The Daily Telegraph
Hawking’s children tell of ‘brutal’ split at Christmas
‘We didn’t have the resources of adults, the mentality, the context or perspective. We were just kids’
THE children of Prof Stephen Hawking have described the “brutal” moment he left his family on Christmas Day for a new life with his carer.
In a documentary, Hawking: Can You Hear Me?, the physicist’s three children and their mother, Jane, speak candidly about family life.
Hawking announced on Christmas Day 1989 that he was moving out to live with Elaine Mason, one of his nurses.
Hawking’s daughter, Lucy, recalled the day. “We all understand that people split up and people move on, and these things happen. However, Christmas Day… My dad gave us all our presents in the morning and then he made this big thing of going off with Elaine, which I thought – and still think – was unnecessarily brutal,” she said.
“We didn’t have the resources of adults, the mentality, the context or perspective. We were just kids.”
In a complex arrangement, Jane Hawking had been in a relationship with another man, Jonathan Jones, which made Hawking increasingly unhappy.
Jane told the programme, which will be broadcast on Sky Documentaries on Sept 20: “It was obvious there was a relationship between Stephen and Elaine. They didn’t hide it. By comparison, my relationship with Jonathan was very mild and dedicated to Stephen’s care and keeping the family going.”
The situation was dramatised in the 2014 film The Theory of Everything.
Hawking went on to marry Ms Mason in 1995, but they divorced in 2006. The couple rejected allegations that Mason was abusive to her husband.
Cambridgeshire Police investigated the claims but no charges were filed and the inquiry was dropped.
Ms Mason declined to take part in the documentary.
Hawking’s children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, pay tribute to their father in the film, and his remarkable resilience after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease at 21. The “most misunderstood thing” about Hawking is how much he suffered, Lucy said.
“All the time I knew my father, he was 24 hours from dying. The fact it didn’t happen is a miracle.”