2011 National Book Award Finalist,

Mary Gabriel

Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution

Little, Brown and Company

Mary Gabriel


Love and Capital reveals the rarely glimpsed and heartbreakingly human side of the man whose works would redefine the world after his death, as well as a vivid account of the woman who gave him the strength to follow his dangerous course. Karl Marx was a student without wealth or certain future when Jenny von Westphalen, the captivating daughter of a Prussian baron, fell in love with him. Together they would journey through Europe, on the run from governments and shadowy foes increasingly alarmed by Marx’s revolutionary ideas. Through decades of desperate struggle, Jenny’s love for Karl would be tested again and again as she waited for him to finish his masterpiece, Capital.


Mary Gabriel worked in Washington and London as a Reuters editor for nearly 20 years. She is the author of two previous biographies, Notorious Victoria (1998) and The Art of Acquiring (2002). She lives in Italy.

Author photo by Mike Habermann


From LOVE AND CAPITAL: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution,
By Mary Gabriel
Reprinted courtesy of Little, Brown and Company

In 1849 the two-day journey across the Channel from France to England was difficult for the heartiest souls, but for Jenny it took all the strength she could muster to survive it. She was thirty-five, more than seven months pregnant, and had been on the move since May, when the family had been forced out of Cologne. Drenched, cold, weakened by seasickness, and exhausted from caring for the children (who were equally wet, cold, and sick), she finally traveled up the Thames by steamer in the expectation that she would soon join her husband. Marx, however, was not at the dock when they arrived. Laid up with what he described as a choleralike illness, he instead sent his poet friend Georg Weerth to retrieve his family. Thus it was Weerth who introduced Jenny, Lenchen, and the children to their new and strangely forbidding home, conducting them by hackney coach through the fog to a boardinghouse run by a German tailor in Leicester Square, in the heart of London’s West End. She was instructed to remain there until her husband was fit enough to find permanent lodgings. Marx, meanwhile, was staying in tony Grosvenor Square with Karl Blind, a German friend who had married into money.

It is not difficult to imagine Jenny’s utter desolation as she sat in their small room, with its inadequate coal fire, pondering the future. Once again she had been wrenched from Paris — luminous, opulent, and gay — and dropped into a city she did not know and whose language she barely understood. But this transition was more difficult than the others, because her family was larger, because they had even less money and fewer prospects, and because London was the terminus at the edge of Europe for thousands of desperate travelers like them. Queen Victoria’s England had become a virtual repository for banished monarchs, rogues, and rebels, offering the illusion of liberty to victims of revolt or repression. One Italian visitor gaily wrote: “From the despotic ruler of fifty millions to the starving organ grinder and broom girl the land of refuge is open equally to them all.” But English reformer George Julian Harney more accurately described what such liberty meant for most exiles: they were “free to land upon our shores and free to perish of hunger beneath our inclement skies.”