Who was Ève Curie?
Ève Curie, the younger daughter of the famous scientist Marie Curie, was a musician, writer, war reporter and humanitarian. Despite holding a degree in science, she decided to pursue her interests in arts and humanities. She started her career as a pianist but later gained recognition for writing her mother Marie Curie’s biography. After receiving praise for her writing, she became a war reporter and recorded her experiences in another book, which was also well received by the readers. She visited various war-torn countries and did a great amount of work for UNICEF along with her husband Henry Labouisse. On her 100th birthday, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, paid her a visit, while the US president and the French president sent their greetings to her.
Childhood & Early Life
Ève Denise Curie Labouisse was born on December 6, 1904 in Paris, France to renowned physical chemists Marie and Pierre Curie. She was seven years younger than her older sister, Irène, who later went on to win a Nobel prize. Ève lost her father to an accident when she was barely two years old. Following which the family started living with her paternal grandfather, Dr. Eugène Curie.
After Dr. Eugène Curie passed away, Marie Curie brought up her two daughters by herself, making sure that both the sister excelled in academics as well as sports.
Ève received her baccalaureate in 1925 from Sevigne College, graduating in both science and philosophy. Even though she studied science, she was more inclined towards writing and performing arts. She performed her first piano concert in Paris in 1925 and went on to give several other performances.
Ève lived alone with her mother after his sister Irène married Frédéric Joliot in 1926. Both sisters took great care of their mother when she was ill. Marie died on July 4, 1934.
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After Marie Curie passed away, her daughter Ève Curie decided to write a book on her life. She isolated herself by shifting to a tiny apartment in Auteuil, Yvelines, to be able to dedicate herself to the job at hand. She also visited Poland to gather information about Marie’s childhood and younger days.
Marie’s biography titled ‘Madame Curie’ released in 1937 and went on to become a huge success. The book, which was published in several countries, including the US, England, France, Spain and Italy, became a bestseller in most countries. In the US, the book bagged the ‘National Book Award’ for Non-Fiction by the American Booksellers Association.
Ève then took to writing music critique for the French weekly ‘Candide’ under a pen name. She also wrote for several Parisian journals and periodicals.
In 1932, she translated the French adaptation of George S. Brooks and Walter B’s American play ‘Spread Eagle’. Titled ‘145 Wall Street’, the play was performed at Theatre du Gymnase and successfully ran for several weeks.
In 1940, during the Second World War, Ève became the head of women’s division of the Commissariat of Information, supporting France against the German forces. She conducted lectures on war in the US and embarked on various tours over a span of 10 years.
Inspired by her 1940 meeting with the First Lady of the United States, Eleanor Roosevelt, Ève gave lectures on ‘French Women and the War’. Her essays were later published by the monthly magazine ‘The Atlantic’ under the same title.
International Herald Tribune hired Ève as a war correspondent, which saw her travel to India, China, and Myanmar. She also visited places in North Africa, the Middle East, and the Soviet Union. During her assignments, she met famous leaders like Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Chiang Kai-shek and Mahatma Gandhi. She documented her experiences in the book ‘Journey Among Warriors’, published in 1943.
After the Second World War, Ève co-established the daily newspaper ‘Paris-Presse’, which ran from 1945 to 1949.
In 1952, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) named her as the special adviser to the secretary general, a role she played for two years.
In acknowledgment for her work with the UNICEF, Ève was awarded the rank of 'Officier de la Légion d'Honneur' of the Republic of France in July 2005.
Family & Personal Life
In 1954, Ève Curie married Henry Richardson Labouisse, Jr. who worked as director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East from 1954 to 1958. He was then appointed the US ambassador to Greece from 1962 to 1965 and later the executive director of UNICEF between 1965 to 1979.
Ève was granted US citizenship in 1958. She did not have any biological children, but she raised Labouisse’s daughter, Anne Peretz, born from his first marriage.
Labouisse passed away on March 25, 1987, after which Ève started living alone in New York City.
Two years after celebrating her 100th birthday, Ève died in her sleep on 22 October 2007, in her house in Sutton Place in Manhattan.