Marie Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the first person to win two Nobel Prizes, one in Physics and the other in Chemistry.
Marie Curie, (née Maria Sklodowska) was born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1867, the daughter of a secondary-school teacher.
Her father gave her some scientific training and she then attended a secret academy, the “Flying University,” organized for young women who wanted to take college-level courses but were not permitted to attend the University of Warsaw.
The classes met in different locations to avoid the attention of the police.
Russia had invaded Poland in the 1790s and dominated much of Polish life.
In 1830, Marie’s grandfather had participated in an uprising against the Russians, and Marie followed in his footsteps.
She became involved in a students’ revolutionary organization, but soon found it prudent to leave Poland.
She worked as a governess to raise the money and in 1891, went to Paris to study at the Sorbonne, where she received advanced degrees in physics and mathematics.
At the Sorbonne, she met Pierre Curie, Professor in the School of Physics, fell in love, and in 1895 they were married.
They worked closely together, studying the radioactive elements in uranium, then recently discovered by Henri Becquerel.
As Marie described their poor working conditions: “We had not even a good laboratory at that time. We worked in a hangar where there were no improvements, no good chemical arrangements.
We had no help, no money. And because of that the work could not go on as it would have done under better conditions.”
Nonetheless, their work was highly productive. Marie would later succeed her husband as Head of the Physics Laboratory at the Sorbonne and then take his place as Professor of General Physics in the Faculty of Sciences.
On 23 August, 1966, the Gurindji people walked off the job at Wave Hill Station in the Northern Territory in protest over low wages, bad work conditions and the dispossession of their land.
The 250 men, women and children were led by Vincent Lingiari, (pictured above) a community elder and head stockman at the 26,975sq.km cattle station 600km south of Darwin in the Northern Territory.
A nine-year strike followed that remains the longest in Australian history, ending with the handing back of the land to the Gurindji by the Australian government.
This event marked a crucial point in the national Aboriginal land rights movement and led to the establishment of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (Northern Territory) of 1976, the first law to recognise indigenous land ownership.
Poor conditions for indigenous workers
“Wave Hill was a major step on the long road towards equality between settlers and indigenous Australians,” says Professor Deborah Rose, an anthropologist at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.
Vincent meets Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1975. (ABC News).
Matters dropped leaflets over London from an airship emblazoned ‘Votes for Women’. Photograph: still from docudrama Muriel Mattters.
by Amy Fallon
She has not been much celebrated in her homeland but Muriel Matters – an Australian-born suffragist who achieved notoriety in Britain after pulling off a series of brave and quirky stunts there in the early 1900s – is finally getting the recognition she deserves.
Matters, an actor who left Adelaide for Britain when she was 28 to further her musical career, once sailed over London in an airship emblazoned with “Votes For Women”, dropping leaflets for the militant Women’s Freedom League (WFL).
She was also charged with disorderly conduct and imprisoned after chaining herself to “that vile grille” in the Ladies’ Gallery of the British House of Commons in 1908.
Obscuring women’s view of parliamentary debates, the piece of ironwork was considered a sign of female oppression.
Frances Bedford MP. from The Muriel Matters Society thinks that part of the problem is that Matters didn’t do much for the franchise in her birth country – not least because women in Australia got the vote earlier than women in Britain.
The suffragist, who was also a lecturer, elocutionist and journalist, called Britain home from 1905, by which point most Australian states had granted many women, although not Aboriginal women, the right to vote.
“While in UK, she was from the colonies, and as not one of the Pankhurst people, she was outside their recognition,” says Bedford. “Also, as one of the WFL people, she was against the war – another problem at the time – and she married a divorced person, who seems to have left his wife for her.”
The execution of George Mellor, William Thorpe, and Thomas Smith on 8 January 1813.
by David Mellor
George Mellor was born in 1789, a watershed year in European history for that was the date which heralded the beginning of the French Revolution, an event that was to have such a significant effect on Great Britain for the next quarter of a century.
George was born in Huddersfield, the son of William Mellor. Little is known of George’s early life but it seems that he received a fairly comprehensive education as by the time he went to work he could both read and write well.
George’s family came from the working classes and everyday life for such people could be a very precarious affair. George was apprenticed as a “Cropper” at John Wood’s Finishing Shop at Longroyd Bridge, Yorkshire.
The job of the cropper was to trim the nap off the woollen yarn and to give it a very neat and smooth finish. The job was highly skilled and the croppers were the most highly paid of the workers in the finishing shops. By 1812 George was highly proficient in the use of these shears.
However, the latter years of the Napoleonic Wars were highly unsettled. The very great fear that the British working classes might revolt, as the French peasantry was a worry for the British ruling class.
Couple that with the vast advances that science and technology were making in what was to be known as the Industrial Revolution and it will be seen that the conditions obtaining at the time had all the volatile elements for massive social upheaval and unrest.
George himself was particularly affected. Nearly twenty years of war with France had seen the near collapse of the exporting of finished woollen cloth and goods. The value of the trade had dropped from over £12 million to around £1 million per annum.
At the same time England had suffered a series of disastrous harvests. The cost of food was rocketing whilst the rates of pay were falling.
It was into this highly charged situation that two Yorkshire brothers, James & Enoch Taylor, introduced an invention that was to have violent repercussions in the wool trade.
The brothers invented and manufactured a cropping machine that could do the work of ten men. Another product of their workshops was a large sledgehammer, nicknamed an “Enoch”. The new cropping machines did not give the woollen cloth such a good finish as the skilled croppers but that did not hinder their introduction into many mills with the consequent loss of work.
Luddism had already reared its head in the Nottinghamshire villages of Bulwell and Arnold.
The word Luddism is believed to have been taken from the founder of the movement, one Ned Ludd, (see above Image) also known as General Ludd. There is no historical proof that any such person existed in real life.
Luddism itself seems to have taken different forms in different parts of the country. In Nottinghamshire Luddism seems to be associated almost entirely with acts of destruction and vandalism. In Yorkshire, where George Mellor operated the movement was far more politically orientated.
George Mellor saw Luddism as a vehicle for change and improvement in the lot of the labouring classes. To be labelled a “Luddite” is to infer that a person is against progress. This was not the case at all.
In Yorkshire where George Mellor was operating the factories where the new cropping frames were being manufactured were never targeted for destruction.
Likewise the new canal at nearby Marsden was not seen as a threat to the livelihood of working people. Luddites were not opposed to progress per se, only progress that was detrimental to themselves.