Lisa Jardine at The Financial Times:
Eleanor Marx joked that she had inherited her father’s nose but not his genius and, if she anticipated that it was her fate to be overshadowed by the author of Das Kapital, then she could only be proved correct. Yet contemporaries who knew her work as an activist, writer and translator would have protested nonetheless at the injustice. Now, in Rachel Holmes’ fine biography, we have all the evidence we need to revise this modest self-assessment.
Eleanor was born on January 16 1855 in a two-room garret in Dean Street, London, the sixth child of Karl Marx and Jenny von Westphalen. Only two of her siblings survived into adulthood – her sisters Jenny and Laura, 11 and 10 years older than her, respectively. The eldest son, Edgar, died of tuberculosis 12 weeks after Eleanor’s birth and from that point her father seems to have invested all his hopes and affection in the family’s most recent arrival. He and Eleanor would be soulmates until his death in 1883.