Inside wheelchair-bound Lothario Stephen Hawking’s improbable, steamy love life
He may have been bound to a wheelchair and unable to speak, but Stephen Hawking had an incredibly complicated and complex love life that involved affairs and allegations of cheating and abuse.
A new book by Hawking’s old friend Leonard Mlodinow (a copy of which was obtained by the Daily Mail) reveals details of Hawking’s marriages and affairs and how the physicist, who communicated by a computer, demanded to be the center of attention, eclipsing most everyone in his life.
Hawking was first married to Jane Wilde in the 1960s when the couple were both in their early 20s, and when he was first exhibiting signs of ALS. But their sex life was wanting.
“[Hawking’s] condition meant that Stephen had always been a completely passive sex partner as well as a fragile one,” Mlodinow wrote in his new book, “Stephen Hawking: A Memoir of Friendship and Physics.” “Over time, his fragility caused Jane to worry that sexual activity might kill him… Making love to him became a frightening and empty experience. Even the thought of sex with him felt unnatural, and her desire for him faded. He had the needs of an infant and the ‘body of a holocaust victim,’ she said.”
Jane would become more of a caretaker over the next three decades, “eventually feed him, dress him, bathe him and sit with him through his many hospital visits and near-death experiences.”
“In the process, over time, she’d lose her own identity,” Mlodinow writes. “And with it, her self-worth. ‘’Who am I?’’ she’d wonder.”
The two remained married until 1985 when, after a tracheotomy, Hawking fell for his nurse, Elaine Mason, a fiery redhead who “liked to skateboard and definitely knew how to flirt”.
“Maybe one reason they bonded was that she had the flamboyance he would have exhibited if he’d had the use of his body,” Mlodinow writes. “For her part, Elaine wasn’t put off by Stephen’s physical condition. Just the opposite: she was drawn to it.”
At the time of their affair, both Hawking and Mason were still married — he to Jane and she to David, “an engineer and self-confessed Hawking super-fan who helped develop Hawking’s speech synthesizer.”
At the same time, Jane was conducting her own affair with Jonathan Hellyer Jones, the choirmaster at her local church in Cambridge.
Elaine would travel with Hawking whenever he did speeches abroad, and, according to the book, “She loved his strength. She’d speak and listen to him patiently, appreciative of the time and energy he expended to communicate with her, and she began to confide in him.”
Meanwhile Jane went to Hawking and explained she was having an affair and according to Mlodinow, he gave his blessing. “The idea was that the affair would be kept ‘private and discreet’ and the family would ‘evolve to include them all’… ‘It would be a new arrangement, a kind of extended family. What Jane didn’t expect was that Stephen would extend the family again — to include Elaine.”
“If Stephen and Jane had followed a path from man-and-lover to infant-and-carer, he and Elaine followed the reverse trajectory,” he wrote.
“This led to a new ‘new arrangement.’ It was a constellation as complex as any in the night sky, encompassing Stephen, Elaine, Jane, and Jonathan; the three Hawking children; and their various interconnecting relationships’.
Stephen and Elaine eventually broke out of the arrangement and married in 1995.
Elaine quit being his nurse to become his wife, but would still cook for him and prepare his favorite foods like curries and roast dinners.
Elaine “loved to hold his hand and even though they couldn’t sleep in the same bed, she would come down in the night just to look at him and touch him,” the book said.
“‘[I] helped Stephen but he helped me,” Elaine told Mlodinow. “I came from a dysfunctional family. My parents didn’t look after us very much. I loved (my ex-husband), but we weren’t in love. I married him because I was 25 and he was the first man who asked me, and that’s what you did. So the feeling of being loved was special. And I was in love with Stephen and he was in love with me. He accepted me and loved me for who I am inside.”
Hawking’s daughter, Lucy, and son, Tim, however, weren’t as enamored of Elaine and the world was shocked when they accused Elaine of abuse. In 2000, police investigated claims that Elaine had slammed Hawking’s wrist on his wheelchair, allegedly refused to let him use his urine bottle so he wet himself, allegedly let him slip beneath the water while in the bath, causing water to enter the tracheotomy site in his throat and allegedly left him alone in the backyard on the hottest day of the year, causing him to suffer a heat stroke and severe sunburn.
The allegations were strongly denied by Hawking and his assistant Judith Croasdell, and the police concluded their investigation in 2004 without charge. “Whatever happened or didn’t happen, one thing everyone did agree upon was that Elaine and Stephen had always had a stormy relationship,” Mlodinow wrote. “One moment it was: ‘You’re crazy, I hate you, and never want to see you again’; the next it was ‘I love you more than anything and could never live without you.’”
One night when Mlodinow came to dinner, Elaine erupted, saying: “It’s just that I’ve been his slave for 20 years, and it’s enough.” She later apologized for her outburst.
After Hawking’s death, Elaine told the author, “Stephen was like an actor. He needed to be the center of attention, the center of the universe. He loved it. It gave him energy. He loved people.He had a very tough life but he was an incredibly brave man. He never, ever complained, ever, but he needed to be the center of attention. And, yes, I probably resented that. Not all the time, but when I was tired or one of the carers was flirting with him, or whatever it was. But it would be temporary. The resentment would pass. Deep down, he was my only love.”
The couple divorced in 2006 after Hawking fell for another nurse, Diana King, who was 39 years younger than the physicist and suffered from manic depression… something Hawking seemed to like.
“[Elaine’s] mixed up,” Hawking once told Mlodinow. “But it’s time I helped someone else. All my adult life people have been helping me.”
Mlodinow adds: “Was he attracted to troubled women? I wasn’t sure. I thought Diana was intelligent and well read. Nice to chat with; I learned stuff. But that was when she was on her meds.” He later speculates that “physical desire was what drove their connection or it could have been something deeper, a connection between two souls.”
While the two got engaged, Hawking was worried a marriage would cause more problems with his children and backed out, devastating Diana, who once told Mlodinow that Hawking had ‘the most expressive face in the world’ and she could tell what he was thinking by the way his mouth twitched.”
Share this article:
Source: Read Full Article