Jane Hawking says living with Stephen made her 'suicidal' but Theory of Everything film brought them closer together

Life for the family became 'exhausting' after the release of Hawking's Brief History of Time

Roisin O'Connor
Monday 18 May 2015 11:06 BST
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Jane Hawking with her ex-husband
Jane Hawking with her ex-husband (Getty)

Stephen Hawking's first wife has spoken of the struggles she faced while caring for him and their three children as they came under extreme scrutiny from the rest of the world.

Jane Hawking, 71, says she was driven to the brink of suicide as life became "physically and mentally exhausting" as her family was viewed through her husband's genius.

"Sometimes life was just so dreadful, so physically and mentally exhausting, that I wanted to throw myself in the river – although of course I stopped myself because of the children," she said in an interview with The Telegraph.

Jane's story was brought to wider public attention following the release of the biopic The Theory of Everything, which earned Eddie Redmayne an Oscar and a Bafta for his portrayal of one of the world’s most famous scientists.

Her relationship with Stephen began shortly after his diagnosis with terminal motor neurone disease, and the pair somehow succeeded in keeping their marriage together for 25 years, until Hawking eventually left Jane for his carer Elaine Mason.

"In our real life the difficulties of dealing with Stephen's disease were much greater than they appear in the film,” Jane told the Guardian.

"There was no alternative to just carrying on. I felt very committed to Stephen, and I didn’t think he could manage without me. I wanted him to carry on doing his amazing work, and I wanted the children to have a stable family behind them – so we just carried on."

Nominated for five Oscars, four Golden Globes and ten BAFTAs, The Theory of Everything grossed £77 million worldwide.

Jane and Stephen are reportedly on good terms despite their divorce, and she says that the film has brought them closer together.

"I think the film has shown Stephen things he probably didn’t know about my struggles, and how I really did try my best to support him over such a long period," she said.

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