Richard Dawkins to divorce third wife: Prominent atheist to split from actress Lalla Ward

Well-known atheist and best-selling author Richard Dawkins speaks to the crowd during the "Rock Beyond Belief" festival at Fort Bragg army base in North Carolina March 31, 2012. | REUTERS/Chris Keane

Atheist Richard Dawkins has announced his divorce from his third wife, Lalla Ward, concluding their 24 years of marriage.

"Our marriage, like everyone's, is a private matter and we are not prepared to share any details. Suffice to say it is true that we recently separated entirely amicably," said a joint statement from the couple, as reported by The Sunday Times.

The couple's romance started when they met in March 1992 during a surprise party hosted by their friend and author of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," Douglas Adams, for Dawkins' 40th birthday.

By that time, Dawkins had already divorced twice and raised a daughter from his second marriage. Ward, known for her BBC television series "Doctor Who," had also divorced after only 16 months of marriage with co-star Tom Baker.

The sister of the 8th Viscount of Bangor of Castle Ward in County Down then became a textile artist after marrying Dawkins. She also recorded audio books and co-narrated some with her now ex-husband, including "The God Delusion," the book that shot Dawkins to fame in 2006.

According to Daily Mail, the 65-year-old actress described Dawkins as "totally different" from the "outspoken" public figure and that "he doesn't do emotional outbursts, get grumpy or depressed."

Their joint statement limited the details of their divorce only to an amicable end to their childless relationship and that they continue to call their $4 million Oxford estate as home.

"Obviously, this remains a difficult time, one which we simply will not discuss any further publicly. We would, however, like to stress that we shall always be friends and that we will, of course, continue to work together," the statement said.

The 75-year-old evolutionary biologist, who suffered a stroke early this year, had stirred the public years ago when he denounced monogamy and fidelity in relationships.

In his article piece "Banishing the Green Eyed Monster," Dawkins referred to "jealousy" in a relationship as "immoral and selfish."

He defended that men should be allowed to keep mistresses and indulge in sexual pleasures with others.