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Scientist’s wheelchair and Simpsons script among items on sale

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Stephen Hawking’s wheelchair, a script for one of his appearances in The Simpsons and some of his most important papers are going up for auction.

A highlight of the Christie’s online sale of the late scientist’s personal items will be a copy of his PhD thesis, which is expected to fetch as much as £150,000.

When Cambridge University made the 1965 work, Properties Of Expanding Universes, available online last year, demand was so great that it crashed the website.

The On The Shoulders Of Giants auction also includes Professor Hawking’s Black Hole Explosions paper from 1974, a selection of his medals and awards, a copy of his best-selling book A Brief History Of Time signed with a thumbprint, and a bomber jacket.

Stephen Hawking could be in the running to appear on the new £50
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Professor Hawking died in March aged 76

Professor Hawking’s daughter, Lucy Hawking, said her father’s archive was “a huge part of his legacy” and also “the history of science in this country”.

“We are very pleased to have the assistance of Christie’s to help us with the important matter of managing our beloved father’s archives and his unique and precious collection of personal and professional belongings, chronicling his life and work,” she said.

“We are also giving admirers of his work the chance to acquire a memento of our father’s extraordinary life in the shape of a small selection of evocative and fascinating items.”

Thomas Venning, head of the books and manuscripts department at Christie’s London, said: “The sale concludes with Professor Hawking’s wheelchair, in which he both toured the world as a successful scientific communicator, and from which his mind voyaged to the outer reaches of space-time, making it literally and figuratively one of the most-travelled wheelchairs in history.”

Proceeds from the sale of the scientist’s earliest surviving wheelchair will be donated to the Stephen Hawking Foundation and the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Professor Hawking died in March aged 76, with his funeral held in Cambridge, the city where he studied and worked.

The renowned scientist was diagnosed with motor neurone disease at the age of 22, when he was given just a few years to live.

But while his illness meant he used a wheelchair and an electronic voice synthesiser, he defied all the odds.

His research shaped modern cosmology and helped ordinary people better understand the universe, and his book, A Brief History Of Time, sold 10 million copies and was translated into 40 different languages.

The auction takes place between 31 October and 8 November.

Here are some of the items which will be up for sale:

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