Celebrating Stephen Hawking


Stephen Hawking was born on 8th January 1942 in Oxford to parents Frank and Isobel. His parents’ families had struggled financially yet were able to send them both to the University of Oxford where Frank studied Medicine and Isobel read Philosophy, Politics and Economics. As well as Stephen, they had two daughters (Philippa and Mary) and later adopted a son (Edward).


As a child, Stephen Hawking was fascinated with the world beyond ours. He was diagnosed with a disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at the age of 21 which gradually paralysed him over time by restricting voluntary muscle movements such as chewing, walking and talking.


It was as an astrophysics student at the University of Cambridge that he began to develop a romantic relationship with fellow student Jane Wilde. They had 3 children together but divorced after thirty years’ marriage in 1995. Jane believed he was cheating on her with his nurse and then later wife, Elaine Mason.


"Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet" - Stephen Hawking

Mason and Hawking were married in late 1995 but divorced in 2006. “It would not be much of a universe if it wasn't home to the people you love.” As an astrophysicist, he applied physics and chemistry to explain the birth, life and death of stars, galaxies and nebulae. “One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don't throw it away.”


Hawking was so certain that time travel was impossible that, in 2009, he hosted a party for time travellers. No one turned up. That was the point. Hawking sadly passed away on 14th March 2018, aged 76.


A tribute was made to Hawking at the 2018 Paralympic winter games opening by IPC President Andrew Parsons. Cambridge's Gonville and Caius College flew flags at half-mast and a book of condolences was signed by students and visitors.


On Friday 15th June, celebrities including David Walliams and Benedict Cumberbatch attended a memorial to Hawking at Westminster Abbey as his ashes were laid to rest between Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. Afterwards, a recording of his voice was broadcast into space, a fitting symbol of the impact he has had on the world: his academic contributions to science will be celebrated and studied for many years to come.