Marie Curie and Her Daughters: The Private Lives of Science's First Family
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Published to widespread acclaim, in Marie Curie and Her Daughters, science writer Shelley Emling shows that far from a shy introvert toiling away in her laboratory, the famed scientist and two-time Nobel prize winner was nothing short of an iconoclast. Emling draws on personal letters released by Curie's only granddaughter to show how Marie influenced her daughters yet let them blaze their own paths: Irene followed her mother's footsteps into science and was instrumental in the discovery of nuclear fission; Eve traveled the world as a foreign correspondent and then moved on to humanitarian missions. Emling also shows how Curie, following World War I, turned to America for help. Few people know about Curie's close friendship with American journalist Missy Meloney, who arranged speaking tours across the country for Marie, Eve, and Irene. Months on the road, charming audiences both large and small, endeared the Curies to American women and established a lifelong relationship with the United States that formed one of the strongest connections of Marie's life. Factually rich, personal, and original, this is an engrossing story about the most famous woman in science that rips the cover off the myth and reveals the real person, friend, and mother behind it.
certainly think some of the words and passages were thought of by Mrs. Meloney.” Indeed, the first eighteen pages of Pierre Curie are a tribute to Marie written by Meloney in which she says that “When most of us shall have been forgotten, when ever the Great World War shall have dwindled to a few pages in the history books, when Governments shall have fallen and risen and fallen again, the work of Marie Curie will be remembered.” But when it came to the money raised in America, there was a long
asked her what it was like to be the daughter of such famous parents, Irene looked as if she didn’t know what he was talking about, remarking that it really didn’t affect her. Rarely have there been two sets of personality traits and interests so completely different. With dark hair and eyes, Frédéric was a charming man, a magnetic character who loved women and people in general. He was an extremely well-rounded athlete, an avid skier, sailor, hunter, fisherman, and tennis player. He also played
ceremony in 1935, Hans Spemann—a German embryologist who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine—punctuated the end of his acceptance speech with a gesture as Irene and Frédéric looked on incredulously. That gesture was a Nazi salute. CHAPTER 11 Tributes and New Causes For many months following Marie’s subdued funeral in Sceaux, lavish tributes to her flowed from America. Nearly a year after Marie’s death, in June 1935, Missy Meloney presided over one such marquee gathering on New York
judgment—all these were of the kind seldom found in a single individual.” He went on to add that, “if but a small part of Mme Curie’s strength of character and devotion were alive in Europe’s intellectuals, Europe would face a brighter future.” Another remark by Einstein, made just before her death and often repeated, noted that “Marie Curie is, of all celebrated beings, the only one whom fame has not corrupted.” Many American students and scientists mourned her death. Their words fed into the
Einstein’s home in Princeton, New Jersey. These trips to America were something of a distraction for the couple, who had been grieving the death of Paul Langevin in December 1946 following a brief illness. The French government afforded him a state funeral, and his remains were transferred to the Pantheon in 1948 at the same time as those of Jean Perrin, another close Curie friend. At the funeral, an emotional Frédéric noted that Langevin was the one who “determined my destiny when he said he