Stephen Hawking was born on January 8, 1942 in Oxford, England. His father was a medical researcher in London, but decided to move with his wife to Oxford, where it was safer from German bombings. It was there that Stephen was born and the family later moved to Highgate, where he started attending school.
In 1950, Stephen's father got a job at the Institute for Medical Research in Mill Hill and the family moved to nearby St. Albans. Stephen studied at the St. Albans High School and stayed there for his young life, despite encouragement by his father to apply at Westminster's school. During his later years in the school, Stephen wanted to focus on mathematics, but his father convinced him to focus instead on chemistry.
In March of 1959, he took a scholarship examination for Oxford University and was awarded it. He moved to Oxford to study natural sciences, with specialization in physics, and earned his First Class degree. After graduating, he moved to Cambridge, where he began researching general relativity and cosmology.
In 1963, he entered a hospital after noticing that his motor control accuracy was declining. He was tested for two weeks and finally diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease, a disease of the motor neurons. The doctors predicted that he would not live long enough to earn his doctorate, but he continued his research anyways.
In 1966, he earned his doctorate and was awarded a fellowship at Gonville and Caius College in Cambridge. He started out as a research fellow, but was later given a teaching position. In 1973, he moved from the institute of astronomy to the department of applied mathematics and theoretical physics at Cambridge University. In 1977, he was made professor of gravitational physics and, in 1979, he was appointed Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, a chair which was previously held by none other than Isaac Newton.
Throughout the late 1960s, Hawking had been researching general relativity and devised new mathematical techniques applicable to the field. In 1970, he began applying his research to black holes and discovered that black holes could emit radiation. In 1971, he theorized that the big bang had produced objects that weighed 10^9 tons, yet were as small as protons. In 1983, he proposed his no boundary proposal, which stated that time and space are finite in extent, but have no edge or boundary.
In 1985, he came down with a bout of pneumonia and doctors in Geneva told his wife that it would be best to let him die. However, his wife refused to allow it and took him to a hospital in Cambridge, where a surgeon performed a tracheotomy that saved his life, but destroyed his ability to speak. To overcome this new disability, Stephen was given a machine that synthesized speech based on the vibrations in his trachea.
In 1988, Hawking published his famous work "A Brief History of Time", which broke sales records and was on the Sunday Times bestseller list for 237 consecutive weeks. It remains one of the best selling science books in history.
For his accomplishments, Hawking became a fellow of the Royal Society in 1974 and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. In spite of his disability and confinement to a wheelchair, Stephen continues giving lectures and studying cosmology.