Skip to main content
Stephen William Hawking, attending an anti-war demo at Trafalgar Square in London on the 22nd February 2002

A Brief History of Stephen Hawking

Image Credit: Koca Vehbi / | Above: Stephen William Hawking, attending an anti-war demo at Trafalgar Square in London on the 22nd February 2002

World renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, famous for his groundbreaking work with black holes and relativity, and author of 'A Brief History of Time', has passed away today at the age of 76. We journey back to look at the life and legacy of science's brightest star.

"I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I'm not afraid of death, but I'm in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first."

  • Born 8 January 1942 in Oxford, England
  • In 1962, graduates with honours in natural science from Oxford University and goes onto attend Cambridge University to study cosmology
  • During his first year at Cambridge is diagnosed with early stages of the degenerative nerve disorder ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) and is given just two years to live

"By losing the finer dexterity of my hands, I was forced to travel through the universe in my mind and try to visualize the ways in which it worked."

  • Marries first wife Jane Wilde, a languages undergraduate in 1965
  • Between 1967-1979 they would have three children together

"My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all."

  • Hawking demonstrates that matter, in the form of radiation, can escape the gravitational force of a collapsed star, proving that black holes are not completely black. 'Hawking radiation' theory is born and Hawking is turned into a celebrity
  • In 1979, Hawking becomes Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University - a position dating back to 1663 and one of teaching's most renowned posts
  • In 1985, Hawking looses his voice for good following a tracheotomy. By the following year, he's communicating through an electronic voice synthesizer created by a California computer programmer

  • In 1988, Hawking publishes "A Brief History of Time", which goes on to sell over 10 million copies and is translated into 35 different languages
  • In 2014 Eddie Redmayne plays Hawking in the Oscar-winning biopic "The Theory of Everything."

  • Hawking passes away peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of March 14 2018