Books | Stephen Hawking – My Brief History

“Physics was always the most boring subject at school because it was so easy and obvious. Chemistry was much more fun because unexpected things, such as explosions, kept happening. But physics and astronomy offered the hope of understanding where we came from and why we are here. I wanted to fathom the depths of the universe. Maybe I have succeeded to a small extent, but there’s still plenty I want to know.”

Stephen Hawking’s My Brief History is a fascinating account of a remarkably intelligent man, who despite being faced with Motor Neurone Disease since the age of twenty-one, has become one of the world’s best-known and most successful scientists. You might think that you already know about him, right? That sentence sounds like something from a review of one of Hawking’s previous books that he makes a mockery of in My Brief History. What is strikingly curious about society’s interest in Stephen Hawking is that people appear more inquisitive about his condition and illness, rather than his career as a theoretical physicist. This is something that discussed at length within book, and it is one of the reasons why it is such an engaging read.

Hawking addresses the reader in a very clear and modest way, describing his fascinating life events from childhood to the present day. Whilst he does talk about his personal life and his rather sad two failed marriages, the reader is not given detailed emotional descriptions of such events. He is far keener to explain his devotion to science and physics, rather than to dwell on the sadness of his condition, describing himself as ‘quietly satisfied’ with life. His sense of humour is also apparent; most books about Hawking are quick to mention that he was born exactly three hundred years after the death of Galileo, he takes this fact and amuses himself and the reader by pointing out that about 200,000 babies were probably also born that day!

By writing his own memoir, he has been able to pick up upon everything that we already know about his life, add some humour and show just how much he has achieved through his love and desire to know more about the world.

Alice Burns

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