1950s >> 1958

The Old Order Changeth

Readers, especially those overseas, may be interested to learn that the old Marx house, his last dwelling place, in London, is now being demolished.

41, Maitland Park, just inside the borders of the Borough of St Pancras in North West London, and practically on the edge of Hampstead, which was No. 1, Modena Villas, when Marx moved in, on the proceeds of his small legacy from his mother, is now part of a terrace of derelict property.

For years now, the famous room on the first floor, where the great thinker paced the carpet from one comer to the other like a caged lion, wearing a path through it, has been a dangerous structure.

Some of the best and greatest work was written in that room: The Civil War in France, the greater part of Capital, the Address of the International Working Men’s Association and the numerous critical and controversial monographs, Gotha Programme, Value, Price and Profit. (which though delivered verbally, was prepared there) and others.

The first house he moved to on leaving Dean Street, Soho, on medical advice, after the death of his son, Edgar, was No. 9, Grafton Terrace, just around the corner.

Here Marx and his numerous family suffered the most desperate privation. Here it was that he underwent the harrowing experiences which all the readers of his biographies know.

From this address came the frantic appeals for help because his children were dying, every piece of decent clothing was at the pawn shop, and butcher, baker, and candlestick-maker, were hammering on the door. Grafton Terrace, for the Marx household, was Heartbreak House.

Even after moving, things were not all that good, although some journalistic work did come from America. However, eventually Engels was able to retire from “filthy commerce” and move to 122. Regents Park Road, making his friend a regular provision and walking the short distance to see him every day. Engel’s old house in London is still occupied.

Those interested could take the opportunity now to visit the Marx house before it is finally carted away.

A No. 24 or 21 bus or Primrose Hill station from Euston will land them a few steps away, Engel’s old house is a few hundred yards distant.

In this contributor’s view, the great experts, in this case the St Pancras Council and London County Council, are making a grievous blunder. Preserved as a historic monument, Marx’s house could be a business proposition, increasing as the years go by.

On the other hand, Marx himself would have been the first to appreciate the inevitability of change.