The life of Stephen Hawking has been an incredible one, filled with success and adversity in almost equal measure. Now confined to a wheelchair and forced to speak through a voice synthesizer, the theoretical physician can offer a long list of achievements and noteworthy chapters in his life story. He held the post of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge from 1979 until his retirement in 2009, his book A Brief History of Time spent more than 250 weeks in the bestseller list, and has published numerous pieces on his theories that have met with scientific acclaim.

Stephen Hawking was born on 8th January 1942 in Oxford. Although his parents, Frank and Isobel, were from North London they moved to Oxford to avoid the dangers of the London bombings during World War II. His father was a renowned research biologist who had attended University College in Oxford and this would help forge the young Hawking’s path through his education.

Having been a good student throughout his life, Stephen Hawking had initially wanted to study mathematics at university but was encouraged to follow in his father’s footsteps by attending University College in Oxford. With no mathematics fellow at the university, Hawking instead opted for natural sciences with an emphasis on Physics. He was once again considered a good student, but not an exceptional one and, in fact, had to rely on an oral examination to give him the first class degree he wanted.

Much of his theoretical work was take up with the study of black holes and relativity. He developed the theory that black holes would emit radiation, which has now become known as Hawking radiation.

In 1974, he became one of the youngest Fellows of the Royal Society and also accepted the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholar visiting professorship at Caltech. During the late 70s, the name Stephen Hawking became well known not only in scientific circles but throughout the world; even in popular culture with various documentary appearances. In 1979 he took the post of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge; a post previously held by Sir Isaac Newton and that Hawking would hold until he retired in 2009.