January 15 marks the 169th anniversary of the birth of the first woman professor and corresponding member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences in Russia Sophia Kovalevskaya … Her mathematical abilities were legendary, but her calculations in her personal life ended in complete collapse. A fictitious marriage, concluded with the aim of breaking free from the care of parents, gave true love, but did not bring happiness: her husband committed suicide. In addition, in Russia, the mathematical genius of Kovalevskaya was not needed, and professional implementation had to be sought abroad.
Perhaps there is nothing surprising in the fact that the future genius of mathematics was born precisely in this family: Sophia's maternal grandfather, Fyodor Schubert, was a famous mathematician, and his great-grandfather was an astronomer and surveyor. Sophia Korvin-Krukovskaya later said about herself as follows: “I inherited a passion for science from an ancestor, the Hungarian king Matthew Korvin; love of mathematics, music, poetry - from the maternal grandfather, astronomer Schubert; personal freedom - from Poland; from a gypsy great-grandmother - love of vagrancy and inability to obey accepted customs; everything else is from Russia."
Sisters Anna and Sophia Korvin-Krukovsky received a good education from private teachers, but there was no question of continuing it at the university - at that time women did not have such an opportunity. Sophia's extraordinary mathematical abilities were noticed by her father's friend, physics professor N. Tyrtov, who called the girl "the new Pascal" and persuaded Korvin-Krukovsky to let his daughter continue her education. This was possible only abroad, and in order to leave it was necessary to obtain the consent of the parents. The father, however, dreamed that his daughters would marry successfully and not toil with "scientific foolishness."
As a result, sisters Anna and Sophia organized a real conspiracy: they decided to enter into fictitious marriages in order to get the opportunity to go abroad - in this case, the father's permission was not required. A young scientist Vladimir Kovalevsky agreed to help Sophia in this matter, whom she married at the age of 18. A year later, her dreams came true: she went abroad and became a student of lectures in mathematics at the University of Heidelberg.
In Germany, she met with the famous mathematician of the time, Karl Weierstass, who agreed to give her lessons. Kovalevskaya became his favorite student, and until the end of her days she sent him all her works for review. At the age of 24, Sophia defended her doctoral dissertation in mathematics and received her Ph. D. Since there were no prospects to stay in Germany as a teaching position, Kovalevskaya decided to return to Russia.
However, at home, she was in for a big disappointment: she was offered only the position of a teacher of arithmetic in the elementary grades of a female gymnasium, to which she could not agree. Sophia had to forget about science for a while. At this time, her fictitious marriage grew into a real one: at first, the girl, who had initially ignored her husband's courtship, suddenly realized that she also had warm feelings for him. Vladimir Kovalevsky left his studies in paleontology and went into business. At the age of 28, Sophia gave birth to a daughter and devoted herself entirely to caring for her.
Family concerns very soon bored her, and she started organizing the Higher Courses for Women. Sophia never got permission to teach, her husband went bankrupt and squandered his wife's inheritance. Every day, the spouses became more and more distant from each other, having lost mutual understanding. Morally broken, in 1883 Vladimir Kovalevsky committed suicide. Until the end of her days, Sophia blamed herself for this.
At the age of 33, Sophia, together with her 5-year-old daughter, left Russia again. She managed to get a teaching position at Stockholm University. Here "Professor Sonya", as her colleagues called her, not only reads lectures and writes scientific works, but also publishes stories and stories. Her scientific works were awarded prizes by the Paris and Swedish Academies of Sciences, after which her talent was finally recognized at home: Kovalevskaya was elected a corresponding member at the Physics and Mathematics Department of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
At 38, Sophia met her last love. He was a distant relative of her husband and also bore the surname Kovalevsky. They decided to get married, but the wedding never took place: in 1891, Sophia fell ill with pneumonia and on January 29 suddenly died at the age of 41. Her daughter graduated from medical school, translated her mother's work from Swedish, and lived to see the time when it became common for women to receive a Ph. D. degree in Russia.
Life was full of hardships and personal dramas and first female Nobel laureate Marie Curie