Let's Give Jane Hawking Her Due, Shall We?


Jane Hawking—the author, teacher and first wife of late physicist Stephen Hawking, to whom she was partnered for 30 years—told a crowd at the Henley literary festival this week that the 2014 film The Theory of Everything erroneously portrayed her marriage. That’s a real bummer, considering her 2007 memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen was literally used as source material for the movie and all this could’ve been avoided, the Guardian reports.

Of the film’s slight inaccuracies (saying the pair met at Cambridge instead of St Albans, etc.) Hawking is mostly disappointed that, hello, the biopic didn’t work to illustrate how challenging and unglamorous it is to be a caretaker, a mother of three and a wife of a “severely disabled” man. It’s hard as hell! She had to abandon her own academic pursuits to do so! She told the audience:

“I knew if there were mistakes in the film that they were going to be immortalized, which they have been. I found that very irritating and I didn’t want it to happen. Don’t ever believe what you see in films…
The film really only shows that part of our lives in Cambridge. Our many foreign travels were ignored altogether—for example, our honeymoon was spent at a physics conference at Cornell University in upstate New York. I’m sorry to say that none of these extensive travels—with all the organizing, packing for a family with a severely disabled member, transporting them, driving them, as well as the usual day-to-day care—really appears in The Theory of Everything.”

Hawking goes on to say she asked for a “frenzied fast-forward version,” of said experiences with just a shot with “all the suitcases, wheelchair and passengers in the car to represent [that] aspect” of their lives but was told N-O.

Moreover, the movie portrays the end of their marriage as “tidy,” when it was anything but. Stephen left Jane for another caretaker, again, after 30 years of marriage, and as Michelle Dean writes in the Guardian piece, their story ended in a “protracted breakup that comes to a head in a screaming fight on vacation.”

In conclusion, read Jane’s book, fuck the Eddie Redmayne movie. You’ve been warned.

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