Stephen Hawking’s life or death moment

Prof Hawking was at lowest ebb during writing of bestseller. Picture: PA

Prof Hawking was at lowest ebb during writing of bestseller. Picture: PA

3
Have your say

Professor Stephen Hawking has revealed how he became so unwell while writing A Brief History Of Time that doctors offered to turn off his life support machine.

In a new film, the renowned physicist tells how in 1985 he thought contracting pneumonia would stop him from completing the book, which went on to sell 10 million copies, the Sunday Times reported.

However, his first wife, Jane Hawking, refused to end her husband’s life and demanded doctors in a Swiss clinic return him to Cambridge.

Although the life-saving treatment left him unable to speak, the motor neurone disease sufferer went on to publish the book which brought him worldwide fame.

“The doctors thought I was so far gone that they offered Jane [the option] to turn off the machine,” Prof Hawking says in the documentary. “The weeks of intensive care that followed were the darkest of my life.

“But slowly the drugs worked, though a small incision in my throat robbed me of my ability to talk. I was then put on a ventilator and hopes of finishing my book seemed over.”

Prof Hawking speaks openly about his two failed marriages, his second to nurse Elaine Mason, and his constantly precarious health in the documentary which coincides with the release of his biography.

He reveals that he has rekindled a friendship with his first wife, who also appears in the documentary and shares her heartbreak at the breakdown of their marriage.

The documentary film, Hawking, is due to be released later this year.

Back to the top of the page