Stephen Hawking Additional Biography


Stephen William Hawking is that rare combination of scientist and celebrity whose writings take the obscure and arcane workings of the universe and make them available to general readers. Born exactly three hundred years after the death of Galileo, Hawking would eventually hold the Lucasian Professorship of Mathematics at Cambridge, the same post once held by Sir Isaac Newton.

Hawking was raised in an educated household. His father, Frank Hawking, researched tropical diseases and, eventually, became the head of parasitology at the British National Institute of Medical Research. Frank married Isobel, a secretary at the institute. In 1941, at the height of World War II, the Hawkings discovered Isobel was pregnant, and they decided to move to Oxford, a city which was safe from the threat of Axis bombing because of a reciprocal agreement between Germany and England intended to spare the university towns of Oxford, Cambridge, Göttingen, and Heidelberg.

In 1950 the Hawkings moved to St. Albans when Frank moved to the Institute for Medical Research in Mill Hill. It was there that Stephen began his schooling at the St. Albans High School for Girls. At eleven he was transferred to St. Albans School for Boys. Hawking’s father wanted Stephen to follow in his footsteps and study medicine. Stephen wanted to study mathematics. However, as he was following his father’s footsteps by studying at Oxford University, he settled for studying chemistry as his primary subject, along with physics, and mathematics as secondary because, at that time, there was no mathematics fellow at Oxford.

In 1959, Hawking won a scholarship to Oxford, where his intuitive understanding of physics allowed him to complete his degree, with honors,...

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Boslough, John. Stephen Hawking’s Universe: An Introduction to the Most Remarkable Scientist of Our Time. New York: Avon, 1996. One of the best of the many works attempting to make Hawking’s work accessible to the general public. Boslough explains Hawking’s concepts without reducing them to absurdity.

Coles, Peter. Hawking and the Mind of God. Cambridge, England: Icon Books, 2000. Coles undertakes two tasks in this work. His first is to discover how Hawking became a celebrity scientist. The second is to analyze what Coles terms the pseudo-religious themes of Hawking’s work.

Ferguson, Kitty. Stephen Hawking: Quest for a Theory of Everything. New York: Bantam, 1992. Considered by many the authoritative biographical work on Hawking.

Hawking, Jane. Music to Move the Stars: A Life with Stephen Hawking. Philadelphia: Trans-Atlantic, 2000. Written by Hawking’s first wife, this book tells the tale of their twenty-five-year marriage and a wife’s struggle to raise three children and care for a husband with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. A unique insight into living with genius.

Strathern, Paul. Hawking and Black Holes. New York: Doubleday, 1998. While focusing on the primary ideas of Hawking’s works, Strathern shows Hawking’s drive and his insight into the workings of the universe.

White, Michael, and John Gribbin. Stephen Hawking: A Life in Science. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 2002. This biography offers a superb blend of information on Hawking’s life and his theories. Particular attention is paid to Hawking’s battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.