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    Marie Curie Autograph Letter Signed "M. Curie." One page, 5.25" x 8.5", Paris, November 6, 1910, in French, on Faculté des Sciences de Paris letterhead. Following the death of her husband Pierre Curie in 1906, she took his place as Professor of General Physics in the Faculté des Sciences, the first time a woman had held this position.

    The letter, addressed to the Director of the newspaper Les Temps, reads, "An article concerning the Radium Institute which recently appeared in the last issue of the 'Cri de Paris' has just been forwarded to me. The information contained in this article is completely false. I have not as yet received either the plans or the estimates for this institute, nor have I made any of the demands mentioned in the article. I am hoping that this article, obviously conceived with malicious intent, will not be accepted by the press in a manner likely to contribute to the propagation of such a myth." Up to this time all press coverage of Curie had been of a positive nature. Curie had volunteered herself as a candidate for the single vacant seat for a physicist in the French Académie des Sciences. This seat was also sought after by Edouard Branly, who had achieved fame for his contribution to wireless telegraphy. Many articles began appearing about Curie claiming that she was Jewish, not truly French, and less deserving than Branly of a seat in the French Academy. Political cartoons focused on her gender, as another issue.

    The onslaught of slander and scandal continued the following year, 1911. Her romantic affair with fellow scientist Paul Langevin (a student of Pierre's) surfaced, and Curie was portrayed as a heartless home wrecker. Langevin had left his wife and children to be with Marie, and despite their discretion, a series of love letters between them came to light. That year, she was passed by for membership in the Académie des Sciences.

    Marie continued to focus on her work, and eventually the scandal dissipated. Her efforts would be rewarded with the building of the Radium Institute, which was completed in 1914. A fine letter commemorating a difficult time in Curie's life. Housed between sheets of acrylic for protection, the letter is very clean with just a touch of age toning. From the Judith Kaplan Women's History Collection.




    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2011
    8th-9th Friday-Saturday
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