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Eleanor Marx’s Lessons from History – Guernica

25/07/2014
Eleanor and Karl Marx, c. 1872.

Eleanor and Karl Marx, c. 1872.

“In 1888, Eleanor Marx wrote to her only surviving sibling, Laura, describing her efforts to organize the poor in London’s East End. She was haunted by the squalid scenes she encountered there, the degradation of the human spirit. In her early thirties and already a tireless activist, Eleanor was an organizer, speaker, and translator at conferences held by the international socialist movement and a founding member of Britain’s early social democratic parties. The suffering she witnessed in the East End spurred her to help forge a new movement of unskilled workers, one powerful enough to liberate the millions condemned to lives of wretchedness. As a key figure in New Unionism, she advocated the eight-hour day and rallied gas, chemical, and shop workers, dockers, and matchgirls in strikes that changed the industrial landscape of the country.”

Here’s a link to my article, prompted by Rachel Holmes’s new biography about the continuing relevance of Eleanor Marx’s life, work and ideas. It was published in Guernica on 25.7.2014 as The Individual Complexity of Eleanor Marx. The full interviews I conducted with historians, novelists, journalists and activists as research for this article are also published on Nothing Is Lost: they are with Zackie Achmat, Shami Chakrabarti, Paul Mason, Bee Rowlatt and Kamila Shamsie. There is also a long interview with Rachel Holmes, the author of a new biography about Eleanor Marx. 

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