Historical Context

(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

The Sorbonne
Spanning two centuries, the Curie family was affiliated with the Sorbonne, a college of the University of Paris....

(The entire section is 632 words.)

Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Eve Curie’s Madame Curie: A Biography describes the life of her mother, a woman who faced a constant uphill struggle against odds that most people would find overwhelming. The Poland into which Marie Skodowska was born, in 1867, existed only in the mind of her patriots. In the closing decades of the eighteenth century, the nation of Poland was absorbed into its neighbors, chiefly Russia, and had ceased to exist. Yet the dream of nationhood did not die. The underlying theme of Curie’s discoveries, in addition to the betterment of humankind, became a contribution to the intellectual life of Poland.

Madame Curie is divided into twenty-seven chapters, arranged in three major parts. Curie initially chronicles her mother’s childhood and early schooling. Marie Curie was the youngest of five children born to Vladislav Skodowska, a physics teacher in Warsaw. She dealt early with tragedy, as first her sister and then her mother died before Curie was twelve years old. Forced from his job by an autocratic system, her father had to struggle to rear the family. From necessity, Curie spent six years as a governess, learning science in her spare time from books.

The narrative then passes into her years of success. Curie’s life brought her to Paris, where she entered the Sorbonne and earned degrees both in physics and in mathematics. It is also there that she met and married Pierre Curie. Through letters, the reader follows their...

(The entire section is 462 words.)


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The biography begins with Marie Curie's birth in 1867, in Warsaw. Poland has been dominated by the Russian Empire for over one hundred years,...

(The entire section is 546 words.)

Literary Style

(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

Genre: Biography of a Great Woman in History
Madame Curie is written in the genre (or literary category) of biography. It...

(The entire section is 709 words.)

Literary Qualities

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

A carefully researched, factually exact biography, Madame Curie portrays the warmth of a daughter's love and respect for her mother....

(The entire section is 267 words.)

Social Sensitivity

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Madame Curie exhibits a degree of national prejudice. Marie's childhood experiences lead her to distrust and despise Russia, a hatred...

(The entire section is 206 words.)

Compare and Contrast

(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

1867: Marie Curie is born in Warsaw, Vistula Land (Poland).

1870: A massive migration of Poles to the United States...

(The entire section is 527 words.)

Topics for Discussion

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. What is Marie's opinion of responsibility and loyalty to one's family? How does her life affirm or disaffirm that conviction?


(The entire section is 235 words.)

Ideas for Reports and Papers

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Eve says that even as a child Marie "learned that life was cruel," and that her life might be described as a series of battles. What are...

(The entire section is 334 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

Increasingly throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first century, radiation has been used for medical purposes. Four...

(The entire section is 242 words.)

Related Titles / Adaptations

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer released a motion picture version of Madame Curie in 1943. Produced by Sidney Franklin, directed by Mervyn LeRoy,...

(The entire section is 70 words.)

Media Adaptations

(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

Madame Curie was adapted to the screen in a 1943 production by M.G.M. studios, directed by Mervyn LeRoy and starring Greer Garson as...

(The entire section is 32 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

Pierre Curie (1923) is a biography by Marie Curie of her husband, partner in scientific experimentation and discovery, and co-winner...

(The entire section is 161 words.)

For Further Reference

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Giroud, Francoise. Marie Curie: A Life. Translated by Lydia Davis. New York: Holmes and Meier, 1986. This biography was originally...

(The entire section is 169 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

Heilbrun, Carolyn G., Writing a Woman’s Life, Ballantine Books, 1988.

Quinn, Susan, Marie Curie:...

(The entire section is 186 words.)