The richest Jewel

A play in two acts. Running time approximately 100 minutes.

Genre: Drama

Set in 1898 it is based upon a true story.


4 female parts, 7 male parts

Eleanor Marx   – 40 years old. She is the daughter of Karl, his literary executor and guardian of his reputation. A darling of the socialist movement in big demand as a speaker.

Edward Aveling –  49. Socialist, atheist, author and complete rotter.

The General – 75. Friedrich  Engels is the original champagne socialist

Olive Schreiner – mid-30’s. Authoress and friend of Eleanor

Freddie Demuth  – mid-30’s Socialist & trade unionist

Eva Frye – 20s. Actress

Gerty Gentry – 60s Eleanor’s housekeeper of long standing

Will Thorne – 40. A British trade unionist and activist.

Six small parts that can be doubled up:

Romeo / P C Miller

Prompt / Coroner Wood

Waiter  / Doctor Shackleton 

Trade unionists, Mourners and public at Coroners court


According to Socrates, the richest jewel anyone has is their good name and it is her father’s good name that drives Eleanor. She is a true believer in his ideals and sees any detraction from his high moral character as damaging to them. The paradox is that she has already sacrificed her own reputation by living openly with Aveling for fourteen years.

The play catalogues Eleanor’s decline from celebrity speaker to a broken woman betrayed by her dead father, the death of her mentor – Engels – and the infidelity of Aveling.


Eleanor is at the top of her game. She is a celebrity socialist, in big demand as a speaker and as a supporter of workers rights. Supported by the wealth of Engels, she is her fathers literary executor and custodian of his reputation. Ever since her father’s death she has been living openly with fellow socialist Edward Aveling in defiance of societal norms.

In Eleanor’s mind their relationship has moved on from it’s lustful beginnings to one of a partnership of equals. Aveling, however, resents her success professionally and has long moved on socially, having numerous affairs. He is also perpetually short of money and is prone to “borrowing” from their friends and peers without repayment.

Engels and Eleanor’s friends, particularly Olive, are appalled by Aveling’s behaviour and urge caution upon her. Meanwhile Aveling is building his name as a theatrical producer under the pseudonym Alec Nelson.

Eleanor is torn between her love of Aveling and the advice of her friends. This, along with Engel’s failing health start to have a corrosive effect upon her confidence. The revelation that Freddie Demuth, who she had always assumed to be Engel’s son, is actually her half brother precipitates a crisis as her father’s high moral standing is called into question.

Her confidence takes another beating when, after Engel’s funeral, Aveling disappears from the family home. Eleanor is distraught but Olive and Freddie set about finding him. Aveling invites Freddie him to lunch over which he tries to blackmail him by threatening to release details of his paternity.

Aveling returns, denying all Freddie’s claims as a misunderstanding and trying to sooth Eleanor’s worries. Meanwhile, Olive and Freddie are looking for concrete evidence of Edward’s infidelity and discover that his first wife has been dead for six years and, using his pseudonym, he has married an actress and was on honeymoon during his absence.

Eleanor’s decline is complete. One by one the cornerstones of her life have collapsed. She confronts Aveling with his marriage certificate and tells him that she is excluding him from  her will. Convinced that her father’s good name is about to be ruined she commits suicide.


The play is available at £5.00 per copy downloaded or £10.00 printed and mailed. Performance licences are available from £50 per performance for amateur groups.

To purchase copies of the play, licences or see packaged options please email me at