In Albert's Shadow: The Life and Letters of Mileva Maric, Einstein's First Wife
JHU Press, 2003 - Biography & Autobiography - 182 pages
Mileva Maric was a remarkable woman by any measure. One of the first women to study physics at a European university, she met and fell in love with a young physicist whose revolutionary theories would shortly transform our understanding of the universe. Mileva's marriage to Albert Einstein and the birth of their three children (the first, Lieserl, was born before the two were married) derailed her career as a physicist. Ensuing marital difficulties also threw Mileva into a severe depression for years after she and Albert separated in 1916 and divorced three years later. The subject of much speculation on the part of Einstein biographers, Mileva's life has remained shrouded in mystery and half-truth.
In Albert's Shadow, a treasure trove of seventy previously unpublished letters and cards written by Mileva to Helene Savic, an intimate friend from her university days, brings Mileva's life and marriage into focus more sharply than ever before. Edited and introduced by Helene Savic's grandson, Milan Popovic, this revealing and often touching epistolatary biography offers a new and less-than-flattering perspective on the private life of Albert Einstein and provides a compelling portrait of a supportive and brilliant woman whose world-famous husband betrayed her deep affections. Deftly placed into their biographical and historical context by Popovic, these letters draw an intriguing picture of intellectual life in Europe at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Through Mileva's letters -- and the notes Albert appended to them -- Popovic charts the course of Mileva's life and her relationship with Albert, from their happy years through their divorce and to Mileva's troubled life after Albert. Mileva's letters describe their mutual infatuation; her strained relations with Albert's parents, who opposed the marriage; and her experiences at university. Shortly after their marriage in 1903, Mileva slowly comes to realize that science has a greater hold on Albert's attention than she does, and her tragic letters to Helene after 1909 lay bare her anguish at his growing distance (a situation made worse by Albert's secret affair with his cousin Elsa). After the divorce, Mileva's letters chronicle the depression with which she struggled for the rest of her life, and describe the lives of her and Albert's two surviving children, the youngest of whom, Eduard, had developed schizophrenia. The letters end in 1940 with Europe at war. Although Helene Savic died four years later, the correspondence she and her family preserved now offer unprecedented insights into the life of the twentieth century's greatest mind and the tragic story of his tormented first wife.