Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76, after spending most of his life confined to a wheelchair from debilitating ALS. His genius was known around the world and he forever changed our knowledge of physics and the world around us. Hawking was diagnosed with ALS in 1963, and he passed away peacefully in his home, possibly from complications of ALS. He leaves behind three children, including his talented daughter Lucy Hawking, who is an accomplished writer. Here’s everything you need to know about Lucy Hawking.
1. As a Child, She Often Translated His Speech To Her Friends
When Lucy was a child, she’d often see other children staring when her dad accompanied her to the ice-cream van, and she hated it, she told Evening Standard. She always had compassion for her dad, but she hated how their stares might have made him feel. But she was never bullied by other kids because of her dad’s condition. “I felt quite normal even though I knew my home life was different from my friends.”
When his speech started to go, she’d translate his words to her friends. She never saw her dad walk, but they also never really talked about that either. She was always worried that he would die soon and would find herself crying about it. “We lived life in the present tense.” And they had routines. Every Sunday they played board games or went for walks.
2. She Studied Journalism But Quickly Realized Her Passion Was With Children’s Books
Lucy was born in England in 1970, and she’s the daughter of Stephen and his first wife, Jane Wilde Hawking. For the majority of her childhood, she grew up in Cambridge. She studied French and Russian at the University of Oxford, and also spent time in Moscow as part of her Russian studies. She then studied international journalism at City, University of London. Although she enjoyed journalism, she realized that this was not what she wanted to do with her life.
Lucy is a very talented writer, and has gained extensive recognition as a children’s novelist and science educator. While she tried to break into the writing industry, she worked as a journalist to support herself, writing for numerous publications including The Telegraph and The Guardian. But she always wanted to be an author.
Lucy’s first two books were “Jaded” and “Run for Your Life.” But after this, she transitioned to focusing on children’s novels that focused on science. She and her dad wrote a book together in 2007: “George’s Secret Key to the Universe.” It was about a boy who was able to use a computer-generated portal to travel through the solar system. She wrote more books in the series, and later went on to help produce an education project promoting science to children.
3. She Checked Into a Rehabilitation Clinic in 2004 for Depression and Alcohol
Lucy spent a great deal of time as a young adult caring for her father, and she always worried about him and only wanted the best for him. She said that before he was rich and famous, she and her brothers and Jane always looked out for him, but they grew apart for a number of years after his fame.
But when he ended his marriage to her mother in 1995 and later married his nurse, Elaine Mason, she became worried, Daily Mail reported. There were stories that Mason was abusive, and Lucy reported her own fears on the matter to the authorities. However, her dad always denied the allegations. Vanity Fair reported on the situation in 2004. In 1999, Lucy went to the authorities over concerns about her dad having a fractured wrist, thinking it was caused by Elaine, but he wouldn’t discuss it. She told Vanity Fair: “I went to see a lawyer and discussed the matter with him. And as the law stood at the time, my father was the only person who could make a complaint. And he didn’t want to make a complaint.” Her father asked her not to interfere in his relationship.
He and Elaine divorced in 2006. But that wasn’t the only pressure that Lucy faced. In 2004 after her son was born and she and her husband divorced, she checked into a rehabilitation clinic in Arizona for treatment for depression and alcohol. She told Evening Standard: “I was in a state of full-on mental and physical decline. My father was in intensive care and everything got too much for me. I just couldn’t see how I could get myself better.”
She said it felt like all the connections in her brain had failed.
“It was a catastrophic time. I think as a family we had our own falling into a black hole moment,” she told Daily Mail. “Part of coming out of that was to do something that had meaning. Working with Dad to write the books and inspire kids seemed a way of making a contribution.” Yes, her time with her father writing books was healing for both of them.
4. Lucy Has an Autistic Son
Lucy married UN worker Alex Mackenzie Smith in 1998, and they divorced in 2004. She has an autistic son named William who was born in 1997. Raising him as a single mom wasn’t always easy. She said that at one point, he wasn’t sleeping and he was having regular tantrums. She felt withdrawn and isolated. She said that a course of treatment prescribed by pediatricians helped her son.
In 2015, she wrote an open letter to Katie Hopkins, an English media personality, after Hopkins joked that a Labour leader looked like someone who was on the spectrum. She wrote about how, growing up, every time she and her father went out, they were “openly and intrusively commented on” as if they were “putting the other diners off.” Then she wrote about her son, William. She wrote: “He’s very sweet, polite, hard-working, kind and generally lovely. But yes, he does stare at people from time to time. When we are on the tube, occasionally I have to say to a member of the public that my son is autistic and that I’m sorry he is staring. The reaction is always kind and compassionate.”
Then she went on to suggest that if her son was staring at Hopkins, she wouldn’t think it was OK. She said that Hopkins’ views can validate bullies’ actions and make the lives of the disabled more difficult. “Please stop,” she concluded in her letter.
5. She Said That Stubbornness and Laughter Helped Keep Her Father Alive
In 2016, shortly before his 74th birthday, Lucy said that it was stubbornness and laughter that helped her father live so long. He was diagnosed with ALS at 21, and wasn’t expected to live more than a few years. But scientists later concluded that he had a variant of the disease that progressed more slowly, Scientific American reported. Most people with ALS pass away after their breathing and swallowing muscles degenerate. But if those do not, they can live much longer, which is what happened with Hawking. Hawking’s ALS is likely similar to juvenile-onset, which progresses very slowly.
Lucy said his scientific discoveries and sense of humor helped him keep going. She said: “He has a very enviable wish to keep going and the ability to summon all his reserves, all his energy, all his mental focus and press them all into that goal of keeping going. But not just to keep going for the purposes of survival but to transcend this by producing extraordinary work – writing books, giving lectures, inspiring other people with neurodegenerative and other disabilities.”