Marie Sklodowska Curie November 7, 1867 – July 4, 1934
A hero because of her individual determination in adversity
In the face of poverty, her mother’s early death, and lack of educational opportunities for women in her native Poland, Marie Sklodowska’s determination to learn overcame the many obstacles life brought her way.
Hindered as a female from attending the University of Warsaw, Marie pursued her education through Warsaw’s famous Flying University, informal classes held in secret in order to escape the Russian oppression that dominated the country.
While working as a tutor and governess, to help support her sister Bronya’s studies in Paris, Marie used her spare time to keep up her reading in physics, chemistry and mathematics. Five years later, in 1891, Marie was finally able to join her sister in Paris, enrolling in the Sorbonne, where she excelled in her studies. With little income, she survived on a diet of bread and tea, struggling with poor health as a result.
In 1893, Marie finally completed her master’s degree in physics, and the following year earned another degree in mathematics.
As she pursued her scientific studies, Marie began working in the lab of French physicist Pierre Curie, and as their romance developed, the foundation was set for a dynamic scientific collaboration that lasted until Pierre’s accidental death in 1906.
During her lifetime, Marie Curie became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize; sharing the 1903 Nobel prize in Physics; first scientist to win two Noble prizes; winning the 1911 Nobel prize in Chemistry, and the first female professor to teach at the Sorbonne.
She discovered radium and polonium, championed the use of portable X-ray machines during World War I, and saw her work usher in a new era of medical research and treatment.
She died in France in 1934 due to illness caused by her exposure to radiation.
I was taught that the way of progress was neither swift nor easy. ~ Marie Curie
Why Marie Curie inspires me…
As a woman, Marie struggled to get the recognition she deserved. In spite of her many accomplishments, she often was unrecognized for her achievements, and left underfunded for her research. Yet despite the prejudice of her day, she was able to establish herself as a scientist, and is one of the most famous scientists in history. Her determination led to her achievement.
Who is your hero? Why does this person inspire you?
- Madame Curie by Eve Curie
- Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie by Lauren Redniss
- Marie Curie and Her Daughters by Shelley Emling
- Marie Curie: A Life by Susan Quinn
For Young Readers:
- Who Was Marie Curie? by Megan Stine
- Marie Curie | Wikipedia
- Marie Curie | Biography
- Marie Curie | BBC History
- Marie Curie | American Institute of Physics
- Marie Curie | BrainyQuote
- Marie Curie | Wikipedia Photo
- Flying University | Wikipedia