WOMEN’S HISTORY ⚛ MARIE CURIE (7 November 1867 – 4 July 1934)
Marie Curie was born in Poland to teachers Bronisława Boguska and Władysław Skłodowski. From the age of ten, Marie attended a boarding school and then a Gymnasium. In 1891, Marie moved to Paris with her sister and brother-in-law and studied chemistry, mathematics, and physics at the Sorbonne. She graduated with a degree in physics in 1893 and got a job working for physicist Gabriel Lippmann. In 1894, she was introduced to Pierre Curie by Józef Wierusz-Kowalski. They fell in love, attracted by the other’s passion for science. Pierre proposed to her, but she refused as she planned to return to Poland eventually. In the summer of 1894, she went back to Warsaw to visit her family. She applied for a position at Kraków University, but was rejected because she was a woman. She returned to Paris and married Pierre on 26 July 1895. Pierre and Marie had two daughters, Irène and Ève-Denise.
As a married couple, Pierre and Marie studied X-rays and Uranium. In 1898, they discovered Radium. In 1903, the Curies and Henri Becquerel won Nobel Prizes for physics. Originally, Marie had not been nominated and it took a complaint by Pierre to get her name added. Three years later, Pierre was killed in a traffic accident. Marie became a professor of physics at the Sorbonne in his place. In 1911, she was honored with a second Noble Prize. During that time, she became acquainted with German physicist, Albert Einstein. He defended her during the press scandal about her affair with Paul Langevin.
During World War I, Marie became the director of the Red Cross’ Radiology Service and used radium from her own supplies to power X-Rays. She was assisted in this by her daughter, Irène, who also became a chemist. Marie died in 1934 of Aplastic anemia, that was probably caused by exposure to radium.