A Life Well Travelled: Jane Hawking

Author of the autobiography Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, which chronicles her life with renowned physicist Stephen Hawking and was adapted into the Academy Award-nominated film, The Theory of Everything


I divide my time between Cambridge in England and my house in northern France. I started learning French when I was quite small and then my father began to take us there on holiday, first of all to Brittany which I loved. As I travelled further I discovered more about the art, architecture and history of the country through visiting different areas, each with its own particular identity, scenic landscapes and gastronomic specialities. In France, at least in the country areas, people maintain the traditional values and family networks which are fast disappearing in England. For instance, at weekends children go to visit their grandparents and families get together. I am lucky to have many friends in France and feel well involved in the local community.

It is very important to me to encourage good communications between people of different nations and I try to do my part. I regularly visit Seattle to see my eldest child, Robert. Seattle is a most beautiful place: the city is surrounded by lakes and mountains on all sides and I never tire of gazing out over Puget Sound to the Olympic Peninsula and the many islands in the Sound.

I had to overcome flying phobia to allow myself to fly at all. This dates back to the days when I was flying huge distances with a new baby on one arm and a disabled husband on the other. The stress of caring for both of them crystallized into a fear of flying, which with treatment I have overcome, largely because the incentive to get to Seattle to see new-born grandchildren outweighed the flying phobia.

Travelling has given me so many wonderful memories: travelling throughout Europe and America, visiting Russia at the height of the Cold War and since, and a round-the-world trip in 2012. One of the most memorable trips was to Jerusalem in 1988, where Stephen was presented with a prize for his scientific achievements. I remember looking out over white walls and flat roofs of old houses and heard cockerels crowing. It was a scene that had remained unchanged for thousands of years.

Jane Hawking is speaking at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature which is taking place from 1-10 March 2018. 

Photo credit: © Angelina Micu