Who Was Mileva Einstein-Maric?
Mileva Einstein-Maric attended the Zurich Polytechnic School where she met Albert Einstein. Maric became pregnant and the couple married while Einstein was working for the Zurich patent office. She bore him two more children while Einstein did his most famous work. They divorced in 1916 and Mileva received Einstein's Nobel Prize money. She died in 1948.
Early Life & Education
Mileva Einstein-Maric was born in 1875 in Titel, Austria-Hungary (now Serbia). Maric came from a fairly affluent family of Serbian descent. Well educated, she was allowed to attend an all-boys’ school in Zagreb as a teenager. Maric excelled at mathematics and physics. Later, she went to Switzerland to continue her studies.
After finishing her secondary studies in 1896, Maric enrolled at the University of Zurich. She only stayed there briefly, transferring to the Zurich Polytechnic School (later the Swiss Federal Institute or Technology or the ETH). Among her friends at university was Albert Einstein. They shared a love of science.
Relationship with Albert Einstein
Initially, Maric did well in her courses. She spent a semester in Heidelberg, Germany. While she was away, Maric began corresponding with Einstein. He nicknamed her “Dollie” and urged her to come back soon. Their friendship turned into a relationship after her return. While her parents accepted the match, Einstein’s parents opposed their relationship. They did not like the fact that Maric was several years older than him and was from a different religious and cultural background.
While her relationship flourished with Einstein, Maric struggled in her studies. She failed her final exams in 1900. Einstein graduated that year and looked for work. Staying on Zurich, Maric worked in a lab and prepared to retake her tests. But again her efforts were met with failure. Around this time, Maric discovered that she was pregnant with Einstein’s child.
Living with her family, Maric gave birth to their daughter, Lieserl, in early 1902. Stories vary as what happened to her. Some say that the girl was eventually given up for adoption. The last known mention of her is in a 1903 letter, which indicated that she had scarlet fever.
Einstein and Maric reunited in 1903. They married in Bern, Switzerland, on January 6, in a simple ceremony at the town hall. At the time, Einstein was working for the patent office there. The next year the couple welcomed their first son, Hans Albert.
It is unclear what role Maric played in Einstein’s work. While at the patent office, he spent much of his off time from work studying physics and working on theories. In 1905, Einstein published a series of papers, which became known as his greatest works. It was during this time that he introduced his theory of relativity and the famed formula, E=mc2.
The couple welcomed a second son, Eduard, in 1910. The next year, the Einstein family moved to Prague where Albert became a professor at the German University. They did not stay long. Einstein became a professor at the ETH in Zurich in 1912. Around this time, Einstein also became involved with his cousin, Elsa Lowenthal. The two corresponded for some time before Einstein took two positions in Berlin, where Lowenthal lived, in 1914.
Maric and her children moved to Berlin to be with Einstein that year. But she took the children back to Switzerland after only a few months. Einstein asked her for a divorce in 1916. After World War I, their divorce was finalized. Part of their agreement was that Maric was to receive the monetary award of the Nobel Prize if he ever won one. Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921 and Maric was given the prize money.
Life after Einstein was difficult for Maric. She ran a boardinghouse for a time and gave lessons to make ends meet. In 1930, Maric was dealt a devastating blow when her son Eduard suffered a mental breakdown. He was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent the rest of his life in institutions. Her other son, Hans Albert, moved to the United States with his family in 1938. He joined the faculty of the University of California in 1947. Maric died in 1948.
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