Celebrating Eleanor Marx at the Marx Memorial Library & Worker' School
On 3 September biographer, historian and activist, Rachel Holmes unveiled a plaque dedicated to Eleanor Marx at the Marx Memorial Library. It is accompanied by a permanent display commemorating Eleanor hung in pride of place by the Library's main entrance.
Eleanor Marx was a socialist, internationalist, feminist and trade unionist and a woman of letters. She has significant connections to the Marx Memorial Library. Not only did she speak at 37a Clerkenwell Green at meetings of the Social Democratic Federation, but her ashes were kept in the Library's Lenin Room for many years.
Meirian Jump, Archivist & Library Manager introduced the event explaining to a packed hall that a dedicated display for Eleanor was 'long-overdue' at the library; it was 'about time we paid our respects'. She described the MML's new programme of work with a focus on outreach and education.
Lauren England, Conservator and one of a large team of volunteers at the Library, introduced the conservation work she had done on a letter and poster on Eleanor Marx. A wide range of procedures including tear repair and washing were necessary to bring the fragile poster back to life ready for the new display.
She was followed by Rachel Holmes, author of 'Eleanor Marx: a Life' who underlined her significance as a trade union leader and her influence on the framing of the 'woman question'. Her impact is still felt today as she continues to inspire activists. Rachel finished with a reading of Shelley's 'The Masque of Anarchy':
Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you-
Ye are many - they are few."
Actor Penny Diamond read 'My Confession' scribed by Eleanor aged 10, signing off with her maxim 'Go ahead!'