Cambridgeshire

Stephen Hawking wheelchair and thesis auction opens

Stephen Hawking book Image copyright Christie's
Image caption A copy of Prof Hawking's best-selling book is going under the hammer, signed with a thumbprint

Personal effects of Stephen Hawking, including a signed copy of his 1963 PhD thesis, are being offered in an online auction starting on Wednesday.

A total of 22 items owned by the physicist, who died in March, are being sold by Christie's over nine days.

They include an early wheelchair and a script for one of Prof Hawking's appearances on The Simpsons.

A specialist said the items represent the "ultimate triumph of scientific brilliance over adversity".

The extraordinary thesis, which is signed twice and inscribed by the scientist in the year he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, is expected to fetch as much as £150,000.

Image copyright Christie's
Image caption An excerpt from The Simpsons script which is included in the Christie's sale

The sale includes medals, awards and scientific papers.

Prof Hawking's book, A Brief History of Time, which he signed with a thumbprint in 1988, is guided at £2,000 to £3,000.

The physicist's daughter, Lucy, said Christie's had been helping the family "manage our beloved father's unique and precious collection of personal and professional belongings".

Image copyright Christie's
Image caption The wheelchair was used by Prof Hawking in the 1980s and 1990s

The "earliest surviving example" of one of Prof Hawking's motorised wheelchairs, which he used from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s, could fetch up to £15,000 for charity.

Proceeds from the sale of the red leather chair, with one footrest, will go to the Stephen Hawking Foundation and the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Sophie Hopkins, specialist in manuscripts and archives at Christie's, said much of the collection was "incredibly iconic".

"Once Hawking realised his diagnosis was not a death sentence, he set about his work with a renewed sense of vigour," she said.

"It is the ultimate triumph of scientific brilliance over adversity.

"His book alone has become a brilliant indicator of his true intellect - the ability to make something so complicated accessible to everyone."

The online-only sale, called On the Shoulders of Giants, also includes rare signed works from Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin and Sir Isaac Newton.

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