Tired of London, Tired of Life - A website about things to do in London

4 March 2010

Visit the Marx Memorial Library

We saw last week what a hotbed of communism Clerkenwell has been through the ages, and the Marx Memorial Library is another example. Located at 37a Clerkenwell Green, it is home to a huge archive of books , documents and pamphlets, amounting to around 40,000 volumes covering leftist subjects like Marx, Engels, Lenin, the History of Socialism and the British Labour Movement.

Opened in 1933, the 50th anniversary of Marx's death, the building has a history of radicalism and has hosted a range of radical organisations, including the British Social Democratic Federation, which brought Lenin there to use the publishing operation. Lenin's office, used when he was in exile in London in 1902-3, has been preserved for modern visitors.

Guided tours are available Monday - Thursday, at 1–2pm only (or by appointment) and there are regular talks and lectures, such as an upcoming talk and book signing with MP Chris Mullin. For more on all these sorts of things see http://www.marx-memorial-library.org/

^Picture from Wikipedia under Wikimedia Commons^


  1. The Webb Memorial Trust bought a large Victorian country house near Dorking, straight after WW2, and called it the Beatrice Webb House. I thought it was a terrific place, especially since they were discussing social policy there.

    But the Marx Memorial Library, which I presume has had a similarly illustrious career, is not known as well (to me, at least). Which is funny for an Old Lefty from the 1960s.

    Ok.. adding Islington on my Things To Do list for the next trip.

  2. You definitely should Hels. Even if you feel like giving politics a rest, the area has some of London's best pubs and restaurants.

  3. Some years ago the memorial library sold really nicely designed china mugs with the inscription quotation: "Philosophers have only interpreted the world - the point is to change it." Sadly when I tried to buy some more I was told that they had sold out. They asked if I was interested in funding another batch at the cost of £1,000. Sadly, although I was earning then, I had a family to support, so no chance. I see now that they have some really awful chunky outrages instead. If Gordon would give pensioners a similar rise as he has to MPs, I would gladly fund another run of those mugs. But fat chance!

  4. Something about the Marx Memorial Library looking for a rich benefactor to fund a new print run of philosophy slogan mugs amuses me.

    Good slogan though...