Jenny von Westphalen

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Freiin Johanna Bertha Julie Jenny von Westphalen
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Freiin Johanna Bertha Julie Jenny von Westphalen (12 February 1814 – 2 December 1881) was the wife of the philosopher Karl Marx.

They became engaged in 1836 and married in 1843. They had seven children.

Home town Trier

Spouse Karl Marx


Jenny Longuet
Laura Marx
Charles Louis Henri Edgar
Henry Edward Guy
Jenny Eveline Frances
Eleanor Marx


  • Ludwig von Westphalen (father)
  • Amalia Julia Carolina Heubel (mother)


Jenny von Westphalen was born in Salzwedel to a prominent family of the Prussian aristocracy. Her father, Ludwig von Westphalen (1770–1842), was a former widower with four previous children, who served as "Regierungsrat" in Salzwedel and in Trier. Her paternal grandfather "Edler" Christian Philip Heinrich von Westphalen (1723–1792) had been de facto "chief of staff" to Duke Ferdinand of Brunswickduring the Seven Years' War. Her paternal grandmother, Jeanie Wishart (1742–1811), was a Scottish noble: her father George Wishart (1703–1785) was a direct descendent of the 9th Earl of Angus, while her mother's family were the Dukes of Argyll, for centuries Scotland's most powerful aristocratic family. Her mother, Amalia Julia Carolina von Westphalen (née Heubel), lived from 1780 to 1856.

Jenny von Westphalen's brother Edgar von Westphalen (1819–1890), was a schoolmate and friend of Karl Marx. Another brother, Ferdinand Otto Wilhelm Henning von Westphalen, was the conservative Interior Minister of Prussia, 1850–58. Although he was one of the leading conservative forces in 19th century Prussia, Ferdinand would remain on amiable terms with Karl and Jenny Marx.


Jenny von Westphalen and Karl Heinrich Marx regularly met each other as children. She was four years older than Karl. They became close friends as teenagers. Both of them were well-read and literary, and they soon began courting. According to Marx, she was the most beautiful girl in the town of Trier. Her father, Ludwig von Westphalen, a friend of Marx's father, also befriended the teenage Marx, and would often go on walks with him, where they would discuss philosophy and English literature. Jenny and Karl became engaged in 1836. They eventually married on 19 June 1843 in the Kreuznacher Pauluskirche (the Kreuznach church of Saint Paul), Bad Kreuznach.

Following their marriage, Karl and Jenny Marx moved to Rue Vaneau in Paris and befriended the German poet Heinrich Heine, who lived at Rue Matignon.

Children, Familie

Karl Marx (1818–1883),  friend Friedrich Engels (1820–1895), and Marx's daughters:  Jenny Caroline (1844–1883),  Jenny Julia Eleanor (1855–1898), Jenny Laura (1845–1911)  (photo)

Karl and Jenny Marx had the following seven children, in chronological order:

  1. Jenny Caroline (1 May 1844 – 11 January 1883). Married Charles Longuet in 1872. She was a socialist activist. She wrote for the socialist press in France in the 1860s, most importantly in exposing British treatment of Fenian revolutionaries in Ireland. She died of bladder cancer, aged 38.
  2. Jenny Laura (26 September 1845 – 26 November 1911), born in Brussels, Belgium. Married Paul Lafargue in 1868. She was a socialist activist. Laura and her husband did decades of political work together, translating Marx's work into French, and spreading Marxism in France and Spain. She died in a suicide pact with her husband. She was 66.
  3. Charles Louis Henri Edgar (3 February 1847 in Brussels – 6 May 1855), "Mush" to family and friends, named for his uncle Edgar, the brother of Jenny von Westphalen. He died, aged 8.
  4. Henry Edward Guy ("Guido"; Henry Edward Guy 5 September 1849, born at London; died 19 November 1850, London, England).
  5. Jenny Eveline Frances ("Franziska"; 28 March 1851 – 14 April 1852)
  6. Jenny Julia Eleanor (16 January 1855 – 31 March 1898), born in London. She was a socialist activist. She committed suicide at the age of 43 by poisoning herself with prussic acid, after discovering that her long term partner, Edward Aveling, had secretly married a young actress named Eva Frye in June 1897.
  7. An unnamed child, born and died 6 July 1857 in London.


In 1844, Jenny traveled alone with her baby, "Jennychen", to visit her mother. In 1845, the French political police expelled Karl Marx and the pregnant Jenny: thus the birth of Laura took place in Brussels.

In 1848 the Brussels police detained Jenny and served an anti-immigrant deportation order. The Marxes returned to Paris and then moved to Cologne.

Revolutionary upsurges took place in many European countries in 1848, including the German states. The Prussian authorities had Karl Marx deported to France. He then left with his family for London in England.

Around 1849–1850 the Marxes lived at Dean Street in London. In 1856 the Marxes moved to Grafton Terrace, near Hampstead Hillin London, thanks to the money given to Jenny by her mother when she died (1856). 9 Grafton Terrace, then at the outskirts of "civilized" London, had a small garden and two floors with seven rooms, including the kitchen. Jenny wrote: "we are walking now steadfast to become bourgeois". Philosopher Leszek Kołakowski would write of the Marx family's time in London, "[Karl] Marx was notoriously incapable of keeping accounts, and Jenny was a regular customer of the London pawnbrokers."


In later years Jenny Marx suffered from internal pains, diagnosed as liver cancer. Following a family visit to France, she died in London at the age of 67 on 2 December 1881. She was buried in Highgate Cemetery, London, as was Karl Marx. In 1954, her remains were transferred, along with those of her husband and other family members, to a new grave, over which was constructed a memorial.


  • Short Sketch of an Eventful Life (1865–1866)
  • Aus der Londoner Theaterwelt. In: Frankfurter Zeitung und Handelsblatt, Frankfurt am Main, No. 328, 21 November 1875
  • Londoner Saison. In: Frankfurter Zeitung und Handelsblatt, Frankfurt am Main, No. 95, 4 April 1876
  • Englische Shakespeare-Studien. In: Frankfurter Zeitung und Handelsblatt, Frankfurt am Main, No. 3, 3 January 1877
  • Shakespeares "Richard III" im Londoner Lyceum-Theater. In: Frankfurter Zeitung und Handelsblatt, Frankfurt am Main, No. 39, 8 February 1877
  • Vom Londoner Theater. In: Frankfurter Zeitung und Handelsblatt, Frankfurt am Main, No. 145, 25 May 1877
  • Die hervorragendesten Persönlichkeiten der englischen Salonwelt. In: Der Sprudel. Allgemeines deutsches Bade-Journal, Wien, IX. Jg., No. 3, 18 May 1879
  • Irving at home. In: Der Sprudel. Allgemeines deutsches Bade-Journal, Wien, IX. Jg., No. 7, 23 June 1879


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        Relation nameRelation typeBirth DateDeath dateDescription
        Ludwig von WestphalenFather11.07.177003.03.1842
        2Laura MarxLaura MarxDaughter26.09.184526.11.1911
        3Edgar von WestphalenEdgar von WestphalenBrother26.03.181930.09.1890
        4Karl MarxKarl MarxHusband05.05.181814.03.1883
        5Paul LafarguePaul LafargueSon in-law15.01.184226.11.1911
        Christian Philip Heinrich von WestphalenGrandfather

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