Marie Curie

1867 - 1934

Marie Curie was a pioneering physicist and chemist whose work focussed on radioactivity. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and only woman to win it twice, and the only person to win the prize in two sciences.


Marie Curie c1920

In 1881 Marie Curie left her home in Warsaw, Poland, for Paris to study physics, chemistry, and mathematics. While studying in Paris, she met her future husband and colleague Pierre Curie.

The Curies became research workers and they started to investigate a glow given off by uranium – a new phenomenon recently discovered by Henri Becquerel. This research led to the discovery of two radioactive elements, Polonium and Radium. These discoveries and studies in radioactivity became instrumental in the development of some cancer treatments.

During World War I, Marie Curie and her daughter Irene created a unit of mobile x-ray trucks, which were used to help wounded soldiers. She trained a number of women volunteers to use and take them to the front along herself. Curie was quoted as saying that "progress is neither swift nor easy" which was reflected in her study of dangerous, unstable substances that affected her health, and in her striving to adapt her discoveries to help society.


As picked by...


Ellena Grillo, Exhibitions Officer