Stephen Hawking is a renowned physicist and mathematician who has become well known around the world for his theories and publications on relativity and on black holes. Now 70 years old, Hawking has battled with motor neurone disease for more than 40 years, making his achievements an even greater marvel. The man, renowned by many as being a scientific genius, has studied at Oxford and Cambridge University and later went on to take the post of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the latter.

Stephen Hawking’s Childhood

Hawking’s parents moved to Oxford during World War II for the last months of his mother’s pregnancy. They remained here until 1950 when his father was awarded the post of the head of parasitology at the National Institute for Medical Research in St Albans. Here, young Stephen studied at St Albans High School for Girls, which accepted boys until they were aged 10. From the age of 11 Hawking attended St Albans School.

During his early educational life, Stephen Hawking was described as being a good student but was not considered to be exceptional. It was here, however, that he developed his love for mathematics and to this day he credits maths teacher Dikarn Tahta as being one of his inspirations. It was for this reason that he wished to study Mathematics at University but it was not to be.

Higher Education

Hawking’s father has persuaded him to study at University College, Oxford where he had studied. However, as there was no Mathematics fellow it meant that young Stephen had to pick a different topic. He opted for natural sciences with a concentration on Physics. While his intelligence was evident during this time he again did not excel and, having attained a borderline score between a first and second class degree, was forced to complete an oral examination to achieve his first.

Having left Oxford with his B.A, Stephen Hawking went to complete his graduate work at Trinity Hall, Cambridge but it was here that he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and given only two to three years to live. Initially, he saw no point in continuing with education, and it was only once the disease had stabilised and he had met his wife-to-be Jane Wilde that he completed his study.