bookshelves: spring-2014, fradio, nonfiction, published-2014, women, victoriana, biography, politics
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from May 02 to 09, 2014
Listen here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b042j8y1
Description: Rachel Holmes’s new book is the lively, engaging and informative life story of the daughter of Karl Marx. Beginning with Eleanor’s upbringing in a happy and creative household – where she enjoyed the company of her parent’s friends including Engels – and moving on to tell of her achievements as a feminist, and activist and also her troubled love life.
Her achievements are remarkable, she was instrumental in preserving her father’s memory by sorting through his letters and laying the foundations for his biography. She was a pioneering feminist who made as profound a contribution to British political thought as Mary Wollstonecraft.
Her personal life was turned upside down by a family secret and a lover. She adored the socialist campaigner and would be playwright Edward Aveling, but he was a cheat and and broke her heart in a series of humiliations.
Episode 1: Beginning with Eleanor’s upbringing in a happy and creative household where she enjoyed the company of her parent’s friends including Engels.
Episode 2: It is 1871 and the Paris Commune is underway. Eleanor and her sisters are caught up in the bloody events. Later, a bid for independent living is hampered by the strictures and social mores of the day.
The Paris Commune was a revolutionary and socialist government that briefly ruled Paris from 18 March until 28 May 1871.
Elizabeth Garrett Anderson: the first Englishwoman to qualify as a physician and surgeon in Britain, the co-founder of the first hospital staffed by women, the first dean of a British medical school, the first female M.D. in France, the first woman in Britain to be elected to a school board and, as Mayor of Aldeburgh, the first female mayor and magistrate in Britain.
Episode 3: Today, it is the 1880s and Eleanor falls in love and makes a difficult choice.
Episode 4: Eleanor’s campaigns for equality are making inroads. Later, an unexpected revelation turns her world upside down and leaves her profoundly shaken.
Episode 5: The poignant conclusion finds Eleanor betrayed and humiliated by the man she loves.
Rachel Holmes is the author of The Secret Life of Dr James Barry and The Hottentot Venus: The Life and Death of Saartjie Baartman. She is the co-editor, with Lisa Appignanesi and Susie Orbach, of Fifty Shades of Feminism.
Read by Tracy-Ann Oberman who is perhaps best known for playing Chrissie Watts in Eastenders for two years. Radio 4 audiences have regularly enjoyed her performances in comedy and drama, and more recently she has written dramas for the network.
Abridged by Julian Wilkinson.
Produced by Elizabeth Allard.
Eleanor with sisters Laura and Jenny, her father, Karl Marx his friend, Friedrich Engels.
The Reading Room at the British Museum where Eleanor and her Bloomsbury friends worked.
Eleanor concluded her speech with Shelley’s invocation “Ye are many – they are few”.