Jenny Marx Longuet (left) and her sister, Jenny Laura Marx
Jenny Caroline Marx
1 May 1844
|Died||11 January 1883 (aged 38)|
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.
Jenny Caroline Marx, known to family and close friends as "Jennychen" to distinguish her from her mother, was born in Paris on 1 May 1844, the oldest daughter of Karl Marx and Jenny von Westphalen Marx. She was a fragile child but was nevertheless the first of the Marx children to survive childhood.
In 1868, at the age of 24, she accepted a position as a French language teacher in order to help her parents financially. 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.
She met her future husband, the French journalist and radical political activist Charles Longuet in 1871. The pair became engaged in March 1872 and were married on October 10 of that same year, she taking the name Jenny Longuet.
As was the case with her parents, the young couple were economically strapped in their earliest years. Hoping that Charles could find work as a teacher, the pair moved to Oxford after their marriage, but he was unable to do so. Jenny scraped together a meagre income for the pair working as a private tutor, giving lessons in French, German, and singing.
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. The minimal salary she earned at the school she supplemented by giving private lessons. Her husband obtained a position teaching French at King's College, together making enough to maintain a small house in London.
Owing to a lack of birth control in the era, Jenny Longuet was pregnant in almost every year of her married, adult life. She gave birth to a first son in September 1873, but the child died the following summer of diarrhea. A second son, Jean Laurent Frederick "Johnny" Longuet (1876-1938) fared better, surviving to eventually become a leader of the Socialist Party of France.
A third son, born in 1878, mentally challenged and sickly, died at the age of 5, 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.
Return to France
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. 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.
In February 1881 Jenny and the boys, moved to France to join her husband. 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.
Despite her ill health, Jenny delivered another son, Marcel Longuet (1881-1949), who ultimately was, unlike the rest of the family, apolitical in adulthood. A final child, a daughter also named Jenny Longuet, was born in September 1882, lived until 1952.
Death and legacy
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.
|Ancestors of Jenny Longuet|
- Saul K. Padover, Karl Marx: An Intimate Biography. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1978; pg. 474.
- "Jenny Marx Longuet (Jennychen)," Karl Marx Family Biography, Marxists Internet Archive, www.marxists.org/
- Padover, Karl Marx, pg. 476.
- Padover, Karl Marx, pp. 476-477.
- Padover, Karl Marx, pg. 477.
- Padover, Karl Marx, pp. 477-478.
- Padover, Karl Marx, pg. 478.
- Padover, Karl Marx, pg. 479.
- Padover, Karl Marx, pg. 480.
- Padover, Karl Marx, pg. 481.
- Padover, Karl Marx, pg. 482.
- Padover, Karl Marx, pg. 484.
- Padover, Karl Marx, pg. 485.
- Francis Wheen. Karl Marx: A Life. London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1999; pp. 379-380.