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A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking first edition 1988

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking first edition 1988


London: Bantam Press (Transworld Publishers), 1988 


8vo., blue boards lettered in gilt to backstrip; dust jacket featuring a photograph of the author by David Gamble/ Time Magazine (£14.95 net); pp. [vi], vii-x, [i], 2-198; with numerous diagrams and illustrations in the text by Ron Miller; a very good to near-fine copy, the light spotting to the outer edges of the text block and a couple to jacket verso and flaps being the only defects. 


First UK edition, first impression, with an introduction by Carl Sagan. Published simultaneously with the US edition in April 1988. 


Hawking’s scientific career at the University of Cambridge included collaborative work with Roger Penrose on gravitational singularity theorems, and the prediction that black holes emitted radiation (now often referred to as Hawking radiation). At the time, his theories were considered controversial, but are now widely accepted as major breakthroughs in theoretical physics. Prompted by a desire to bring cosmology into popular thought, he published A Brief History of Time, with the distinct intention that his readers would have no prior knowledge of the subject. In as non-technical terms as possible, he writes on the structure, origin and ultimately fate of the universe, including space and time concepts, black holes, the big bang, quantum mechanics and general relativity. The book was an instant bestseller, and with 25 million copies sold worldwide, it remained on the Sunday Times bestseller list for a record-breaking 237 weeks. 


Sagan’s sterling introduction ends: “This is also a book about God…or perhaps about the absence of God. The word God fills these pages… Hawking is attempting, as he explicitly states, to understand the mind of God. And this makes all the more unexpected the conclusion of the effort, at least so far: a universe with no edge in space, no beginning or end in time, and nothing for a Creator to do.” 

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