Jenny Longuet

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Jenny Longuet
Jenny laura marx.jpg
Jenny Marx Longuet (left) and her sister, Jenny Laura Marx
Born Jenny Caroline Marx
(1844-05-01)May 1, 1844
Died January 11, 1883(1883-01-11) (aged 38)
Occupation Language teacher
Spouse(s) Charles Longuet

Jenny Caroline "Jennychen" Marx Longuet (1 May 1844 – 11 January 1883) was the eldest daughter of Jenny von Westphalen Marx and Karl Marx. Briefly a political journalist writing under the pen name "J. Williams" in 1870, Longuet taught language classes and helped raise a family of five sons and a daughter before her death of cancer at the age of 38.


Early years[edit]

Charles and Jenny Longuet in the 1870s.

Jenny Caroline Marx, known to family and close friends as "Jennychen" to distinguish her from her mother, was born in London on 1 May 1844, the oldest daughter of Jenny von Westphalen Marx and Karl Marx. She was a fragile child but was nevertheless the first of the Marx children to survive childhood.[1]

In 1868, at the age of 24, Marx accepted a position as a French language teacher in order to help her parents financially.[1] She also contributed a number of articles to the socialist press, writing under the pen name "J. Williams" on the treatment of the Irish political prisoners by the English government in 1870.[2]

She met her future husband, the French journalist and radical political activist Charles Longuet in 1871.[3] The pair became engaged in March 1872 and were married on October 10 of that same year, she taking the name Jenny Longuet.[4]

As was the case with her parents, the young couple were economically strapped in their earliest years.[5] Hoping that Charles could find work as a teacher, the pair moved to Oxford after their marriage, but he was unable to do so.[5] Jenny scraped together a meagre income for the pair working as a private tutor, giving lessons in French, German, and singing.[5]

The couple's financial lives became more stable in 1874, when both Jenny and Charles found work as teachers, with Jenny holding a position as a German teacher at the Clement Dane School.[6] The minimal salary she earned at the school she supplemented by giving private lessons.[7] Her husband obtained a position teaching French at King's College, together making enough to maintain a small house in London.[7]

Owing to a lack of birth control in the era, Jenny Longuet was pregnant in almost every year of her married, adult life.[8] She gave birth to a first son in September 1873, but the child died the following summer of diarrhea.[8] A second son, Jean Laurent Frederick "Johnny" Longuet (1876-1938) fared better, surviving to eventually become a leader of the Socialist Party of France.[8]

A third son, born in 1878, mentally challenged and sickly, died at the age of 5,[8] while a fourth, Edgar "Wolf" Longuet (1879-1950) lived a full life, becoming a medical doctor as well as an activist in the French Socialist Party.[9]

Return to France[edit]

A political amnesty promulgated by the government of France in July 1880 allowed Charles Longuet the opportunity to return to his native country and he was quick to return, taking a position as an editor of La Justice, a radical daily newspaper founded by Georges Clemenceau.[10] By this time, however, Jenny had begun to suffer from cancer and she for a time remained in London with her three sons, so as to be near her aging parents.[10]

In February 1881 Jenny and the boys, moved to France to join her husband.[11] The family settled in the town of Argenteuil, where they were regularly visited by the boys' doting grandfather, himself but two years from the grave.[12]

Despite her ill health, Jenny delivered another son, Marcel Longuet (1881-1949), who ultimately was, unlike the rest of the family, apolitical in adulthood.[13] A final child, a daughter also named Jenny Longuet, was born in September 1882, she living until 1952.[13]

Death and legacy[edit]

Just four months after the birth of her daughter Jenny Longuet died at Argenteuil on 11 January 1883, at the age of 38, probably from cancer of the bladder, a condition which had afflicted her for some time.[14]


  1. ^ a b Saul K. Padover, Karl Marx: An Intimate Biography. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1978; pg. 474.
  2. ^ "Jenny Marx Longuet (Jennychen)," Karl Marx Family Biography, Marxists Internet Archive,
  3. ^ Padover, Karl Marx, pg. 476.
  4. ^ Padover, Karl Marx, pp. 476-477.
  5. ^ a b c Padover, Karl Marx, pg. 477.
  6. ^ Padover, Karl Marx, pp. 477-478.
  7. ^ a b Padover, Karl Marx, pg. 478.
  8. ^ a b c d Padover, Karl Marx, pg. 479.
  9. ^ Padover, Karl Marx, pg. 480.
  10. ^ a b Padover, Karl Marx, pg. 481.
  11. ^ Padover, Karl Marx, pg. 482.
  12. ^ Padover, Karl Marx, pg. 484.
  13. ^ a b Padover, Karl Marx, pg. 485.
  14. ^ Francis Wheen. Karl Marx: A Life. London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1999; pp. 379-380.

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