Stephen Hawking Couldn't Read 'Til He Was 8 ...and was a lazy student, until he was told he had only years to live By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff Posted Oct 23, 2010 3:42 PM CDT 24 comments Comments British theoretical physicist professor Stephen Hawking lectures on his research, life and times the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario, Sunday, June 20, 2010. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Dave Chidley) (Newser) – If you assumed a brilliant mind like Stephen Hawking learned to read before most of us were out of diapers, you're very, very wrong. During a lecture in London on Wednesday, the astrophysicist announced that he didn't learn to read until he was eight years old ... and was a lazy student, to boot. "My classwork was very untidy, and my handwriting was the despair of my teachers," he said, adding that while at Oxford, he spent barely an hour a day on schoolwork. "I'm not proud of this. I'm just describing my attitude at the time, which I shared with most fellow students; boredom and feeling nothing was worth making an effort for." The Daily Mail reports that the 68-year-old said his behavior changed when doctors told him, at age 21, that he only have a few years left to live. "When faced with the possibility of an early death, it makes you realize that life is worth living and there are lots of things you want to do."