Marie Skłodowska-Curie


A symbol of the advance of women’s rights because she was able to establish herself in the scientific world at the beginning of the 19th century, Marie Skłodowska-Curie is a talented physic-chemist whose research has propelled her towards a world reputation. Born in Warsaw, the city is teeming with places that remind passers-by of the history of its life shared between Poland and France. Maria Sklodowska , better known as Marie Curie, was born in Warsaw in 1867. Physicist, chemist and feminist, her research on radioactivity makes her one of the most renowned scientists in the world.

Nobel Prizes history

In the history of the Nobel Prizes, being a female laureate is not a common occurrence. Of the approximately 850 prizes awarded to date, only 44 are awarded to women. Moreover, in the field of physics and chemistry, there are now only six winners, including two prizes for Marie Skłodowska-Curie and one for her daughter Irène. These figures allow us to better understand Mary’s exceptional position in this scientific world. Marie Curie was the first women to win a Nobel prize and the first person to win two Nobel Prizes.


It is great to understand her evolution to look a bit closer to her family. Mary comes from a highly educated family. Her parents were both teachers. Her father, Wladyslaw, a math and physics instructor was probably a great source of inspiration. Nevertheless, the tragedy of the loss of her mother at the age of 10 and her father when she was 11 is certainly the trigger for her orientation in sciences.


Since very young, Marie Curie had a bright and curious mind and excelled at school. She was already interested in physics and graduated at 15. However, Curie could not attend the men-only University of Warsaw just after that. Then, she started to give informal classes, held in secret. Marie Curie was determined, giving those classes would allow her to earn money in order to join France and take classes in Paris. And she did it. Marie joined Paris and earned higher degrees in the University La Sorbonne. This is where she did her important scientific work.


At the Municipal School of Industrial Physics and Chemistry, she met her husband, Pierre. They started to work together on scientific discoveries. They created the theory of radioactivity, even founded the term actually. Marie Curie used her own studies in radioactivity to develop a new treatment for cancer. After the war, hospital raised money for her radiation research and she even presented those projects in the USA. This was the beginning of her celebrity. Indeed, she founded a new laboratory and she was a real symbol of peace, even invited on the council of the League of Nations where she supported world peace. During the 1920’, Curie’s health started to be impacted by her over exposition to radiation. A tragedy she did not want to admit to herself or others. On July 4, 1934, at 66 years old, she died in a Sanatorium at the French Alps.

Poland and worldwide figure

The Radium Institute in Warsaw, now the Oncology Centre, built at Mary’s request, remains the most beautiful tribute she has ever paid to her hometown. Its inauguration took place in 1932. On this occasion, Mary offers the Institute a gram of radium from her personal reserves, a gift of inestimable value. Mary will remain throughout her evolution, extremely attached to Poland, its history, its language, and its development. Scientist, woman, mother and Franco-Polish, Marie Skłodowska-Curie is one of Warsaw’s most famous characters and a figure in the history of world science.