Radium Halos, A Novel about the Radium Dial Painters

General Fiction

By Shelley Stout

Publisher : Librifiles Publishing

ABOUT Shelley Stout

Shelley Stout
Originally from Annandale, Virginia, Shelley Stout resides in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she enjoys spending time with her two grown sons. She also enjoys volunteering at a local homeless shelter. Shelley is a contributing writer for Charlotte area magazines, and her award-winning fi More...



Radium Halos is historical fiction based on the true events of the Radium Girls: a group of female factory workers who, in the early 1920s, contracted radiation poisoning from painting luminous watch and clock dials with radium paint. Our narrator is Helen Waterman, a 65-year-old mental patient who worked at the factory when she was 16. She tells us her story through flashbacks, slowly revealing her past, the loved ones she’s lost, and the dangerous secrets she’s kept all these years.

In the early 20th century, radium was considered a miracle cure-all. Doctors prescribed it for many ailments, and patients believed it was safe. In the 1920s, young women factory workers in Ottawa, IL, painted the numbers on luminous watch and clock dials with paint made from radium. They were taught to dip their brush tips into the paint, and then for a sharp point, place it between their lips. Scores of women died from this practice. This is their story.

Batt Humphreys, former senior producer for CBS News and author of Dead Weight:

"Shelley Stout debuts with a novel of characters as compelling as the true story it covers. Like a good reporter, she follows the facts. In this case she not only uncovers a story little known, but more importantly she reveals in her characters, the humanity of a tragic tale."

Red Adept's Kindle Book Review Blog

"5 Stars......this was a novel to tug at the heart."

The Historical Novel Review

"At turns humorous, feisty, and heartrendingly childlike, [main character] Helen’s narrative voice is powerfully blunt."