She did her scientific work here Marie Curie
Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the
time to understand more, so that we may fear less.
(1867-1934)physicist and chemist, 2 time Nobel Laureate
7 November 1867(1867-11-07)Warsaw, Vistula Country, Russian Empire
4 July 1934 (aged 66)Passy, France
University of Paris
University of ParisESPCI
André-Louis DebierneÓscar MorenoMarguerite Catherine Perey
radioactivity, polonium, radium
Nobel Prize in Physics (1903)Davy Medal (1903)Matteucci Medal (1904)Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1911)
Her achievements include the creation of a theory of radioactivity (a term coined by her), techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes, and the discovery of two new elements, polonium and radium. It was also under her personal direction that the world's first studies were conducted into the treatment of neoplasms ("cancers"), using radioactive isotopes.
While an actively loyal French citizen, she never lost her sense of Polish identity. She named the first new chemical element that she discovered (1898) "polonium" for her native country, and in 1932 she founded a Radium Institute (now the Maria Skłodowska–Curie Institute of Oncology) in her home town Warsaw, headed by her physician-sister Bronisława
Maria Skłodowska was born in Warsaw, Poland, on November 7, 1867, the fifth and youngest child of well-known teachers Bronisława and Władysław Skłodowski. Maria's older siblings were Zofia (born 1862), Józef (1863), Bronisława (1865) and Helena (1866).
Maria's grandfather Józef Skłodowski had been a respected teacher in Lublin, where he had taught the young Bolesław Prus. Her father Władysław Skłodowski taught mathematics and physics, subjects that Maria was to pursue, and was director successively of two Warsaw gymnasia for boys, in addition to lodging boys in the family home. Her mother, Bronisława, operated a prestigious Warsaw girls' boarding school; she suffered from tuberculosis and died when Maria was twelve. Maria's father was an atheist, and her mother a devout Catholic.
Two years earlier, Maria's oldest sibling, Zofia, had died of typhus. The deaths of her mother and sister, according to Robert William Reid, caused Maria to give up Catholicism and become agnostic.
When she was ten years old, Maria began attending the boarding school that her mother had operated while she was well; next Maria attended a female gymnasium, from which she graduated on 12 June 1883. She spent the following year in the countryside at her father's relatives, and next with her father in Warsaw, where she did some tutoring.
On both the paternal and maternal sides, the family had lost their property and fortunes through patriotic involvements in Polish national uprisings. This condemned each subsequent generation, including that of Maria and her elder sisters and brother, to a difficult struggle to get ahead in life.
Maria made an agreement with her sister Bronisława, that she would give her financial assistance during Bronisława's medical studies in Paris, in exchange for similar assistance two years later. In connection with this, she took a position as governess. First with a lawyer's family in Kraków, then for two years in Ciechanów with a landed family, the Żorawskis, relatives of her father. While working for the latter family, she fell in love with their son Kazimierz Żorawski, which the future eminent mathematician reciprocated. His parents, however, rejected the idea of his marrying the penniless relative, and Kazimierz was unable to oppose them. Maria lost her governess' position. She found another with the Fuchs family in Sopot, on the Baltic Sea coast, where she spent the next year, all the while financially assisting her sister.
Krakowskie Przedmieście 66, near Warsaw's Old Town (in the distance). As noted on the plaque, it was here, in 1890–91, that Maria Skłodowska did her first scientific work.
Kazimierz Żorawski in later life
At the beginning of 1890, Bronisława, who had a few months earlier married Kazimierz Dłuski, invited Maria to join them in Paris. Maria declined because she could not afford the university tuition and was still counting on marrying Kazimierz Żorawski. She returned home to her father, with whom she remained till the fall of 1891, tutoring, studying at the clandestine Floating University, and beginning her practical scientific training in a laboratory at the Museum of Industry and Agriculture run by her cousin Józef Boguski, who had been assistant in St. Petersburg to the great Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleyev.
In October 1891, at her sister's insistence and after receiving a letter from Żorawski definitively breaking up with her, she decided to go to France after all.
Skłodowska studied during the day, and she tutored evenings, barely earning her keep. In 1893 she obtained a degree in physics and began work in an industrial laboratory at Lippman's. Meanwhile she continued studying at the Sorbonne and in 1894 earned a degree in mathematics.
In the same year Pierre Curie entered her life. He was an instructor in the School of Physics and Chemistry, the École Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles de la Ville de Paris (ESPCI). Skłodowska had begun her scientific career in Paris with an investigation of the magnetic properties of various steels; it was their mutual interest in magnetism that drew Skłodowska and Curie together..
Her departure for the summer to Warsaw only enhanced their mutual feelings for each other. She was still laboring under the illusion that she would be able to return to Poland and work in her chosen field of study. When, however, she was denied a place at Kraków University merely because she was a woman, she returned to Paris. Almost a year later, in July 1895, she and Pierre Curie married, and thereafter the two physicists hardly ever left their laboratory. Their shared hobbies were only long bicycle trips and journeys abroad, which brought them even closer. Maria had found a new love, a partner and scientific collaborator that she could depend on.