Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett was born in 1948 in Beaconsfield, Bucks, and decided to become a journalist after his first short story, ‘The Hades Business’, was published   in Science Fantasy magazine when he was fifteen years old. 

His first job was on the Bucks Free Press and he went on to work for various newspapers before becoming a publicity officer for the Central Electricity Generating Board in 1980. He became a full-time writer in 1987. His first novel, The Carpet People (1971), a humorous fantasy, was followed by The Dark Side of the Sun (1976) and Strata (1981). 1983 saw the publication of The Colour of Magic, which became the first in a long series of Discworld novels. BBC Radio Four serialised The Colour of Magic and Equal Rites (1987)and these brought him great popularity. There are now more than 40 books in this series, set in a surreal world on the back of four elephants that stand on the shell of Great A’Tuin, the sky turtle. The Discworld series is popular world-wide and has led to the production of much related merchandise.  

Hailed as one of the greatest humorous satirists, Pratchett was one of few writers to write across the adult/child divide. His book, Truckers (1989), was the first children’s book to appear in British adult fiction best-seller lists. 

Terry Pratchett wrote many novels for young readers, and the end-of-the-world novel Good Omens (1990) – in collaboration with Neil Gaiman. He also wrote several short stories, some of which are on Discworld themes. His books have sold over thirty-five million copies worldwide and have been translated into over thirty languages.  

He was awarded three honorary degrees, in 1999 by the University of Warwick, in 2001 by the University of Portsmouth, and in 2003 by the University of Bath. In 2009 he received a Knighthood. In 1968 he was married to Lyn Purves. They had a daughter, Rhianna Pratchett, who is also a writer. He lived with his family in Wiltshire. 
Terry Pratchett died in 2015, aged 66. 

Facts about Terry Pratchett 

1. He Was Knighted In 2009 Sir Terrence David John Pratchett was knighted, for his services to literature, by the Queen in 2009. 
In response, the newly knighted Sir Terry went on to create a coat of arms for himself. It bears the motto “noli timere messorem” which means, of course, “Don’t fear the reaper.” It has an ankh on it, in honor of his Discworld hub of Ankh-Morpork, and an owl carrying two books. 
He also went out and made himself a sword, because a knight isn’t a proper knight without one. Instead of buying one in a shop, he went into the fields behind his home, dug up some ore, and took it to a local blacksmith. There he smelted it himself. He added thunderbolt iron from a meteorite, which is considered to have magic. He also had his own motto: “Noli timere messorem.” It meant “don’t fear the reaper.” 

2. He Loved Playing Video Games 
Sir Terry was just as big of a nerd as his fans. The Luggage, a memorable Discworld character (if a sentient trunk counts as a character), was created during a game of Dungeons & Dragons in his youth. 
He enjoyed video games like Thief, Half Life 2OblivionTomb Raider and Doom. He painted Warhammer miniatures and expressed a desire to one day write a book set in that universe. (Imagine what a Terry Pratchett Warhammer book would have been!) 
Sir Terry also loved technology and embraced new advances. In the 1990s he was even active on a Usenet group about his books. Usenet! Those were the days. 

3. His Daughter Writes Video Games 
After Sir Terry’s passing, it was announced that his daughter Rhianna was to be the new custodian of his works, including the legacy of Discworld. Rhianna Pratchett is a fantastic writer and producer in her own right, working in video game storytelling; she is most recently responsible for the latest Lara Croft games. She has made it clear there will be no more Discworld novels. 

This year (2020) Terry Pratchett’s production company Narrativia has announced a new development deal to make several series adaptations of the late author’s fantasy novels. There are currently no details of which books the partnership will tackle, though many of Pratchett’s books have been adapted before: Sky has dramatised Hogfather, The Colour of Magic and Going Postal; Soul Music and Wyrd Sisters have been turned into animations, and Good Omens, starring David Tennant as the demon Crowley and Michael Sheen as the angel Aziraphale, was recently aired on Amazon Prime and the BBC, to positive reviews. BBC America is also producing The Watch, a series based on Pratchett’s stories about the City Watch police. 

