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Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen Hardcover – May 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews


"Jane Hawking’s harrowing and compelling account . . . rings very true."  —Irish Times

"A great read."  —The Daily Mail

"Jane writes about her former husband with tenderness, respect and protectiveness."  —Sunday Express

"This is not a vindictive book, although the agony she went through is palpable; if Stephen’s struggle to keep his mind clear is heroic, so is her determination to balance his escalating needs and those of their three children."  —Independent on Sunday

About the Author

Jane Hawking, who was Stephen Hawking's wife for over 25 years, is a writer, lecturer, and the author of At Home in France.


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 415 pages
  • Publisher: Alma Books; Revised edition (May 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846880343
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846880346
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (306 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,323,294 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

136 of 139 people found the following review helpful By John D. Cofield TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 7, 2014
Format: Paperback
This is the memoir upon which the beautiful movie The Theory of Everything is based. This is the story of the early life and first marriage of the multiple award winning physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking told by his first wife, Jane. Most of the world is aware that Hawking is a victim of Lou Gehrig's Disease, but few (fortunately) understand what that struggle entails for the victim and his loved ones. Jane Hawking does us an enormous service by describing how she, Stephen, their three children, their extended family and friends, and the larger world coped (or failed to cope) with the demands of a chronic, debilitating illness.

When Jane met Stephen in the early 1960s he was already beginning to suffer the early effects of his illness. Jane married him in 1965 aware that he was predicted to live no more than two years. Improbably, he not only lived but was able to develop his revolutionary theories on black holes, write a best selling book, and travel widely. Much of the credit for his flourishing career must go to Jane's extraordinary devotion and ingenuity, which is even more remarkable when we learn that she earned her own doctorate in Spanish medieval poetry at the same time she kept her husband alive and raised three happy, healthy, children.

Jane's story is an intensely moving and always interesting one. She describes the issues of dealing with a loved one's chronic illness on top of the normal difficulties of keeping a marriage and family going, giving credit where it is due to the many people who assisted her and also assiging blame where it is needed: unresponsive bureaucrats, caregivers who are anything but,and well meaning but clueless busybodies.
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148 of 158 people found the following review helpful By STEPHEN PLETKO on October 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover

"While everyone else was praising his [Dr. Stephen Hawking's] courage [since S. Hawking is seriously disabled by a motor neuron disease called ALS, commonly labeled Lou Gehrig's disease] and brilliance [in theoretical physics]...she [the organizer of this event honoring S. Hawking] had said to herself that there must be someone equally courageous behind him or he simply would not be here."

The above is found in this interesting, extremely well written and sometimes humorous book authored by Dr. Jane Hawking who was Stephen Hawking's wife for more than twenty-five years.

Be aware that this book "is a heavily revised version (with new material) of [J. Hawking's 1999 book or memoir called] `Music to the Stars.'" Hawking herself calls this book "the abridged version of the original memoir."

I chose the quotation that begins this review because it's absolutely true! She saw S. Hawking progress from a person that could walk with a cane and talk to a person that became wheelchair bound and eventually could not talk. (He now uses a speech synthesizer.) Through this period of time, she had to oversee and arrange for his 24/7, 365 days a year care that, as chronicled in this book, was an enormous task fraught with hardship and economic difficulty. This was made even more difficult when the Hawking children eventually came along since she was stretched to the limit. At one point, she even had to make a life and death decision! Despite the hardships, she was no slouch. She earned a Ph.D. in Spanish medieval linguistics!

She also saw his meteoric rise to fame after the publication of his 1988 book "A Brief History of Time." Even though there was no financial difficulty now, she still had to be concerned with his care.
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61 of 64 people found the following review helpful By donna c. marttila on November 4, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It was a joy to read a real book about a real family struggling w disability. So well written. Tho it may seem a bit slow at first, one quarter into it and you r immersed in this family, this marriage. The writer gets across her overwhelming struggle without ever diminishing her husband. She shows utmost respect toward him and her marriage but her daily schedule and logistics tell one everything. Her husband remained in control of the household, family, financial, caregiving decisions while participating in none of the cerebral or physical labor involved. As Stephen Hawking pronounced this book "broadly true" I am in awe of how Jane Hawking kept her sanity and her health. As the wife of a paralyzed brain trauma patient who has lived at home for 22 years, has been included in every major decision and family/social event but has seen the work involved by his wife and made sure there was a cleaning service, garden service, time away for wife to recharge and done all in his power to maintain my health and sanity, I have no idea how this woman managed as long as she she did with as little as she had. Yet, her respect for her husband never falters and there is zero blame placed at his feet. Movie is based on this book and it's a fine read.
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55 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Noah Nason on December 31, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a fan of Steven and have read his books. which almost make time travel and black holes understandable for the rest of us.
I wanted to know more about Steven. Jane told her story from their meeting as undergraduates in the early 60s thru their divorce in 1990 with a short Postlude in 2007. Told from her first person point of view, it is both extremely complimentary and quite non-complimentary of Steven. I found the story very revealing about managing an extremely debilitating illness from the primary caregiver point of view.
I also found the details about life in England fascinating for an American. Slow in the beginning I had a hard time putting the book down towards the end.
Jane must either have a very good memory, written lots of letters, or had a diary, as the details in the book are quite extraordinary. I thought back to how I might write such a biography and lamented I don't have the memory, diary, or many letters to refer to. I think social media, emails, and the phone have killed letter writing. So this book did make me think about my past and how I might document it.
If you want to know the family details of Steven and Jane and what middle-class England was like in the 60/70/80s, read this book
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