The History of 29 Sussex Square

Eleanor Marx

Now flats, this building once housed the school where political activist Eleanor Marx (1855 - 1898) worked as a French teacher in 1873. When her mother discovered that she was being visited here by her fiancée, Hyppolite Lissagaray, a French ex-Communard many years her senior of whom her parents disapproved, she was made to terminate her work and sent to Germany. Already keenly political after travelling to socialist congresses worldwide as her father Karl’s secretary,

Eleanor Marx
Eleanor Marx

Eleanor took up many left-leaning causes upon her return to London. She established the Women’s Branch of the National Union of Gasworkers and General Labourers, worked as an interpreter for the International Socialist Workers and for other European Socialist Congresses, and became a founder member of the Socialist League. After her father’s death in 1883, she managed the publication of the unfinished manuscripts of his Das Kapital, and also published widely herself. Linguistically talented, Eleanor became the first person to translate Flaubert’s Madame Bovary into English and, after learning Norwegian, translated various of Ibsen’s plays. After a life of industry, Eleanor came to a sad end; she committed suicide by taking prussic acid due, it was largely believed although not proven, to the infidelity of her long-term partner, Henry Aveling. She is buried alongside her family in Highgate Cemetery.

Vanessa Minns