John Murray will publish the official biography of Stephen Hawking by Graham Farmelo, following a deal with the late theoretical physicist's estate.
Nick Davies, m.d. of John Murray Press, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Robert Kirby at United Agents. Farmelo is represented by Toby Mundy of Toby Mundy Associates.
Scheduled for 2024, the official biography will be written by Farmelo, author of The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Quantum Genius (Faber), which won the Costa Biography Prize and LA Times Book Prize in 2009. Dirac was a personal hero of Hawking, who passed away in March 2018.
John Murray said Farmelo would draw on Hawking’s extensive archives, plus interviews with immediate family, friends and colleagues spanning every phase of his life to create "the definitive portrait of one of the world’s greatest minds: a rounded, gripping account of Hawking that will detail his development from boyhood to his place at the forefront of theoretical physics and beyond".
On behalf of the estate, Lucy Hawking, Robert Hawking and Tim Hawking said: "We are really delighted to be collaborating with Graham Farmelo on the definitive account of our extraordinary father’s life and work. Graham has a prize winning track record of writing compelling biographical narratives about scientists and their work. Graham will have exclusive access to all our personal records, resources and contacts.
Farmelo added: 'It is a privilege and a joy to be writing the life of Stephen Hawking - not only a brilliant scientist but also a truly remarkable human being. I much look forward to shedding new light on his achievement and character."
Hawking's final book, Brief Answers to the Big Questions, was published posthumously by John Murray in October 2018. It has sold 221,173 UK copies in hardback through Nielsen, with 1.5 copies shifted worldwide and has been published in 45 translated editions.
Davies said: "I can’t think of a more appropriate or exciting project to follow Brief Answers to the Big Questions, nor can I think of a better biographer for this project than Graham. We are delighted to continue our relationship with Lucy, Robert and Tim Hawking, and with Professor Hawking’s wider
community of friends and colleagues."
This Christmas will also see a special hardback edition of Brief Answers to the Big Questions, containing puzzles devised by the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics - Hawking’s department at the University of Cambridge - and inspired by the ten questions in the book. The main edition of the book will appear in paperback in March 2020.