A Brief History of Time

Front cover of the first edition of A Brief History of Time.

A Brief History of Time: From the Big bang to Black Holes (ISBN 978-0-553-10953-5) is a bestselling non-fiction book by the British physicist Stephen Hawking that was first published in 1988. The book has sold more than ten million copies, and was on the best sellers list of the London newspaper The Sunday Times for a record-breaking two hundred and thirty-seven weeks.


A Brief History of Time attempts to give the general reader an overview of cosmology, covering subjects including the Big Bang, black holes and light cones. Unusually for a popular science book, it also tries to explain some very complicated mathematics.

Hawking states in A Brief History of Time that an editor advised him to use as few mathematical equations as possible. because the book would not sell well if it had a lot of equations in it. As a result, Hawking decided to use only one equation, the famous E=mc2.

The book contains several diagrams to help make Hawking's explanations of complicated subjects clearer.


The first edition included an introduction by Carl Sagan. However, because the copyright to the introduction was held by Sagan himself rather than Hawking or the publisher, the introduction was missing from later editions.

In 1996 an expanded and updated edition was published, the hardback edition of which contained full color illustrations and photographs.

In 2005 A Briefer History of Time, co-authored by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, appeared. A Briefer History of Time is an abridged version of A Brief History of Time, updated to reflect advances in scientific understanding since the book's first publication.


An American documentary called A Brief History of Time was released in 1991. The documentary was directed by Errol Morris and featured music by Philip Glass. It is not a true adaptation of the book but rather a biographical study of Stephen Hawking, featuring interviews with his colleagues, friends and family members.

The New York Metropolitan Opera has commissioned an opera based on A Brief history of Time, scheduled for performance in 2015 or 2016.

External links

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.