Lucy Hawking is an English journalist, novelist, educator, and philanthropist who is best known for her children's book series, 'George', co-authored with her father, the late theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. She began her early career as a journalist, and launched her writing career with the mystery novels 'Jaded' and 'Run for Your Life', which were received with mixed reviews. She then teamed up with her famous scientist father to write entertaining science themed books for children. It was a new experience for both Lucy, who had not written about science before, and her father, who had never tried to write a story before. The first book they published, 'George's Secret Key to the Universe', became a huge success worldwide, prompting them to continue the series further. Till the death of Stephen Hawking, the two had published five more books in the series, 'George's Cosmic Treasure Hunt', 'George and the Big Bang', 'George and the Unbreakable Code', 'George and the Blue Moon', and 'George and the Ship of Time' – all of which have been received with positive reviews.
Childhood & Early Life
Catherine Hawking was born on November 2nd, 1970 in London, England to scientist Stephen Hawking and author Jane Wilde Hawking. She is the second child and only daughter of her parents, and has two brothers named Robert and Timothy Hawking.
She spent her early childhood years in Pasadena, California, and was raised in Cambridge after her parents settled there. While she was mortified witnessing the amount of negative attention her disabled father was attracting, she claims that she had a normal upbringing thanks to the efforts of her mother and maternal grandparents.
She attended the University of Oxford to learn French and Russian. Later on she studied international journalism at City, University of London.
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Lucy Hawking thought that journalism can be a good writing practice towards her eventual goal of becoming a writer and began working in the profession after completing her graduation. During this period, she wrote articles for renowned news outlets including the 'New York' magazine, the 'Daily Mail', 'The Telegraph', 'The Times', the 'London Evening Standard', and 'The Guardian'.
Despite going through a number of personal problems during the early 2000s, side-by-side her journalism career, she continued to work on her first novel, 'Jaded', which was released in 2004. It is a mystery novel about an apparently content banker named William Gadget whose four friends come together to help him after he claims his life is in danger.
Following the moderate success of her debut novel, she published her second novel, 'Run for Your Life', also published as 'The Accidental Marathon', in 2005. The novel, which received better reviews, is about an antiques seller who, after her boss disappears, discovers that her job may actually be a front for art forgery.
Following lukewarm response to her mystery novels, she turned towards children's literature and published 'George's Secret Key to the Universe' (2007), for which she collaborated with her father and his former Ph.D. student, Christophe Galfard. The book, which is about the adventures of a boy named George, who travels around the solar system through a computer-generated portal, has been very successful and has spawned five follow-up books.
Lucy, who travelled the world following her book release, mentioned in her lecture at NASA’s 50th birthday event in April 2008 that it is important to engage children in science at an early age. Later that year, she was awarded the 'Sapio Prize', an Italian honor given to innovative researchers, for her efforts to popularize science worldwide.
In 2009, she again teamed up with her father to write the second installment in her children's book series, 'George's Cosmic Treasure Hunt'. The middle-school cosmologists, George and Annie, return in this sequel for a cosmic adventure to explore the galaxy.
The third book in the George series, 'George and the Big Bang', came out in 2011, and was also written by both Stephen and Lucy Hawking. The book follows George and Annie going to the Large Hadron Collider to witness the biggest science experiments of all time, and uncovering an evil plot to destroy the experiment.
She was appointed a writer-in-residence by the Arizona State University to work on its 2011 Origins Project. In 2013, she was one of the speakers at the 'BrainSTEM: Your Future is Now' festival at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
'George and the Unbreakable Code' was the fourth book in the series written by Lucy and her father, and was released in 2014. In this installment, best friends George and Annie "travel further into space than ever before" to find out how the world's biggest computers got hacked.
She received funding from the UK Space Agency in 2015 to collaborate with British publisher Curved House Kids to develop an educational project for astronaut Tim Peake, the 'Principia Space Diary'. Till date, 90,000 students have completed the program, which helped it earn a nomination for the 'Sir Arthur Clarke Award for Excellence in Space Education' by the British Interplanetary Society in 2017.
For the fifth book in the George series, 'George and the Blue Moon', released in 2016, Lucy and Stephen Hawking again collaborated with Christophe Galfard. The final installment in the series before the death of Professor Hawking, 'George and the Ship of Time', was released in March 2018, the same month he died.
The 'George' children's book series is definitely Lucy Hawking's most notable work so far, with all of the five books receiving positive feedback for making children interested in science. Her first children's book, 'George's Secret Key to the Universe', is a global bestseller which has been published in 43 countries and was translated into 38 languages.
Personal Life & Legacy
Lucy Hawking married Alex Mackenzie Smith, a former member of the UN Peace Corps in Bosnia, in 1998, one year after their son William was born, but later divorced in 2004 for undisclosed reasons. William, who was later diagnosed with autism, has inspired her to support people on the autistic spectrum.
In the early 2000s, as her marriage broke down and she learnt about her son's autism, she had succumbed to depression and had resorted to heavy drinking. However, with help from family and friends, and after spending a month at a clinic in Arizona, she was able to return to normal life.
A philanthropist, she serves as the vice president of the National Star College, which is an institution that provides care and education to young adults with complex and multiple disabilities. She is also a trustee of the Autism Research Trust, which promotes the general cause of scientific investigation into autism.
Lucy Hawking got the idea of her bestselling 'George' book series after one of her son's friends asked Professor Hawking at a party what will happen to him if he fell into a black hole. Watching the boy's amusement at his answer that he would "turn into spaghetti", she decided to use methods of entertainment to engage the newer generation on topics such as science and politics.