Blanche Wittmann was admitted as a young patient to the psychiatric clinic at the Salpètriére Hospital in Paris. Her doctor was J M Charcot, renowned throughout the world as the first doctor to use hypnotism in the treatment of women who suffered what was then called hysteria. Among the visitors to his public seances were August Strindberg, Axel Munthe and the young Freud.
When Charcot died, Blanche got better and started working as an assistant to the Polish-French Nobel laureate Marie Curie. They became very close and Blanche knew of Marie’s misfortune when her love affair with a married colleague Paul Langevin caused a scandal at the same time as Marie received her second Nobel Prize for her discovery of radium. Blanche died in 1913, seriously injured by the radiation she had been subjected to.