One of the most enjoyable writing contests I’ve entered was a letter writing contest run by the Historical Fiction Contests profile on Wattpad about a year ago. The prompt was pretty simple: to write a love letter based on a historical romance.
There’s something I have always loved about writing letters. I think the first person aspect allows you to really get inside the character’s head, making it much easier to convey their thoughts and emotions. I was therefore so excited to see this contest prompt – and I eventually decided to write a love letter from Marie Curie to her husband Pierre.
Marie Curie is a historical figure I have always admired. As a female physics graduate, I have a great deal of respect for her remarkable achievements in science, made during a time when it was a field not many women were permitted to enter into. Until I properly started researching more about her life, however, I didn’t realise just how many other challenges she faced.
In order to carry out their work on radioactivity, Marie and Pierre Curie required a laboratory with more space. They were eventually granted an unoccupied shed at the university where Pierre worked, with a glass roof which did not entirely keep out the rain and cold. It’s almost impossible to imagine this pair of remarkable scientists rushing around with buckets to catch the drips from the ceiling, whilst working on their discovery which would eventually lead to a Nobel Prize.
Barely three years after Pierre and Marie received their Nobel Prize, Marie was struck by a terribly tragedy. As he crossed the road near Pont Neuf on the 19th April 1906, Pierre Curie was hit by a carriage and killed, leaving Marie and their two daughters, Irene (8) and Eve (1) behind.
It is said that upon receiving the news of her beloved husband’s death, Marie did not immediately weep, but went into a numb state of shock, before demanding that the body be returned to her so that she might carry out an autopsy. Later she would confess that she did not deal with her grief well – but who can blame her? Pierre had always recognised her immense talent and treated her as an equal in a world which was not welcoming to women; he had been Marie’s partner in everything they achieved.
Following Pierre’s death, Marie often wrote to him in her diary – and this is what inspired the love letter I wrote, which you can read for free here on Wattpad. It is lovely to think that she kept her husband near to her heart even after his death, and that she continued with the work they had set out to accomplish together, going on to achieve so many great things.
I hope you enjoyed reading this little snippet into the incredible life Madame Curie. I personally love learning about the lives of important people in history, and I definitely plan to write more posts like this in future!