The Truth About Stephen Hawking's Two Marriages

Stephen Hawking is one of the most famous and accomplished scientists of all time. Per Famous Scientists, he's celebrated for his groundbreaking work that combined Albert Einstein's theory of relativity with quantum mechanics to theorize that black holes lose energy over time and eventually vanish. He continued to contribute to his fields throughout his life and became well known in popular culture, writing the best-selling book "A Brief History of Time" and appearing on television shows like "The Big Bang Theory" and "The Simpsons."

Hawking was born January 8, 1942 in Oxford, England, to biologist Frank and scholar Isobel Walker, both of whom had graduated from the University of Oxford. Hawking was interested in science from a young age and followed in his parents' footsteps, graduating from Oxford at the age of 20. He went on to get his PhD in astronomy and cosmology at the University of Cambridge. While studying at Cambridge, Hawkins was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, ALS is a progressive, fatal disease that causes loss of muscle control.

He also married twice; his first marriage ended when he left his first wife for his nurse. He and his second wife would eventually divorce too. Along with Hawking's genius, universal acclaim, and enormous accomplishments achieved despite a disability requiring constant physical treatment and care, he had a dramatic personal life.

When Stephen met Jane

Doctors predicted Hawking would live for just another two years post-diagnosis. Soon after, he met his first wife, Jane Wilde (shown above in 2018), on a railway platform, as reported by The Independent. Wilde was a teenager at the time, and they married young, according to her, "because we didn't know how long Stephen was going to live." Per the New Zealand Herald, their first child, Robert, was born in 1967, followed by Lucy in 1970, and Timothy in 1979.

The publication of "A Brief History In Time" vaulted Stephen Hawking into a very public spotlight. Jane Hawkins later described that time period in a 2014 interview with Radio Times (quoted in the New Zealand Herald): "I rather felt that the family had been left behind. To me, Stephen was my husband and the father of my children; one does not say to one's husband, 'Oh, you're so clever! I must worship the ground under your feet, or in this case, wheels.'"

The couple's relationship was further complicated by the necessity to bring people into their home to assist Stephen Hawking with his medical needs: "I expected that carers came into the home to help look after the disabled person and respect the rest of the family. Very few of them did that. I was desperate; I didn't think I could carry on, because I was so drained." Stephen and Jane Hawking separated in 1990 after Stephen Hawking began a relationship with his nurse, Elaine Mason. Hawking and Mason married in 1995.

A controversial second marriage

As reported by the Daily Mail, Jane Hawking and her three children didn't attend the wedding of Stephen Hawking and Elaine Mason (shown above in 2002), and Jane was quoted as saying at the time regarding her ex-husband, "I think he has been very ill-advised."

The Daily Mail later interviewed a nurse who had been part of Dr. Hawking's medical and care team who claimed she left her position shortly after his marriage to Mason, telling the reporter, "She is the reason I left. It's the reason everyone leaves. It's impossible to reconcile the way she treated Stephen with the ethics of our profession." Other employees as well as Hawking's friends and colleagues described Elaine's treatment of him over the years as "bullying" and "abusive."

Per the New Zealand Herald, Hawking's children alleged that their stepmother kept them from seeing their father. In a 2004 interview with The Guardian, Jane Hawking described her relationship with her ex-husband: "I never set foot in his house, of course — that is very much forbidden territory. But I used to go and see him in his office, and we used to have a good time, talking about the children and then about William, our grandchild. But I don't even know now whether he is in hospital ... or back at home. The children don't know either."

The Theory of Everything

Things improved between Jane Hawking and Stephen Hawking after his divorce from his second wife in 2005. The story of their relationship has been adapted from Jane's writings twice. Her 1999 memoir "Music To Move The Stars: A Life With Stephen," reviewed by The Independent, described how Jane's interactions with her husband turned "maternal rather than marital" as time went by. This book was used as source material for the 2004 BBC television film "Hawking," as noted by The Guardian.

Jane Hawking published a new version of her book in 2008. Titled "Travelling to Infinity," it was the basis for the 2014 film "The Theory of Everything," which Stephen Hawking pronounced to the "broadly true" upon seeing the movie for the first time, per Entertainment Weekly. Jane and Stephen appeared on red carpets together when the movie premiered, as seen above with actors Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne, who were both nominated for Academy Awards for their roles as the Hawkings, with Redmayne winning the best actor Oscar.

Stephen Hawking died on March 14, 2018, at the age of 76. Per the New Zealand Herald, his three children released a statement reading in part: "He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years ... He once said, 'It would not be much of a universe if it wasn't home to the people you love.' We will miss him forever."