Title: Ursula Wieland: Portraits

Author: Udo Felbinger

Published by Eigenverlag, Berlin (2004)

29ox24omm. pp. 311. Stephen Hawking’s personal copy of Ursula Wieland’s collected portraits, including one portrait and one sketch of Hawking himself, both completed in the winter of 1992/3. Hawking, who died in 2018, was one of the most important and widely known scientist of his generation. He is equally famous for his original research, primarily into black holes and the origin of the universe (the ‘big bang’), and for his popular writing, most famously the 1988 blockbuster A Brief History of Time. Hawking’s personal circumstances – he was diagnosed with motor-neurone disease in 1962 – are well known and make his life-story one of the most extraordinary in the entire history of science. He outlived his original prognosis by more than half a century, and went on to make a number of profound contributions to astrophysics.

Wieldand’s vivid depiction of Hawking – and a more subtle preparatory sketch – are presented in full-page illustrations here, with a full write-up. The pages referencing and depitcting Hawking are all marked with yellow sticky-notes, and these are original to the Hawking family. The book was kept in Hawking’s personal collection at his Cambridge home and the provenance is indicated by a subtle book plate to the inside front cover (from the Cambridge book dealer who dealt with Hawking’s personal collection). As such this is a truly unique association copy and a rare opportunity to own a book with a direct connection to one of the most important scientists of our time.