused on the development of traditions , on criticism against elites and on the construction of modern states , showing with his way of thinking the connection that he believed existed between politics and economics . His ideas regarding politics always generated great controversy, his ideas were always on the socialist side and for him, social injustice was an issue that should always be denounced and fought.

Physical characteristics

He was a man of thin build , with prominent ears and pointy nose . His hair was brown, however with the passage of time, it changed to a white tone due to the presence of gray. His face was very profiled and his forehead was also prominent.


Experts and historians consider that Eric Hobsbawm’s personality was always very transparent , he never hid anything and also always showed his sympathies towards the communist movement. On a personal level, his personality was quite warm , he was a very loyal and also kind man . At the same time he had a rather arrogant personality at times , a bit irritable and moody . He was not beating around the bush, nor did he have an appreciation for political correctness, nor did he waste time thinking about things he considered banal and silly.


Its importance lies in all its extensive and deep historical work that managed to document a large amount of information about the 19th and 20th centuries . In addition, thanks to their contributions, it was possible to understand the injustices caused by the capitalist system and social justice was motivated .

Eric Hobsbawm Quotes

Some of his most recognized phrases are mentioned below:

  • It is easier to love humanity in general than your own neighbor.
  • We don’t really know where we are going, just that history has brought us to this point.
  • One thing is very clear: if humanity is to have a future, it will not be prolonged by the past or the present. When we try to build the third millennium using these foundations, then we are going to fail.
  • All social injustice must be denounced and fought. The world cannot fix itself.
  • Every historian has his private life, a private place from which he has the ability to probe the world.


There were many works written by Eric Hobsbawm, however, some of the most recognized and important are the following:

  • Eras Trilogies , a book that talks about political events and the economy as well as the development of science and art for the formation of a global world.
  • History of the twentieth century where the history of the time faces.
  • How to change the world in which he conducts a study on “Marx today” and the organized labor movement .
  • The Era of the Empire , a book in which he refers to the apogee and the catastrophe of the liberal bourgeoisie , a movement that thought it had built a world full of peace and progress.
  • The Echoes of the Marseillaise , where he refers to the French Revolution , its history and interpretation.
  • Industry and Empire , a book that talks about the history of the economy and society of Great Britain.
  • A Time of Ruptures , a book where he talks about what had happened to the art and culture of bourgeois society. It also refers to the generation after 1914.


Some of the main recognitions obtained by Eric Hobsbawm were the following:

  • Honorary Fellow Award from King’s College awarded by the University of Cambridge.
  • Lionel Gelber Award from the University of Toronto.
  • Wolfson History Award .
  • Mention to the Order of Companions of Honor.
  • Leipzig Literary Prize .
  • Honoris Causa by the University of the Republic in Uruguay.
  • Balzan Award .
  • He was appointed Honorary Citizen of Vienna .
  • Bochum History Prize awarded by the Ruhr University in Germany.

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