Eleanor Marx: A Life

Eleanor Marx: A Life

Rachel Holmes

Language: English

Pages: 528

ISBN: 1408852896

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Unrestrained by convention, lion-hearted and free, Eleanor Marx (1855-98) was an exceptional woman. Hers was the first English translation of Flaubert's Mme Bovary. She pioneered the theatre of Henrik Ibsen. She was the first woman to lead the British dock workers' and gas workers' trades unions. For years she worked tirelessly for her father, Karl Marx, as personal secretary and researcher. Later she edited many of his key political works, and laid the foundations for his biography. But foremost among her achievements was her pioneering feminism. For her, sexual equality was a necessary precondition for a just society.

Drawing strength from her family and their wide circle, including Friedrich Engels and Wilhelm Liebknecht, Eleanor Marx set out into the world to make a difference--her favorite motto: "Go ahead!" With her closest friends--among them, Olive Schreiner, Havelock Ellis, George Bernard Shaw, Will Thorne, and William Morris--she was at the epicenter of British socialism. She was also the only Marx to claim her Jewishness. But her life contained a deep sadness: she loved a faithless and dishonest man, the academic, actor, and would-be playwright Edward Aveling. Yet despite the unhappiness he brought her, Eleanor Marx never wavered in her political life, ceaselessly campaigning and organizing until her untimely end, which--with its letters, legacies, secrets, and hidden paternity--reads in part like a novel by Wilkie Collins, and in part like the modern tragedy it was.

Rachel Holmes has gone back to original sources to tell the story of the woman who did more than any other to transform British politics in the nineteenth century, who was unafraid to live her contradictions.

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place Eleanor as Marx’s official literary executor. Eleanor misjudged Engels over the Freebooters fiasco. He was hurt by her lack of confidence in him but there’s sufficient evidence to demonstrate that he also recognised his own lack of judgement in indulging Louise and Ludwig so unguardedly. Engels may also have felt that he was protecting Tussy from further exploitation by her own adventurer. Publicly, the General remained benign about Aveling but he was no fool – Tussy might love where she

followed by recuperation at the seaside. He asked Tussy if she and Edward would join him there for a week or so and told her that he’d also written to Laura and Paul inviting them to come and see him. For once, the Lafargues promptly agreed to come to England. As matters transpired, the trip to Eastbourne didn’t happen until the end of June. Tussy and the General shared eggnog and oysters and discussed Edward’s nomination as a parliamentary candidate by the Independent Labour Party. The

as the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.’ Proverbs 30:33, King James Bible. 4  Engels ended up writing the piece, as he did most of the others on Crimea published under Marx’s name between 1851 and 1855. The leader for 22 January, 1855, a week after Eleanor’s birth, was entitled ‘British Disaster in the Crimea’ and later published as part of The Eastern Question, edited by EM, S. Sonnenschein

detested clan of Campbell.11 Marx passed on his love and admiration of Scott, Balzac and Fielding to Eleanor. It was an intense home-schooling of the most entertaining form, with her father a subtle educator: And while he talked about these and many other books he would, all unconscious though she was of it, show his little girl where to look for all that was finest and best in the works, teach her – though she never thought she was being taught, to that she would have objected – to try and

unbounded optimism of the little girl bold enough to be an undutiful daughter? The urgency of Tussy’s need to ‘strike out on a line of her own’, as Engels elegantly put it, is not just a question of finding an original voice and style for her potential theatrical career – it is the need to find a voice of independence on the bigger stage of life beyond the extended Marx family. ‘Strike’ is the perfect verb for soul-socialist Tussy; ‘a line of her own’ the exact description of her rights and

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