A Brief History of Time

From the Big Bang to Black Holes

Stephen Hawking

Introduced by Martin Rees

Stephen Hawking’s landmark scientific work, A Brief History of Time, is presented as a striking Folio Society illustrated edition, exclusively introduced by Astronomer Royal, Martin Rees.

‘Lively and provocative … Mr Hawking clearly possesses a natural teacher’s gifts – easy, good-natured humor and an ability to illustrate highly complex propositions with analogies plucked from daily life.’
  1. New York Times

In the three decades since its first publication, A Brief History of Time has become a landmark volume in scientific writing, with more than 10 million copies in 40 languages sold worldwide. Hawking’s succinct style, coupled with a desire to reveal the elegance behind staggering scientific concepts, has illuminated the secrets of the universe for countless inquisitive readers. This stunning Folio collector’s edition is beautifully bound in blocked cloth and includes 16 pages of colour and black-and-white plates. The startling images of galaxies, dust and black holes are joined by 29 black-and-white images integrated throughout the text, while a fascinating introduction by Astronomer Royal, Martin Rees, underlines the huge importance and wide appeal of Hawking’s work.

Quarter-bound in blocked cloth with printed paper sides

Set in Utopia

208 pages

Frontispiece and 16 pages of colour and black & white plates

29 integrated black & white images

Plain slipcase

9½″ x 6¼″

With over fifty colour and black-and-white images, this edition features remarkable illustrations of space that bring Hawking’s universe to life. There are whirlpool galaxies, the eerie spectacle of gas and dust rising through the Eagle Nebula, and Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole that sits at the centre of the Milky Way. In his introduction, written exclusively for the Folio edition, Astronomer Royal Martin Rees outlines Hawking’s extraordinary achievements, including how he has helped to usher in an age in which our understanding of the cosmos is greater than it has ever been, and how ‘millions have had their cosmic horizons widened’ by this remarkable study. A Brief History of Time is one of the greatest scientific works of our age and this collector’s edition will enthral both new and returning readers. 

What do we know about the universe, and how do we know it? Where did the universe come from, and where is it going? Did the universe have a beginning, and if so, what happened before then? Starting with Aristotle, Ptolemy and the birth of physics, Hawking proceeds to tackle the biggest questions about our universe and the nature of time. He deals with Einstein’s theory of relativity, the expanding universe, the big bang, the big crunch, wormholes, black holes, cold stars, pulsars and time travel, and along the way he poses questions that lie at the heart of human curiosity. Why, for example, do we remember the past and not the future? Is time travel possible and, if so, why haven’t we seen any travellers from the future? Ultimately, Hawking furthers the search for a single unifying theory – an equation that would fuse quantum mechanics and the general theory of relativity, bringing us closer to a complete description of the universe we live in.

Stephen Hawking, born in 1942, was educated at St Albans School and University College, Oxford, where he was awarded a first class honours degree in Natural Science before pursuing his graduate studies in Cosmology at Cambridge. In his early twenties he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, known as Lou Gehrig’s disease or Motor Neurone Disease in the UK. From 1979 to 2009 he held the post of Lucasian Professor at Cambridge, the chair held by Isaac Newton in 1663. Professor Hawking was Director of Research at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP) and Founder of the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology (CTC) at the University of Cambridge. He held 12 honorary degrees and was awarded the CBE in 1982. He is the author of numerous academic publications, while his books include A Brief History of Time (1988, Folio 2015, 2021), the essay collection Black Holes and Baby Universes (1995), The Universe in a Nutshell (2001), A Briefer History of Time (2005), The Grand Design (2010) and the memoir My Brief History (2013), along with a series of children’s books co-authored with his daughter, Lucy. He died in Cambridge in 2018.

Martin Rees, born in 1942, is a Fellow of Trinity College and Emeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics at the University of Cambridge; he also holds the honorary title of Astronomer Royal. After studying at the University of Cambridge, he held post-doctoral positions in the UK and the USA. In 1973, he became a fellow of King’s College and Plumian Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy at Cambridge, and served for ten years as director of Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy. From 1992 to 2003 he was a Royal Society Research Professor, and then from 2004 to 2012, Master of Trinity College. In 2005 he was appointed to the House of Lords, and was President of the Royal Society until 2010. He is the author, or co-author, of more than 500 research papers, mainly on astrophysics and cosmology, as well as eight books, including Gravity’s Fatal Attraction: Black Holes in the Universe (1995), Our Cosmic Habitat (2001), Universe (2005) and From Here to Infinity: Scientific Horizons (2012).


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