All they wanted was the chance to shine.
Be careful what you wish for…
‘The first thing we asked was, “Does this stuff hurt you?” And they said, “No.” The company said that it wasn’t dangerous, that we didn’t need to be afraid.’
As the First World War spread across the world, young American women flocked to work in factories, painting clocks, watches and military dials with a special luminous substance made from radium. It was a fun job, lucrative and glamorous – the girls shone brightly in the dark, covered head to toe in dust from the paint.
However, as the years passed, the women began to suffer from mysterious and crippling illnesses. It turned out that the very thing that had made them feel alive – their work – was slowly killing them: the radium paint was poisonous.
Their employers denied all responsibility, but these courageous women – in the face of unimaginable suffering – refused to accept their fate quietly, and instead became determined to fight for justice.
Drawing on previously unpublished diaries, letters and interviews, The Radium Girls is an intimate narrative of an unforgettable true story. It is the powerful tale of a group of ordinary women from the Roaring Twenties, who themselves learned how to roar.
'Kate Moore's new book will move, shock and anger you.' * The Big Issue *
`This fascinating social history - one that significantly reflects on the class and gender of those involved - [is] Catherine Cookson meets Mad Men . . . The importance of the brave and blighted dial-painters cannot be overstated.' * Sunday Times *
`Thrilling and carefully crafted.' * Mail on Sunday *
`Heartfelt.' * Sunday Telegraph *
`Kate Moore . . . writes with a sense of drama that carries one through the serpentine twists and turns of this tragic but ultimately uplifting story.' * The Spectator *
`Fascinating yet tragic.' * The Sun *
`Heartbreaking . . . what this book illustrates brilliantly is that battling for justice against big corporations isn't easy.' * BBC Radio 4, Woman's Hour *
`A perfect blend of the historical, the scientific and the personal, this richly detailed book sheds a whole new light on this unique element and the role it played in changing workers' rights. The Radium Girls makes it impossible for you to ignore these women's incredible stories, and proves why now, more than ever, we can't afford to ignore science, either.' * Bustle *
`Carefully researched, the work will stun readers with its descriptions of the glittering artisans who, oblivious to health dangers, twirled camel-hair brushes to fine points using their mouths.' * Publishers Weekly *
`Moore's harrowing but humane story describes the struggle of a few brave women who took their case to court in a fight for justice that is still resonant today.' * Saga *
`Kate Moore's The Radium Girls tells the story of a cohort of women who made history by entering the workforce at the dawn of a new scientific era . . . Moore sheds new light on a dark chapter in American labour history; the radium girls . . . live again in her telling.' -- Megan Marshall, Pulitzer Prize-winning author
`Kate Moore's gripping narrative about the betrayal of the radium girls - gracefully told and exhaustively researched - makes this a non-fiction classic. Moore's compassion for her subjects and her story-telling prowess . . . bring alive a shameful era in America's industrial history.' -- Rinker Buck, author of The Oregon Trail