November 6, 2018

One of five known copies of Stephen Hawking’s PhD thesis is up for auction


Stephen Hawking‘s original thesis is on the auction block. Five copies of Hawking’s thesis are thought to exist and the current Christie’s auction will end on November 8. 

The thesis, “Properties of expanding universes.” was signed twice by Hawking and dated October 15 1965. It also bears an original inscription on the front: “This dissertation is my original work.” The current bid for this artifact tops over $88,000 and it’s estimated to closeout between $126,000 to $189,000. No small change there, folks.

This work also represents Hawking’s resilience: it was published three years after his diagnosis with a motor neurone disease. In 1962, Hawking abandoned his studies and suffered from depression due to said diagnosis. But, as history reveals, the physicist did something extraodinary. As stated in Christie’s:

His thesis is therefore in a sense his expression of renewed confidence in the future, and in many ways set the direction of his future work – particularly in his interest in singularity theorems – as well as his style, combining popularising flair with a willingness to challenge received wisdom. His renewed attention to his studies coincided with his engagement to Jane Wilde, and they married on 14 July 1965, almost exactly three months before the date of his thesis: it was Jane who typed the work out, adding the many scientific equations by hand.

If a copy of the original thesis is too pricey, there are other items for sale. Hawking’s best-selling book A Brief History of Time signed with his thumb print is up for auction, in addition to Stephen Hawking’s Time Travellers reception invitation.




Stephanie Valente is the Digital Marketing Manager at Melville House.