On January 15, 1850 in Moscow, Russia, Sofia Vasilyevna Kovalevskaya was born as the second child of Vasily Korvin-Krukovsky and Velizavela Shubert, both well-educated members of Russian nobility. Sofia was educated by tutors and governesses in her family's country estate in Palabino and St. Petersburg. Sofia became interested in mathematics at a very young age. Her uncle, Pyotr Vasilievich Krukovsky, spoke about mathematics to her. When Sofia was 11 years old, her nursery walls were covered with the pages of Ostrogradski's lecture notes on differential and integral analysis. She recognized parts of the papers that her uncle had mentioned. The papers were her introduction into calculus.
Under the family's tutor, Y I Malevich, Sofia undertook her first proper mathematical studies. She began to enjoy mathematics so much that she neglected her other studies. Her father then put a stop to her mathematics lessons, but she borrowed a copy of Bourdeu's Algebra and read it at night as her family slept. She was later forced to marry so that she could study abroad, but her father would not allow her to heave home. At this time, Russian women couldn't live away from home without the consent from their father and husband. At the age of 18, she entered a normal marriage to a young paleontologist named Vladimir Kovaleski. The marriage caused problems for Sofia and her concentration was hindered by their frequent quarrels. By the age of 24, Sofia had already written three papers on partial differential equations, abelian integrals, and Saturn's rings that were all deemed worthy of a doctorate. In 1874, Sofia was granted her doctorate, summa cum laude, from Gottingen University in Germany. Despite her doctorate and strong recommendation letters, she was unable to get a job because of her sex.
In 1878, Kovalevskaya gave birth to a daughter and in the spring of 1883, Vladimir, from whom she had been separated for two years, committed suicide. She then immersed herself in mathematics to rid herself of the guilt that she felt. She became the third person to hold a chair at a European university in June 1889. She taught analysis courses and became an editor of Acta Mathematica, a mathematical journal. Kovalevskaya won a prize from the Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1889 and was elected a corresponding member of the Imperial Academy of Sciences. Her last published work was a short article in which she gave a simpler proof of Bruns' theorem on a property of the potential function of a homogeneous body. In 1891, at the height of her reputation, Kovalevskaya died of influenza complicated by pneumonia in Stockholm, Sweden at the age of 41.