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The Marx Memorial Library: Exploring the History of Marxism in London

As an avid reader of politics and history, we believe visiting the Marx Memorial Library in London should be on your list of must-see destinations. The library is dedicated to studying and preserving the works of Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx, two of the most influential philosophers of the 19th century.

We visited the Marx Memorial Library in March 2018. We learned about this special place after we went to the Islington Museum looking for the only statue of Lenin in London. We asked a few questions about Lenin in the museum and were advised to visit the Memorial Library; we are so thankful for that.

Now, here’s everything you need to know before you go.

The Marx Memorial Library & Workers’ School is a unique institution founded in 1933 to advance education, knowledge, and learning in Marxism, socialism, and the working-class movement. It was founded as a response to the book burnings in Germany during the rise of fascism.

For over 80 years, the library has been at the heart of the British Labour Movement, with a vast collection of published and archival sources related to trade unionism, peace, solidarity movements, and the Spanish Civil War; this part of the library is filled with information about the English people that went to Spain to fight, their flags and their history.

Located in Clerkenwell, London, the library’s education program includes online and onsite courses, covering topics ranging from Marxist political economy to socialist art. The library is a historic building steeped in Clerkenwell’s radical tradition. Members and affiliates finance its charitable work.

Whether you’re a scholar, a history enthusiast as we are, or simply curious about Marxism and socialism, the Marx Memorial Library & Workers’ School offers a wealth of resources and opportunities to learn and engage with these important subjects.

short MML film3 from Christopher Reeves on Vimeo.

What is the Marx Memorial Library?

The Marx Memorial Library is a research and educational center in Clerkenwell, London. It was founded in 1933 as a tribute to Karl Marx, the German philosopher best known for his Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital. The library contains over forty thousand books, pamphlets, and archives of political papers and documents from the British labor movement.

The library also houses a large collection of Marxist literature from around the world, including posters. We saw parts of the pack and found some from the 1960s in Brazil, which was quite interesting since this is where we come from.

What can you expect to see at the Marx Memorial Library?

The library has several rooms dedicated to different aspects of Marxism. The reading room is the main area where visitors can browse through the library’s collection of books and pamphlets.

The library also has a reference room to access the archives and special collections. The building itself is a Grade II listed building, and visitors can explore the library’s history through the displays of photographs and documents.

We mainly visited the Marx Memorial Library because this is where Lenin worked while exiled in London between 1902-03. During those years, he published seventeen issues of his newspaper Iskra from there. His office is preserved as a memorial to him even though the room didn’t exist at the time Lenin worked there.

According to the tour guide that led us through the library, there is evidence that Lenin worked in an earlier version of the office in the same place. But, for us, this is just a small detail. The important thing for us was to visit this place and see a sign hanging with the sentence “Lenin – Founder of the USSR, the first Socialist State” and think we are walking in the same place as he did.

Together with the Lenin room, another interesting feature of the library is the Marx Room, which is decorated with original furnishings from Marx’s study in London. The room also displays rare books and manuscripts from the library’s collection.

Visiting the Marx Memorial Library

The library is open to the public from Monday to Friday. Admission is free, although the library encourages donations to help support its work. Visitors are welcome to browse the library’s collections, but they must request books and materials from the staff.

You can book tours to the Marx Memorial Library and explore this beautiful place in London.

What kind of events does the Marx Memorial Library host?

The library hosts regular events and lectures on Marxism and related topics. These events are open to the public and are a great way to learn more about the library’s collections and the history of Marxism. The library also offers study courses on Marxism and socialism, which are open to anyone interested in learning more about these subjects.

The Marx Memorial Library is a fascinating destination for anyone interested in the history of Marxism and socialism. The library’s collection of books, manuscripts, and archives is a treasure trove for researchers and scholars. But even if you’re not an academic, the library is still worth a visit.

The Marx Room, with its original furnishings, is a unique glimpse into the life of Karl Marx, and the library’s events and lectures offer opportunities to learn more about this important political movement.

So why not plan a visit to the Marx Memorial Library and explore the history of Marxism for yourself?

The Marx Memorial Library is easy to find on the map below. The nearest tube stations are Farringdon and Angel. The library is also easily accessible by bus.

The Marx Memorial Library: Exploring the History of Marxism in London

7A Clerkenwell Green, London, EC1R 0DU

Felipe Tofani

Felipe Tofani

Felipe Tofani is a passionate designer with a penchant for crafting unique experiences and a mixed taste in music. As the curator behind this blog's explorations, he takes pride in discovering fascinating destinations. Whether unearthing hidden gems or sharing captivating historical narratives, Felipe is the creative force driving the stories you find here. Join him on a journey of design, discovery, and the delightful rhythm of unconventional tunes.View Author posts