Faith: How the former wife of Stephen Hawking emerged from the shadows of her past.




Dr Jane Helyer Jones is an accomplished writer and novelist, she is also Jane Hawking, the former wife of Stephen Hawking. She’s the author of the best selling book Travelling to Infinity, which is the true story behind the famous motion picture film The Theory of Everything.

The film tells the story of Jane’s early life with her husband, Professor Stephen Hawking, who is possibly the world’s best known scientist and the world’s best known sufferer of motor neurone disease. Stephen is played by Eddie Redmayne and Jane is played by Felicity Jones. Jane told the BBC, “Felicity’s performance was phenomenal. When I saw her on the screen I was flabbergasted because she captured my mannerisms, my movements, my patterns of speech even.” It is a stunning performance and Felicity Jones somehow portrays the complex bitter sweet nature of Jane’s life.

Just as in real life it’s a beautiful love story and Jane is clearly devoted to Stephen. But as Stephen’s disability worsens she becomes his carer. His fame and career place more and more demands upon her and she struggles with the physical and emotional effort of this work alongside the job of caring for their young family.

Jane told Christian Connection, “Faith was my rock and my blessing because I believed that there was help and support for me in all the challenges I faced and that things would resolve themselves eventually.”

In another interview she said: “I felt I needed the rock of my faith to do what might be expected of me, I was very dependent on my faith to help me through. I thought there must be a loving God acting in his (Stephen’s) life otherwise he might not have been gifted with the brain of a genius which enabled him to do the science that he could do. He couldn’t walk, he was having difficulty talking, he couldn’t write. All he could do was think, but he could think in such an extraordinary way, in a way not given to many people, to himself and [Albert] Einstein perhaps, but not many others. And that seemed to me to be the most extraordinary gift.”

In 2018 Jane told Readers Digest: “One day I asked him (Stephen) ‘How do you decide on a theory?’. He said, ‘Well you have to look at all the possibilities in various areas of research and decide what you’re interested in. Then you decide which area of research is most likely to give you the positive result. So you choose your theory, your area of interest, and then you have to take a leap of faith.’ I said, ‘What? What’s the difference between taking a leap of faith in physics and other people taking a leap of faith in religion?’ He laughed.”

Jane describes her parents as ‘darlings’ and says her Christian faith has helped her persevere, “I think my parents were rather taken aback, but they were very supportive of me when I married Stephen, and my mum, Beryl, encouraged me to keep faith as the way forward”.

Her first novel Silent Music was published by Alma Books in 2016. It tells the story of a child growing up in an unhappy family in London after the Second World War. The title of the series is The Immortal Souls. This stems from Jane’s belief that “everybody has a spark of spirituality and the divine inside them, and that circumstances often combine to prevent that spark from blossoming”.

“I saw Stephen’s spark blossom and my own is blossoming now in so many ways. I have my wonderful children and I’m doing all the things I want to do, especially my writing. I’ve been down a long winding path to reach that ultimate fulfilment but I think I’ve found it now.”

Jane is a strong, inspirational woman who has emerged from the shadows of her past and found a new life for herself. She’s found meaningful creative work. She’s found a special love with her husband Jonathon Jones Helyer, together they share a strong faith and a deep love of music. Her life has a happy ending. She said: “Life goes on doesn’t it? One year succeeds another and you concentrate on all the really wonderful things.”

Interview credits: Readers Digest, The National, Christian Connection, BBC Woman’s Hour.

Val Fraser

Val Fraser is a trained journalist with over 12 years’ experience working on staff in various demanding media environments. She has authored/edited thousands of articles including news, travel and features. Val has authored/contributed to nine non-fiction books. A regular columnist, she stepped up to the role of Digital Editor in September 2022 and is responsible for the Sorted Magazine website.

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