Yvonne Kapp’s monumental biography of the daughter of Karl Marx who became a radical activist
Eleanor Marx is one of the most tragically overlooked feminist intellectuals in history, usually overshadowed by her father, Karl Marx. But not only did she edit, translate, transcribe and collaborate with her father, she also spent her extraordinary life putting his ideas into practice as a labour organizer, feminist radical, and Marxist theorist.
The outstanding exception to the omission of Eleanor Marx from history is Yvonne Kapp’s highly acclaimed biography. First published at the height of feminist organizing in the 1970s, Kapp’s work brilliantly succeeds in capturing Eleanor’s spirit, from a lively child opining on the world’s affairs, to the new woman, aspiring to the stage, earning her living as a free intellectual, and helping to lead England’s unskilled workers at the height of the new unionism; being always more than, yet at the same time inescapably, Karl Marx’s daughter. It is also, inevitably, an unrivalled biography of the Marx household in Victorian London, of the Marx circle, and of Friedrich Engels, the family’s extraordinary mentor.
During today’s resurgence of feminist writing, organizing, and protesting, Kapp’s foundational single-volume biography serves as a crucial corrective to a narrative that puts feminists and marxists on opposing sides of radical history.