Maria Skłodowska was born in Warsaw, Poland, on 7 November 1867, the fifth and youngest child of well-known teachers Bronisława and Władysław Skłodowski. Maria's older siblings wereZofia (born 1862), Józef (1863), Bronisława (1865), and Helena (1866).
The deaths of her mother and sister, according to Robert William Reid, caused Maria to give up Catholicism and become agnostic.When she was ten years old, Maria began attending the boarding school that her mother had operated while she was well; next Maria attended a gymnasium for girls, from which she graduated on 12 June 1883.She spent the following year in the countryside with her father's relatives, and the next with her father in Warsaw, where she did some tutoring. Maria made an agreement with her sister, Bronisława,that she would give her financial assistance during Bronisława's medical studies in Paris, in exchange for similar assistance two years later. In connection with this, Maria took a position asgoverness: first with a lawyer's family in Kraków; then for two years in Ciechanów with a landed family, the Żorawskis, who were relatives of her father. While working for the latter family, she fell inlove with their son, Kazimierz Żorawski, which was reciprocated by this future eminent mathematician. His parents, however, rejected the idea of his marrying the penniless relative, and Kazimierz wasunable to oppose them. Maria lost her position as governess. She found another with the Fuchs family in Sopot, on the Baltic Sea coast, where she spent the next year, all the while financiallyassisting her sister.
Maria's loss of the relationship with Żorawski was tragic for both. He soon earned a doctorate and pursued an academic career as a mathematician, becoming a professor and rector ofKraków University and president of the Warsaw Society of Learning. Still, as an old man and a mathematics professor at the Warsaw Polytechnic, he would sit contemplatively before the statue of Maria... [continua]
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