Book details the ‘personal trauma’ of his life with first wife and his ‘passionate’ relationship with nurse
Stephen Hawking has described the anguish triggered by the collapse of his first marriage and the “bitter acrimony” of his second.
The Cambridge cosmologist, who The Independent calls “the most famous scientist in the world”, opened up about his marital life in an autobiography called My Brief History. It details the “personal trauma” of his life with his first wife, Jane Wilde, and his “passionate and tempestuous” relationship with his nurse and second spouse, Elaine Mason.
Hawking met Wilde when they were both students at Oxford University. He says she lifted him out of a deep depression when he was first diagnosed with motor neurone disease, providing hope of a future life and family.
But Wilde also succumbed to depression after the birth of their third child in 1979, finding it “difficult to cope with the demands of a young family and a husband confined to a wheelchair,” The Independent reports. Seeking someone who would marry her and look after her children after Hawking died, she met a musician called Jonathan Jones and “installed” him in a room in the apartment she shared with Hawking.
“I would have objected, but I too was expecting an early death and felt I needed someone to support the children when I was gone,” writes Hawking in My Brief History.
The situation gradually deteriorated. “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,” writes Hawking.
He describes his relationship with Mason – whom he married in 1995 and divorced 12 years later – as “passionate and tempestuous”. In 2004, the Daily Mail reported that police had questioned Hawking about claims that his second wife was abusing him. One of his nurses alleged that Elaine Hawking called her husband a cripple, bathed him in water that was too hot and allowed him to wet himself.
At the time, Hawking described the allegations as “completely false”, a position he reiterates in My Brief History. He admits that he and Elaine had their “ups and downs”, but says her medical training “saved my life” on more than one occasion.
In his book, Hawking reveals how he bought the last three speech synthesisers made by the Californian company Speech Plus when it went bust. He snapped up the devices as back-ups because “I identify with the voice and it has become my trademark”.
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