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Karl Marx’s birthday, 5 May 1818. Sadly no anniversary tour today!

Today is the 202nd birthday of Karl Marx. Unfortunately our unique “Karl Marx’s Manchester” will have to wait awhile. Meanwhile, here are some wonderful descriptions of the great man, for your enjoyment.

A description of Marx given to Princess Victoria by Sir Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff, Liberal Under-sec of State for India. Duff met Marx in 1879.

“He is a short, rather small man with grey hair and beard which contrast strangely with a still dark moustache. The face is somewhat round, the forehead well shaped and filled up — the eye rather hard but the whole expression rather pleasant than not, by no means that of a gentleman who is in the habit of eating babies in their cradles — which is I daresay the view which the Police takes of him.

He looks, not unreasonably, for a great and not distant crash in Russia; thinks it will begin by reforms from above which the old bad edifice will not be able to bear and which will lead to its tumbling down altogether. As to what would take its place he had evidently no clear idea, except that for a long time Russia would be unable to exercise any influence in Europe.”


And from biographer Saul K. Padover:

“In private life he is a highly disorderly, cynical person, a poor host; he leads a gypsy existence. Washing, grooming, and changing underwear are rarities with him; he gets drunk readily. Often he loafs all day long, but if he has work to do, he works day and night tirelessly. He does not have a fixed time for sleeping and staying up; very often he stays up all night, and at noon he lies down on the sofa fully dressed and sleeps until evening, unconcerned about the comings and goings around him…”