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Stephen Hawking Archive

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.10440

Scope and Contents

The Stephen Hawking Archive contains correspondence and papers relating to Hawking’s membership in the University of Cambridge; records relating to the administration of the Gravitation and Relativity Group within the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP); correspondence with academic colleagues, academic institutions and scientific organizations; correspondence and papers relating to travel to conferences and other events; correspondence with publishers, both academic and popular; correspondence with literary agents and contracts; correspondence and papers relating to broadcast media and film projects; press and author enquiries; unsolicited correspondence from the general public; political correspondence; correspondence relating to motor neurone disease, disability and accessibility; product literature about assistive technology; personal correspondence; subject files; research notes; unpublished writings by Hawking; published writings by Hawking (including prepublication versions); scientific writings by others; published material about Hawking; records created or acquired by Hawking’s mother Isobel and passed on to him; photographs; awards certificates and associated ephemera; gifts and commemorative items; and other objects. The archive also contains audiovisual recordings and a small volume of media carrying digital records.


  • Creation: 1740-2018, predominant 1942-2018

Language of Materials

The primary language of material is English. There are small amounts of material in Bengali, Bosnian, Chinese, Czech, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

Conditions Governing Access

The Stephen Hawking Archive is generally available to the holder of a reader's ticket for the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library, West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DR. Access to some files is restricted in compliance with the Data Protection Act 2018. Access to some files is temporarily restricted pending conservation treatment. See individual file entries for details. Audiovisual and digital content requires further processing to make it accessible for consultation; this material does not currently appear in this catalogue. Access information, including opening hours and how to obtain a reader's ticket, appears as part of the Library's website (

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright in material authored by Stephen Hawking remains with the Trustees of the Hawking Estate.

Biographical / Historical

Stephen William Hawking was born 8 January 1942 in Oxford, the eldest child of Frank Hawking, a medical researcher specializing in tropical medicine, and Eileen Isobel Hawking, nee Walker. He spent his early childhood in Highgate, North London, until his family moved to St Albans when he was 8 years old. He attended St Albans School prior to reading Natural Science (Physics) at University College, University of Oxford. He then undertook postgraduate study in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP) at the University of Cambridge, under the supervision of Dennis Sciama, and while a member of Trinity Hall. He remained at Cambridge after being awarded his Ph.D., having in 1965 been elected to a Research Fellowship at Gonville and Caius College; he would later become a Fellow for Distinction in Science and remain associated with Caius for the rest of his life. He was a Member of the Institute of Theoretical Astronomy from 1968, and then Research Assistant in the Institute of Astronomy, before becoming a Research Assistant in DAMTP in 1973. During the 1974-1975 academic year he was a Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholar at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech); he would return to Caltech for extended periods later during his career. Upon his return to Cambridge in 1975 he was appointed a Reader in Gravitational Physics in DAMTP, then Professor in 1977. In 1979 he was elected the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, a post he held until 2009. He founded the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at Cambridge University in 2007.

Hawking made a number of important contributions to the study of gravitation, black holes and cosmology such as his work on singularity theorems, classical black hole physics including the area theorem, primordial black holes, black hole radiation (now referred to as Hawking radiation), black hole evaporation and the information paradox, the no boundary wave function, and cosmic inflation. He published over 200 academic research articles, many with collaborators, including Roger Penrose and Jim Hartle. His first book was The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time co-authored with George Ellis, and he subsequently co-edited several academic conference proceedings and compilations. He gained widespread attention from his efforts to communicate science to a general audience, beginning to write articles for popular magazines in the late 1970s. His record setting best seller A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes was published in 1988, and he published several additional works for a general audience. In addition to educational film and television projects, he appeared in several popular television series including The Simpsons and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Hawking was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1974, and received numerous other awards and honours including, but not limited to, a CBE (1982) and CH (1989) within the UK Honours system, the Dannie Heinemann Prize (1976), the Albert Einstein Award (1978), the Dirac Medal (1987), the Wolf Prize (1989), the Prince of Asturias Award (1989), the Albert Medal (1999), the Royal Society Copley Medal (2006), the Fonseca Prize (2008), the US Presidential Medal of Freedom (2009), the Special Fundamental Physics Prize (2013) and the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award (2015). He was an honorary member or fellow of numerous scientific institutions and received honorary doctorates from several universities, including both Oxford and Cambridge.

Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND), also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), at the age of 21. He lived with MND for 55 years and was an outspoken proponent of disability rights and accessibility. He was also a patron of charities related to this aim, including the Motor Neuron Disease Association (UK).

Hawking married firstly in 1965 Jane Wilde, with whom he had three children. They separated in 1990 and divorced in 1995. He subsequently married Elaine Mason in 1995, and they divorced in 2006. Stephen Hawking died in Cambridge on 14 March 2018, and was interred in Westminster Abbey in June of the same year.

Hawking is the subject of numerous biographical works, including a biographical memoir written by several of his closest academic colleagues that outlines some of his most significant contributions to and collaborations within their field, see: Carr B.J., Ellis G.F.R., Gibbons G.W., Hartle J.B., Hertog T., Penrose R., Perry M.J. And Thorne K.S. (2019) Stephen William Hawking CH CBE. 8 January 1942—14 March 2018. Biogr. Mems Fell. R. Soc. 66: 267–308.


4 cubic metre(s)


With a few exceptions outlined in the entries for individual series, the materials received from storage at the Betty and Gordon Moore Library (BGML) were not organized in any apparent filing system. Some of the boxes contained groupings of loose documents that mostly pertained to a similar administrative area or a single project, whereas many others were mixed in content. Most of the paper documents were acquired unfoldered and were assembled into files by the archivist. For this reason the arrangement of these records is largely an artificial one imposed by the archivist. Best efforts were made to ensure that this imposed arrangement did not conflict with any surviving evidence of what the original filing system may have been, such as annotations to some documents indicating how they should be filed.

In contrast, most material known to have remained in the Hawking’s Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP) office maintained a good degree of original order in that material was largely kept in labelled files that were arranged in a discernible order, or groupings of related material such as notebooks were kept together. This material comprises Series 15 ‘Subject Files’, and much of the DAMTP ‘Personnel’ subseries of Series 2. Best efforts were made to preserve this existing order within the larger arrangement; in the case of the Subject Files this meant that similar [usually earlier] records that had been stored at BGML ended up in a different series. Where this has occurred, notes providing cross references are included in the description.

Custodial History

The Stephen Hawking Archive allocated to Cambridge University Library (CUL) under the AIL scheme has multiple custodial histories. At the time of Hawking’s death in March 2018, some of the archive was in Hawking’s office in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP) in the Centre for Mathematical Sciences (CMS) and some of it was being stored in the Betty and Gordon Moore Library (BGML) adjacent to the CMS. The DAMTP office may include the offices of Hawking’s assistants.

Transfer of records from Hawking’s office to BGML began circa 2001, in conjunction with the move of Hawking’s office from Silver Street in central Cambridge to the CMS, and then continued sporadically until at least 2017. Records were also transferred from Hawking’s residence to BGML. There is no extant inventory describing what items arrived when and from where, but there is a listing of what was in storage circa 2007. Before 2007, some records transferred to the BGML were categorized and sorted by staff. In the case of correspondence, this involved annotation of some records in pencil.

In 2018 and 2019, the majority of records originating from both storage locations were moved to Christie’s for valuation, some via temporary storage in CUL. These were transferred or returned to CUL following their acceptance in lieu and allocation on 22 March 2021.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accepted in lieu of Inheritance Tax by H M Government from the Estate of Stephen Hawking and allocated to the Cambridge University Library, 2021.


The content of the archive was selected by Christie's and the Hawking Estate for the Acceptance in Lieu process valuation, prior to allocation to Cambridge University Library. Duplicate material has been retained but not included in the catalogue.

Related Materials

The Science Museum Group holds the 'Stephen Hawking's Office' collection described as containing 'The entire contents of the last office of Stephen Hawking in Cambridge University, and associated awards, documents, mobility and communications equipment'. This includes over 800 items accepted in lieu of Inheritance Tax by H M Government from the Estate of Stephen Hawking and allocated to the Science Museum, 2021. All have Science Museum object numbers beginning 2021-561.

See notes in series level entries for information on other materials related specifically to the content of individual series.

Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom