Bring back some good or bad memories


January 23, 2015

A Very Dapper Stephen Hawking and His Wife Jane at Their Wedding in 1965

Stephen Hawking met his future wife, Jane Wilde, at a party through mutual college friends in 1962. The following year, Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease. In October 1964, the couple became engaged to marry, aware of the potential challenges that lay ahead due to Hawking’s shortened life expectancy and physical limitations. Hawking later said that the engagement gave him “something to live for.” The two were married on 14 July 1965 in their shared hometown of St Albans. They had three children: Robert, born in 1967, Lucy, born in 1969, and Timothy, born in 1979.

Hawking rarely discussed his illness and physical challenges, even – in a precedent set during their courtship – with Jane. His disabilities meant that the responsibilities of home and family rested firmly on his wife’s increasingly overwhelmed shoulders, leaving him more time to think about physics. Upon his appointment in 1974 to a year-long position at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, Jane proposed that a graduate or post-doctoral student live with them and help with his care. Hawking accepted, and Bernard Carr travelled with them as the first of many students who fulfilled this role. The family spent a generally happy and stimulating year in Pasadena.

Around December 1977, Jane met organist Jonathan Hellyer Jones when singing in a church choir. Hellyer Jones became close to the Hawking family, and by the mid-1980s, he and Jane had developed romantic feelings for each other. According to Jane, her husband was accepting of the situation, stating “he would not object so long as I continued to love him.” Jane and Hellyer Jones determined not to break up the family, and their relationship remained platonic for a long period.

After a tracheotomy in 1985, Hawking required a nurse 24/7 and nursing care was split across 3 shifts daily. In the late 1980s, Hawking grew close to one of his nurses, Elaine Mason, to the dismay of some colleagues, caregivers, and family members, who were disturbed by her strength of personality and protectiveness. In February 1990, Hawking told Jane that he was leaving her for Mason, and departed the family home. After his divorce from Jane in 1995, Hawking married Mason in September, declaring, “It’s wonderful – I have married the woman I love.”

In 1999, Jane Hawking published a memoir, Music to Move the Stars, describing her marriage to Hawking and its breakdown. Its revelations caused a sensation in the media but, as was his usual practice regarding his personal life, Hawking made no public comment except to say that he did not read biographies about himself.

In 2006, Hawking and Mason quietly divorced, and Hawking resumed closer relationships with Jane, his children, and his grandchildren. Reflecting on this happier period, a revised version of Jane’s book, re-titled Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, appeared in 2007, and was made into a film, The Theory of Everything, in 2014.

1 comment:

  1. perhaps you will find interesting to check out this group of pictures and events in Hawking's life




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