Some historians believe that Albert Einstein’s wife, as a mathematician, made a major contribution to the creation of the theory of relativity. And for some reason, her participation went unnoticed. This fact is already impossible to prove. But injustice towards other prominent women has been documented. So, the artist Margaret Keen was forced to sue her husband, who appropriated all her works, and astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell received a reward for her contribution to the discovery of pulsars only after several decades.
The writer Colette
Sidoni-Gabriel Colette, 20, married a writer known as Willy. For 8 years, women wrote 4 novels, which were published under the name of her husband and made him popular.
The girl could not stand it, got divorced and began her own literary career. The pinnacle of her work was the nomination for the Nobel Prize in literature in 1948. She also became the first woman – a member of the Goncourt Academy.
According to one of Colette’s most popular books, Gigi, a Broadway musical was staged, in which the then-unknown Audrey Hepburn was chosen.
Several films were made about the life of the writer, the last in 2018, women played the main role in it. The actress said in an interview: “It would be great to get an Oscar for Colette.”
Artist Margaret Keane
When Margaret Keane found out that her husband Walter sold her work under his own name, she was outraged. Her husband convinced her that it would be easier to make money. They argued for a year, then she put up with the agreement that for 13 years her husband would sell her work as his own.
Walter became one of the most popular and commercially successful artists of the 1960s. At the peak of the popularity of paintings, Margaret worked 16 hours a day. The husband threatened to kill her if she told someone the truth.
Just deciding to divorce, the artist filed a lawsuit against her husband. To prove authorship, the judge suggested that both draw a picture with characteristic large eyes right at the meeting. Walter refused, citing shoulder pain. Margaret managed in an hour and won.
The story formed the basis of Tim Burton’s Big Eyes movie, starring Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams, who won the Golden Globe for her game.
Liz Meitner – physicist and radiochemist
Meitner was part of a team that discovered and explained nuclear fission and anticipated its explosive potential. The main award for the works was bypassed by Liz: Otto Gan, with whom they worked together for almost 30 years, received the Nobel Prize in chemistry for the discovery of nuclear fission.
Meitner refused to participate in the development of nuclear weapons. On her gravestone will be written: “Liz Meitner: a physicist who never lost his humanity.”
Microbiologist and geneticist Esther Lederberg
Esther Lederberg was a pioneer of bacterial genetics. But the name of her first husband, Joshua Lederberg, who was a prominent scientist, entered everything in history, and everything they created together was attributed to him.
In 1958, Joshua received the Nobel Prize, and he never mentioned the merits of his wife in the discoveries – neither during the speech, nor at the gala dinner. In the end, they divorced.
After Esther’s death, one Stanford professor will say that she made “an independent, original contribution to the [work] of Joshua’s laboratory … which certainly led him to the Nobel Prize.”