Karl Marx – perhaps the most famous influence on left wing politics. But would he have been so well known had his work not been carefully collated and published with the aid of his daughter Eleanor (Tussy) Marx?
Eleanor, herself, was a considerable influence in the developement of socialism at the end of the 19th century. She fell in love with one of the organisers of the first socialist government – the Paris Commune – and had to flee France when it collapsed.
She played major roles in trade union and women’s rights campaigns culminating in the infamous Bryant & May matchworkers strike.
Eleanor was a good friend of textile designer and fellow socialist William Morris whose Red House in Bexleyheath was the centre of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
However, like many female emancipators, Eleanor was unlucky with men. She lived in Jews Walk with Edward Aveling. He was an actor, fellow socialist and a philanderer. It is believed that a letter to Eleanor confirming his marriage to a younger woman led to her poisoning with prussic acid at 7 Jews Walk.
Was it suicide or was Aveling involved? We will perhaps never know. Coincidentally it was a doctor from another Blue Plaque house around the corner that pronounced Eleanor dead. That was her GP Dr Henry Shackleton, father of Sir Ernest Shackleton who left Sydenham for the sea and Antarctica.
More about Eleanor here: «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleanor_Marx»
More about Blue plaques here: «http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/server/show/nav.1495»
The ceremony was organised by the Sydenham Society on behalf of English Heritage. Jim Dowd MP unveiled the Plaque.