Physicist Stephen Hawking has died at age 76.
Hawking’s family released a statement early Monday morning confirming that Stephen had passed away at his home in Cambridge. In a statement, his children said, “We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today.”
When he was diagnosed with ALS at age 21, Hawking was given only two years to survive. He defied the odds, however, and went on to make some of the most revolutionary discoveries in scientific history. The famed academic was known for his work with black holes and relativity. He was also the first person to propose a theory of cosmology by combining the general theory of relativity with quantum mechanics.
Read on to learn more about Stephen Hawking’s family.
1. He Is Survived by His Three Children
Hawking is survived by his three children: his son, Robert, born May 1967, his daughter, Lucy, born 1970, and his third child, Timothy, born 1979.
According to The Guardian, Hawking’s children said of their father after his passing, “He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years. His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world.”
They added on, “He once said, ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’”
Robert, the eldest son, is a British software engineer for Microsoft, according to Article Bio. And although he is British, he is believed to live in Seattle with his wife and two children.
Timothy, meanwhile, studied Spanish at Exeter University. Newsweek reports that Timothy discussed his father’s condition in a rare interview in 2015. The outlet reports him as saying, “My dad was able to speak with his own, natural voice for those first years, but it was incredibly difficult to understand what he was saying — particularly for me at such a young age… As a 3-year-old, I had no understanding of what he was saying. I didn’t really have any communication with him for the first five years of my life.”
2. His Daughter Lucy Is a Prolific Writer & Educator
Hawking’s daughter Lucy, who is now 47, is a successful journalist, novelist, educator, and philanthropist. At the University of Oxford, Lucy spent her time studying French and Russian. After graduating, she went on to study international journalism at City, University of London. Lucy has written for New York Magazine, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph, The Times and The Guardian.
There is little she doesn’t do. Growing up, Lucy helped take care of her father. She published her first novel, Jaded, in 2004, which was followed by Run for Your Life in 2005.
Many of her books have focused on teaching children to engage with science. In the world of philanthropy, Lucy is the Vice President of the National Star College, along with a trustee of the Autism Research Fund.
In an interview on The Today Show, Lucy was asked what it was like growing up as the daughter of the world’s most famous physicist. She said, “… The fame didn’t arrive until the publication of “A Brief History of Time,” by which time I was in my late teens… What was most striking was the high level of attention his electric wheelchair attracted. I suppose that in the 1970s, it was quite unusual to see a disabled person drive himself around in a wheelchair. People really did stop and stare… One big contribution my father has made is to show that having a disability does not bar you from leading a full and eventful life. His recent Zero Gravity flight and plans to go into space show that the sky is literally the limit, as far as he is concerned!”
3. He Has Two Younger Sisters and an Adopted Brother
Stephen Hawking was born on January 8, 1942, in Oxford, Oxfordshire. His father, Frank Hawking, and his mother Isobel Hawking, both graduated from the University of Oxvord. They met at a medical research institute at the beginning of World War II. Isobel was working as a secretary while Frank was working as a medical researcher. In 1950, Stephen’s father became the head of parasitology at the National Institute of Research, and the entire family moved to St. Albans, Hertfordshire.
Hawking has two younger sisters, Philippa and Mary, and an adopted brother, Edward. Mary was born just 18 months after Stephen. Philippa was born when he was five, and Edward was adopted when Stephen was 14. Discussing his brother in his book My Brief History, Hawking says, “My brother, Edward, was adopted much later, when I was 14, so he hardly entered my childhood at all. He was very different from the other three children, being completely non-academic and non-intellectual, which was probably good for us.”
In the book, Hawking writes that his father was against him specializing in math and physics because he thought there wouldn’t be enough jobs for him. Luckily, Stephen won a scholarship to Oxord to study physics.
4. His First Wife Wrote the Book That ‘the Theory of Everything’ Is Based On
Hawking was married to Jane Wilde from 1965 to 1995. Wilde was a friend of his sister, and they met about one month before Hawking was diagnosed with motor neuron disease at age 21. The pair became engaged in 1964 and were married on July 14, 1965. In his book My Brief History, Hawking writes, “I found to my surprise I was enjoying life. What made the difference was that I got engaged to a girl called Jane Wilde, whom I’d met about the time I was diagnosed with motor neurone disease. This gave me something to live for.”
In 2015, Jane opened up about her 26-year marriage to Hawking. “When Stephen was first diagnosed, we weren’t actually going out together, but I was already falling in love with him,” she told the Telegraph. “He had beautiful eyes and this amazing sense of humor, so we were always laughing. Also, I was young and had lots of energy and optimism and that did make a difference. But most importantly I loved Stephen and wanted to do my best for him. So I thought that I could easily devote two years of my life to help somebody I loved – someone who had so much potential – achieve his ambitions.”
Jane admits that fame became overwhelming over the years, not only for her but for Stephen’s entire family. She tells The Telegraph that after Stephen published A Brief History of Time, matters became even worse. “It drew all sorts of people into our circle and really made our home life intolerable.”
Although he went on to marry nurse Elaine Mason, Jane and Stephen remained good friends. “Our marriage was a great success. Stephen achieved what he wanted to achieve, we kept going for a very long time, and we had three wonderful children together. I feel a great deal of admiration – and a lot of love for him too. It’s not the same kind of passionate love as before, but yes, I do still love him.”
Jane’s book, Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, was the inspiration for the film The Theory of Everything.
5. His Second Wife Was One of His Nurses
In the late 1980s, Hawking grew close to one of his nurses, Elaine Mason. In February 1990, he left his family to be with Mason. He and Jane officially divorced in the spring of 1995, and he married Mason the following September.
Jane had met an organist in the mid-1980s named Jonathon Hellyer Jones who she went on to marry one year after Stephen wed Elaine.
In My Brief History, Hawking writes, “I started to become more and more unhappy about the increasingly close relationship between Jane and Jonathan. In the end, I could stand the situation no longer, and in 1990 I moved out to a flat with one of my nurses, Elaine Mason. Elaine and I got married in 1995. Nine months later Jane married Jonathan Jones.”
As to the question of whether or not Stephen believes he led a good life, he writes, “When I was 21 and contracted motor neuron disease, I felt it was very unfair.”Why should this happen to me? At the time, I thought my life was over and that I’d never realized the potential I felt I had. But now, 50 years later, I can be quietly satisfied with my life. I’ve been married twice and have three beautiful, accomplished children. I’ve been successful in my scientific career: I think most theoretical physicists would agree that my prediction of quantum emission from black holes is correct, though it has not so far earned me a Nobel Prize. It has been a glorious time to be alive. I’m happy if I have added something to our understanding of the universe.”