Anarchy Man!

thin line

The Anarchist Encyclopedia:
A Gallery of Saints & Sinners ...

thin line

Max Nettlau; source
// --
Max Nettlau, (1865-1944)

Biographical notes

Max Nettlau was an Austrian anarchist active in the movement for over sixty years. He contributed to nearly all the major anarchist publications of his day, & wrote many biographies of leading anarchists, including Mikhail Bakunin & Errico Malatesta. Perhaps the most important sources of information on anarchist & anti-authoritarian history are the works of Max Nettlau, in particular his Die Geschichte Des Anarchismus (The History of Anarchism). He accumulated a huge collection of anarchist material which is gathered together in the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam.

Born in Neuwaldegg, Austria 1865, died in Amsterdam 1944; anarchist historian, collector & scholar; studied philology & Celtic (dissertation 'Beiträge zur cymrischen Grammatik', 1887); lived partly in Vienna, partly in London & travelled all over Europe to collect & to save historical documents on anarchism & socialism & for his studies; member of the Socialist League 1885-1890, active in the Torch & Freedom group; wrote historical works on anarchism with invaluable information and theoretical studies; printed by autocopyist his biography of Mikhail Bakunin, 3 vols. 1896-1900, & published 'Bibliographie de l'anarchie' 1897; lost during the inflation, after the First World War, the money he had inherited, & lived in poverty in Vienna; continued to collect & to publish e.g. biographies of Errico Malatesta & Elisée Reclus, & a history of anarchism in 7 vols.; sold his immense collection (books, periodicals, archives, documents) to the International Institute of Social History (IISH) in 1935 & lived in Amsterdam after the 'Anschluss'.



April 30, 1865: Max Heinrich Hermann Reinhardt Nettlau is born in Neuwaldegg, a suburb of Vienna.

Autumn 1882: Began his study of philology in Berlin.

October 1885: Went to London to work on his doctoral dissertation & immediately joined the Socialist League.

Late 1880's: Began to collect anarchist materials.

Max Nettlau

Early 1887: Finished his dissertation: Studies on the Cymric Grammar, & the first section was published.

Spring 1888: Published his first political & historical articles in The Commonweal, a Socialist League publication. His first article commemorated the fifth anniversary of the death of Karl Marx.

July 1889: Attends the Founding Congress of the Second International (International Socialist Congress) in Paris as a delegate of the Norwich branch of the Socialist League.

May 1890: Elected a member of the Socialist League Council (resigns in September to return to Vienna).

May/August 1890: Edited & financed The Anarchist Labour Leaf.

January 25/May 17, 1890: "Joseph Dejacque -- predecessor of communist Anarchism" is published in Freiheit.

April 19/May 17 1890: "The Historical Development of Anarchism" is published in Freiheit.

January/April 1891: "Notes for a Biography of Bakunin" is published in Freiheit.

May 1891: "Communism & Anarchy" was published in Freedom.

March 6, 1892: His father, Heinrich, dies & he finds that his father has left the family a great deal of money. Thus he no longer needed to pursue a career in academia to support himself.

February 28, 1895: His only brother, Ernst, died. This made him the only owner of his father's estate. He was then able to spend more money on collecting anarchist materials.

April/May 1895: Joined the Freedom Group & helped fund the Torch for Freedom.

1896-1900: Wrote his biography of Mikhail Bakunin .

1896-1914 & 1919/20-death: Contributed articles regularly to Freedom.

Spring 1897: Bibliographie de l'Anarchie is published.

December 5, 1899: Reads "Responsibility & Solidarity in the Labour Struggle" to the Freedom Discussion Group. This would become one of his favorite works.

February, 1909: Writes "Panarchy: A Forgotten Idea of 1860". This article was signed M.N. & dated 22.2.1909. It was first published in Gustav Landauer's "Der Sozialist", 15.3.1909. Upon a suggestion by Leo Kasarnowski, the later publisher of John Henry Mackay, who identified M.N. as Max Nettlau, it was reprinted in Der individualistische Anarchist (The Individualist Anarchist), published by Benedikt Lachman, in Berlin, 1920, pages 410-417. Translated by John Zube from the German reproduction in "Zur Sache", No 9, 1985 by the Mackay Gesellschaft, Germany, editor: Kurt Zube, 1905 -1991.

1911-death: Contributed to the Archiv für di Geshichte des Sozialismus der Arbeiterbewegung.

1928-1936: Invited to Spain by the Montseny-Urales (Federica Montseny) family to use their extensive libraries.

1935: Sold his collection of anarchist materials to the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam.

1938: Moved to Amsterdam.

1940: Began to write the last version of his memoirs. They totaled 6,000 pages & were never completed.

July 23, 1944: Died suddenly in Amsterdam of cancer of the stomach.

Page created December 2002; minor edits/updates April 2006

Use your back button to return to your previous page

Or visit

The Anarchist Encyclopedia | Daily Bleed Calendar | The Stan Iverson Archives | The Anarchist Timeline

anti-CopyRite 1997-3000, more or less

Questions, suggestions, additions, corrections to David Brown at

The Anarchist Encyclopedia is freely sponsored & produced by Recollection Used Books

Cat Has Had the Time of His LifeRecollection Used Books Logo