Stephen Hawking at the Dawn of His Great Career

This month, we sold a rare and important document of Stephen Hawking: his original signed agreement to write his first book, now a classic of cosmology and astronomy. Hawking lost the ability to sign his own name decades ago and shortly after signing this.

Hawking's is perhaps the rarest of autographs from an important, living person. Our research discloses no definitively and unimpeachably authentic documents signed by Hawking have reached the market, let alone one of this importance.

Stephen Hawking is perhaps the most famous scientist alive today, and in the eyes of many the popular successor to Einstein, who occupied that position during his day.   He has worked on the basic laws which govern the universe, showing that Einstein's General Theory of Relativity implied space and time would have a beginning in the Big Bang and an end in black holes. These results indicated that it was necessary to unify General Relativity with Quantum Theory, the other great scientific development of the first half of the 20th Century. Among his discoveries is that black holes should not be completely black, but rather should emit radiation and eventually evaporate and disappear. Another conjecture is that the universe has no edge or boundary in imaginary time. In 1971, he published an essay, "Black Holes," which won critical acclaim.

In the late 1960s / early 1970s, Hawking moved definitively on to the public stage. In 1967 he, along with George Ellis, began working on his first book, originally titled "Singularities, Causality, and Cosmology.” The book covered the theoretical physics of spacetime, and it was published in 1973 as The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time.  It ended as an in-depth 384-page long work attempting to describe the foundation of space itself and its nature of infinite expansion, using differential geometry to examine the consequences of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.  It was a groundbreaking book in the scientific world and Hawking became famous.  Since then, Hawking has permeated popular culture, from blockbuster, Oscar-winning movies, to appearances on sitcoms.  His is a household name.  This book, which launched his career, is an international classic and has re-printed many times.

He began this book 4 years after the onset of Hawking's disease, ALS. “In my third year at Oxford, I noticed that I seemed to be getting more clumsy, and I fell over once or twice for no apparent reason,” Hawking wrote. “But it was not until I was at Cambridge that my father noticed, and took me to the family doctor. He referred me to a specialist, and shortly after my 21st birthday, I went into hospitals for tests…It was a great shock to me to discover that I had motor neuron disease.” His physical state deteriorated quickly after that.

The document, dated May 18, 1967, is the agreement between Cambridge University Press, Stephen Hawking and George Ellis for Hawking's first book, which at the time had the working title: "Singularities, Causality, and Cosmology." 

Hawking's is perhaps the rarest of autographs from an important, living person. Our research discloses no definitively and unimpeachably authentic documents signed by Hawking have reached the market, let alone one of this importance.

More From the Newswire


Raab in Forbes: Lincoln Forgeries

This document, authored by Nathan Raab, was first published on his blog on Forbes.com at http://www.forbes.com/sites/nathanraab/2014/06/16/everyone-thought-this-abraham-lincoln-document-was-authentic/. Everyone Thought This Abraham...

Read More

Join Us


Stay informed about new historical documents, historical discoveries, and information for the educated collector.

Collect. Be Inspired.