Cad Whose Cruelty Killed Karl Marx's Daughter; Eleanor Marx's Intellect Was as Dazzling as Her Beauty. but Then the Trailblazing Feminist Fell Foul of a Callous Charmer; BOOK OF THE WEEK

Daily Mail (London), May 9, 2014 | Go to article overview

Cad Whose Cruelty Killed Karl Marx's Daughter; Eleanor Marx's Intellect Was as Dazzling as Her Beauty. but Then the Trailblazing Feminist Fell Foul of a Callous Charmer; BOOK OF THE WEEK


Byline: BEL MOONEY

ELEANOR MARX -- A LIFE

by Rachel Holmes (Bloomsbury PS25 PS20)

SHE WAS the apple of her father Karl's eye, a child so bright that at the age of eight she was writing to an uncle like this: 'Although I have never seen you I have heard so much about you that I almost fancy I know you ... I wish you a very happy new year, and daresay you are as glad to get rid of the old one as I am.'

Eleanor Marx drank in political awareness with mother Jenny's milk; no wonder she continued that precocious letter with an improbably un-childlike question: 'How do you think Poland is getting on? I always hold a finger up for the Poles, those brave little fellows.'

This trilingual prodigy was to become a revolutionary writer in her own right, a trailblazing feminist, a lover of literature and a tireless activist on behalf of the poor, and oppressed all over the world.

Her life was extraordinary, yet its failures and heartbreaks all too ordinary. She believed in the best yet suffered the worst.

To read this gripping new biography of Eleanor Marx (nicknamed Tussy by all who loved her) is to realise how misguided it would be for anyone to view her as merely 'the daughter of' anybody.

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (whom she thought of as her second father) may have shaped her brain, yet her spirit was all her own.

She arrived in the world on the snowy dawn of January 16, 1855 -- her mother Jenny enduring her sixth home delivery in a cramped and scruffy room in Soho. Of those six children only three daughters were to survive; a son and a daughter had already died and the surviving son Edgar was soon to follow them.

So Karl Marx, who had wanted another son, poured all his energies and expectations into this baby daughter -- valuing her intellect and expanding her imagination with his stories and games.

FOR all his faults, Marx was clearly a wonderful father. True, he made a dogsbody-secretary of his home-educated daughter, but he also inspired her and stretched her mind.

Eleanor was born into struggle and debate. She inhaled socialism with the smoke from her father's endless cigars. This odd household (just how unconventional we learn at the end of the book: Marx secretly fathered a son with their housekeeper) lacked food, clothes and comfort, but was always well-supplied with books, paper, pen and ink.

And conversation. Tussy adored her mother and their housekeeper, Helen Demuth, and looked up to her older sisters, Jennychen and Laura. Both those women were to marry impecunious Frenchmen and see any intellectual ambition ground down by exhausting domesticity, but their baby sister wanted more from life.

What she most desired was to change the world. Rachel Holmes is an energetically partisan biographer who believes she did. The evidence is hard to argue with. Eleanor threw herself body and soul into the fight for equality and believed that no just society could emerge from the horrors of industrialisation unless men and women fought shoulder to shoulder, with equal rights.

On May Day, 1889, in Hyde Park, this indomitable young woman (34 at the time) addressed a crowd of more than 100,000 people in support of the docks strike and told them: 'Socialists believe that the eight hours' day is the first and most immediate step to be taken, and we aim at a time when there will no longer be one class supporting two others, but the unemployed both at the top and at the bottom of society will be got rid of.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Cad Whose Cruelty Killed Karl Marx's Daughter; Eleanor Marx's Intellect Was as Dazzling as Her Beauty. but Then the Trailblazing Feminist Fell Foul of a Callous Charmer; BOOK OF THE WEEK
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.