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Robert Owen (14 May 1771 – 17 November 1858) was a Welsh social reformer and one of the founders of socialism and the cooperative movement.

Owen's philosophy was based on three intellectual pillars:

Robert Owen was born in Newtown, a small market town in Montgomeryshire, Mid Wales, in 1771. He was the sixth child of seven. His father had a small business as a saddler and ironmonger. Owen's mother came from one of the prosperous farming families. Here young Owen received almost all his school education, which ended at the age of ten. In 1787, after serving in a draper's shop for some years, he settled in London. He travelled to Manchester, and obtained employment at Satterfield's Drapery in St. Ann's Square (a plaque currently marks the site). By the time he was 21 he was a mill manager in Manchester at the Chorlton Twist Mills. His entrepreneurial spirit, management skill and progressive moral views were emerging by the early 1790s. In 1793, he was elected as a member of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, where the ideas of reformers and philosophers of the Enlightenment were discussed. He also became a committee member of the Manchester Board of Health which was set up to promote improvements in the health and working conditions of factory workers.

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