Dr Jane Hawking on fame, fact, fiction and film

Jane Hawking with her debut novel Silent Music

Jane Hawking with her debut novel Silent Music - Credit: Archant

Author speaks to Sidmouth audience ahead of the release of debut novel

Jane Hawking with her debut novel Silent Music

Jane Hawking with her debut novel Silent Music - Credit: Archant

Author Jane Hawking has spoken out about fame, fact, fiction and how she was ‘blown away’ at seeing her life documented on film.

Thrust into the spotlight because of her long marriage to world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, the writer has just released her debut novel and revealed it is ‘unbelievably refreshing’ to work on something that is completely her own.

Speaking at Kennaway House two nights before Silent Music officially goes on sale, Jane gave her Sidmouth audience a unique insight into life with Stephen and how she finally agreed to the making of multi-award-winning film The Theory of Everything.

Talking about her first memoir, Music to Move the Stars, she told the Herald: “Lots of critics shouted it down as a kiss and tell, which I never intended it to be, because it was meant to be a tribute to my parents who gave us so much help.

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“It was a very long time before I could reconcile myself to writing a memoir, because the idea did not appeal to me. But, gradually, it occurred to me that Stephen, because of his genius and this terrible disease, thrust us all into the public sphere.

“There was so little known about motor neurone disease [which Stephen has suffered with for many years] that I wanted to raise awareness of it and how horrendous it is. It was in 2004 that a scriptwriter from New Zealand, Anthony McCarten, came to my door asking if he could make a film. My reply was an absolute ‘no’ and it continued to be for years and years.”

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Years later, convinced that filmmakers wanted to make a screenplay that was ‘beautiful’ and ‘sincere’ Jane signed on the dotted line.

She said: “I was blown away by it at first when I saw the private screening and disturbed by the recreation of our own lives. Seeing Felicity Jones, I thought that really is me as I was as a teenager.

“I met Eddie Redmayne - there was this young man coming towards me looking exactly as Stephen had when I met him. He was walking with the same halting gait. What was really shocking was he went off and he tripped and fell by accident, just as Stephen had done many times.”

Jane revealed that her debut novel is to be the first part in a trilogy.

Speaking about the book, she said: “I cannot tell you how refreshing it was to write something completely on my own which has nothing to do with the Hawking aspect.

“That is something I was proud to be a part of, but it has dominated my life and the lives of my children.

“I honestly did not think I would ever have the opportunity to do this.

“There is a message in the book – if you have a dream and work hard enough, you will fulfil it.”

Featuring a little girl called Ruth growing up in London in the aftermath of World War Two, Silent Music is a coming-of-age novel about the unpredictable nature of human behaviour and taking control of one’s destiny.

Jane revealed that Sidmouth is the first place she has been with the new book and said she feels ‘privileged’ to have the opportunity to talk to people in a town that she loves.

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