The Day After


“Life is not easy for any of us.  But what of that?  We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves.  We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.”

Marie Curie

Romance novels always stop at the beginning.   The real adventure starts the day after“happily ever after.”

Marie (Maria) Sklodowska was brilliant and determined.  Denied a university education based on the cultural norms of the late 1800’s, she pursued her studies at the local library and at Warsaw’s clandestine Floating University. She was a voracious reader and, as it turned out, a thrifty saver. In 1891, Marie used her hard-earned savings to move to Paris and study at the Sorbonne.  It was there that she met the love of her life,  Pierre Curie. A well-known and respected French chemist, he was impressed by Marie’s passion for science.  He enticed her by offering her work in the laboratory where he was a director.  They fell in love and married in 1895.

Pierre and Marie lived modestly, near poverty, using most of their funds for research.  They were happy doing what their loved, together. Their success was remarkable. In 1898, Pierre and Marie discovered polonium and radium.  In 1903, they won, with their fellow scientist Henri Becquerrel, a Nobel Prize for Physics for discovering radioactivity.  When Pierre Curie died in a street accident in Paris on April 19, 1906, Marie promised to continue their work. She accepted his position at the Sorbonne, becoming the university’s first female teacher.  In 1911, she was the first person to be awarded a second Nobel Prize, this time for Chemistry.

Pierre and Marie believed that their work belonged to the whole world.  They refused to patent any of their lucrative discoveries and donated their gifts and awards to scientific institutions.  Marie lived for almost 30 years after the death of her husband. Every day, she fulfilled the pledge to the one she loved.

“I have no dress except the one I wear every day. If you are going to be kind enough to give me one, please let it be practical and dark so that I can put it on afterwards to go to the laboratory.”

Marie Curie

Published by Rebecca Budd

Blogger, Visual Storyteller, Podcaster, Traveler and Life-long Learner

24 thoughts on “The Day After

    1. She was truly amazing. I just found out the that Curie family received 5 Nobel Prizes. Marie – 2 (1903/1911) Pierre Curie (1903), Their daughter Irene Joliot-Curie (1935) Their son-in-law Frederic Joliot-Curie (1935) Henry Labouisse, the husband of the Curies’ second daughter Eve received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with UNICEF (1965) Quite a legacy.


  1. Madam Curie is one of those Renaissance women that are so inspirational. A genius with such humility. Thanks for sharing her story.
    Love what you did with the tulips. Beautiful ! Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day.


  2. Here’s something to give you a smile. After our conversation yesterday, I visited the depths of my bookshelves and found the book that introduced me, in detail, to the story of Marie Curie, “The Children’s Book of Famous Lives” edited by Eric Duthie. It was given to me as a prize for ……..a schools art competition when I was about 11 years old. I don’t remember what I drew! I had a great time re reading the story of Marie Curie. It’s a wonderful book. More importantly, the book reminds me of the incredible excitement of the first library in our town, probably about 1966 and the fact that as a youngster I was trusted to work as a volunteer in the library.


    1. What a remarkable narrative! A library, a book, a volunteer, a beginning, the past, knowledge, learning, excitement! I have goosebumps. Thank you so much for sharing. A true Valentine’s Day story.


  3. What an inspirational story. I didn’t know anything about their lives together and this brought them to life. Thanks for sharing.

    I love the quote about the dress! A few words that give us such an insight into the personality of such a remarkable woman.


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