Stephen William Hawking was born on 8 January 1942 (300 years after the death of Galileo) in Oxford, England. His parents' house was in north London, but during the second world war, Oxford was considered a safer place to have babies. When he was eight, his family moved to St. Albans, a town about 20 miles north of London. At the age of eleven, Stephen went to St. Albans School and then on to University College, Oxford; his father's old college. Stephen wanted to study Mathematics, although his father would have preferred medicine. Mathematics was not available at University College, so he pursued Physics instead. After three years and not very much work, he was awarded a first class honours degree in Natural Science.
Stephen was diagnosed with ALS, a form of Motor Neurone Disease, shortly after his 21st birthday. In spite of being wheelchair bound and dependent on a computerised voice system for communication Stephen Hawking continues to combine family life (he has three children and three grandchildren), and his research into theoretical physics together with an extensive programme of travel and public lectures. He still hopes to make it into space one day.