Marie Curie

A Biography

by Marilyn Bailey Ogilvie


This book is a short, readable biography of Marie Curie, the winner of two Nobel Prizes, who endured many hardships in her life (some of her own making) to become the best scientist possible.

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Cover image for Marie Curie

September 2004


Pages 184
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Science/General
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    Hardcover: £34.00/36,00€/A$56.00

Marie Curie (1867-1934) was one of the most important woman scientists in history, and she was one of the most influential scientists—man or woman—of the 20th century. Curie postulated that radiation was an atomic property, a discovery that has led to significant scientific developments since. She was also the first person to use the term radioactivity. Her perseverance led to the discovery of two new elements, polonium and radium. This combination of creativity and perseverance netted her two Nobel Prizes, one in physics and the second in chemistry. This book, however, looks at more than her scientific achievements. While Curie is often portrayed as a stern, one-dimensional woman so totally committed to her science that she was incapable of complex emotions, the truth is that the opposite is the case.

Marie Curie: A Biography covers her entire lifetime, beginning with her early life and education in a Poland under the oppressive rule of the czar of Russia. The book discusses all aspects—both personal and scientific—of her fascinating life:
• Her education at the Sorbonne in Paris, where she earned the equivalent of two master's degrees—one in physics and a second in mathematics
• Her marriage to Pierre Curie, with whom she collaborated on much of her scientific work
• The personal scandal that surrounded Marie in the aftermath of Pierre's tragic death
• The Nobel Prize awards, and the detractors who believed that her work was actually performed by her husband
Curie's work in establishing mobile X-ray units during World War I, and the establishment of radium institutes to study radiation

Running throughout there is the much of the book is the tension between radium as a positive discovery and, on the other hand, the health risks that working with it presents. The book includes a timeline of important events in Curie's life and a bibliography of important primary and secondary sources.

Series Description

Greenwood Biographies

Ideal for student research assignments, this series features interesting and important figures—contemporary and historical—drawn from a broad range of curriculum subject areas, including history, science, politics, literature, and the arts. The series fills a gap in reference collections, offering full-length, engagingly written biographies that are enjoyable to read, based on authoritative research, and fully documented. Each volume includes:
  • Coverage from birth to death or the present day
  • Timeline highlighting significant biographical events and career contributions
  • Portfolio of photographs depicting the subject at different stages of life
  • Bibliography of print and electronic resources recommended for further study

From Bob Marley and Dr. Dre to Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice, the Greenwood Biographies spotlight the people who shape our world.
Table of Contents

IntroductionEarly Life and EducationPreparing for the FutureParis and the SorbonnePierre and MarieThe Discovery and Radium: A Scientific BreakthroughA Year of Contrasts: Good News, Bad News"Pierre is Dead? Dead? Absolutely Dead?"Scandal!The Second Nobel Prize, Its Aftermath, and WarMarie and the USALast YearsConclusionTime LineBibliograpgy: Primary SourcesBibliography: Secondary Sources



[P]rovides a fast-paced and well-documented portrait of Marie Curie and the world surrounding her....[t]his book creates a delicate balance between her personal and professional life. The author is careful in her conclusions from available records. This book is a wonderful addition to those narratives about an accomplished scientist.—The American Biology Teacher

The book tells the story of Marie Curie's life. Her struggles against poverty and prejudice are emphasized, and throughout the book the author makes many links that may be familiar to modern teenagers. The importance of Marie Curie's pioneering work in radioactivity is described and, while the author is careful to describe and credit Pierre Curie's contributions, she explores the difficulties that Marie Curie had in gaining recognition as a scientist from the establishment....[t]he meticulous bibliographies at the end of each chapter are a model of good practice for students.—School Science Review

[A] top pick for high school to college-level collections.—MBR Internet Bookwatch

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