Despite having the highest grades in his graduating class at the Zurich Polytechnic, Einstein was unable to find a job after graduation. It was understood that such a student would become the assistant to one of the professors there, but thanks to Einstein’s having failed to attend class and an impudence that came off as arrogant, even the professors who had originally recognized and reveled in his peculiar genius refused to hire him. Eventually he suspected them of sabotaging his efforts to get work elsewhere. At last his friend Grossman was able to secure him a position in the patent office in
Meanwhile, his relationship with a Serbian classmate, Mileva Maric, a woman nearly his equal in her passion for physics, had grown to the point of sexual intimacy. She became pregnant and returned to her home in
Mileva eventually became Einstein’s wife and they had two sons together, both recognized, but this little girl Lieserl–? She was delivered at Mileva’s parents’ home in
Is she healthy, and does she cry properly? Einstein wrote back. What are her eyes like? Which one of us does she more resemble? Who is giving her milk? Is she hungry? She must be completely bald. I love her so much and don’t even know her yet? Yet this love did not inspire him to make the train trip to visit her, and when Mileva turned up later to be married, she did not bring Lieserl. No one knew of this baby’s existence until the letters turned up in 1986.
What became of the baby? This remains a mystery, despite the efforts of Michele Zackheim, author of Einstein’s Daughter, a memoir Zackheim’s journey to uncover her whereabouts. Several theories seem likely. Lieserl may have been sent to Maric’s close friend, Helene Kaufler Savic, who had lived in the same rooming house in
So, what to do with this? If the story frames itself later in the life of the principals, these could be flashbacks. Or, I can imagine the scene told from Maric’s father’s POV. The Maric parents had received a hostile letter from Einstein’s mother, as she opposed the marriage. Imagine receiving a letter from the mother of your daughter’s fiance, deriding your daughter? What would become of that letter when your daughter turned up at home, pregnant with a child whose father couldn’t be bothered to come visit? This would involve researching Maric’s parentsSerbs who were somewhat wealthy by the standard of the day and regionwealthy enough to send their brilliant daughter to college in an era when women were not educated. Mileva was the only woman in Einstein’s class.