4. He Wanted To Be An Astronomer 
Sir Pratchett wanted to be an astronomer, especially when he was a child. He would collect cards of stars and planets like some children collect Pokémon. He spent much of his youth looking into a telescope. It was his interest in space that sparked his passion for his writing. Even as an adult Sir Pratchett had an observatory in his back garden. To honour Sir Pratchett, NASA named a small asteroid after him. It’s called 127005 Pratchett. 

5. He was a trustee The Orangutan Foundation 
The Librarian of Unseen University is a fan favourite character in the Discworld novels. He’s also a primate. Technically, he was once a wizard, and through some magical mishap, was turned into an orangutan. (He much prefers it, to be honest.) Sir Terry loved orangutans, so much so that he became a trustee of the Orangutan Foundation, which strives to keep them from going extinct. In 2013, Sir Terry went to Borneo with the BBC to film a documentary called Facing Extinction, where he met some orangutans and tried to raise public awareness of their plight. 

6. Sir Pratchett Was A Humanist 
Sir Pratchett liked to describe himself as a humanist. He was named Humanist Of The Year by the British Humanist Association in 2013. 

7. Sir Pratchett Wrote (Or Co-Wrote) More Than 70 Books 
His first story was published when he was 13. He had a short story published in his school magazine. His first commercial publication came to a couple of years after when he was 15. Sir Pratchett had been working on his craft until his death in 2015. 

Until 2005, Terry Pratchett was the top-selling author of all time in the UK, only unseated by the juggernaut that is J.K. Rowling. His books have been translated into 36 different languages, and have sold over 80 million copies world-wide. He was once called “the most shoplifted author in Great Britain,”. 

8. He Was Diagnosed With Alzheimer’s Disease 
Sir Terry was diagnosed with a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease in 2007. He called it “the embuggerance,” and faced it with his patented brand of humour and philosophy. Not being one to let anything stop him, he became an early adopter of voice recognition software, once typing out his books became too difficult. 

After his diagnosis, Sir Terry became a staunch supporter of Alzheimer’s research, donating millions of pounds to finding a cure, as well as advocating for right-to-die legislation. A documentary produced by the BBC called Choosing to Die followed him as he looked into assisted suicide. It won a Scottish BAFTA and an International Emmy. 

9. He Was Devoted To His Books 
With the progress of his disease, typing was no longer an option for him, but did this stop the great knight? No. He made a vow to keep writing despite his diagnosis. Sir Pratchett used a speech recognition software to stay true to his vow and published his books at the same rate as before the diagnosis. 

10. Cameo film roles 
With over 40 Discworld books to choose from, it’s rather amazing more of them haven’t made it to the big screen. There have been attempts, some more successful than others. Three books have made the leap from page to screen: Hogfather, Going Postal, and The Colour of Magic. In each film version, Sir Terry has a brief blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo. 

In Hogfather he’s a toy maker. In The Colour of Magic, he’s an astrozoologist. His best part is playing a mailman in Going Postal. His wry wit and sparkling personality completely take over the moment he’s on camera. Not many can say they stole the show from the man playing Lord Vetinari, Charles Dance himself! 

11. Constant Companion 
While there are many reoccurring characters in the Discworld books, the most memorable is Death. He speaks in capital letters and has a fondness for humans that sometimes seems at odds with his job description. The character appears in every single Discworld book except one, The Wee Free Men. A version of him even makes it into Good Omens, the fantastic book Pratchett co-wrote with his good friend Neil Gaiman. Not to be too much of a downer, but the character of Death was also the one who announced Sir Terry’s passing on his Twitter account. (The tweet was actually written by his long-time friend and assistant, Rob Wilkins.) It read: 
AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER. 
Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night. 
The End. 

12. GNU Terry Pratchett 
Sir Terry Pratchett passed away on March 12, 2015. His fans, broken-hearted as they were, found solace in a quote from Going Postal, one of his best novels. 
“A man’s not dead while his name’s still spoken.” 
Taking inspiration from this, Pratchett fans set out to make sure his name could never be forgotten. In Going Postal, a series of telegraphic like towers called clacks will send a memorial bit of hacked code if a worker has died. It was called GNU, and ensured the name would go up and down the lines for as long as there were lines to travel. G stood for passing on the message, N meant “not logged,” and U meant it must be sent back when it reached the end of the line. Thus, GNU Terry Pratchett was born. 

Fans worked to insert “GNU Terry Pratchett” into everything they could get their hands on. It became a Twitter hashtag, found itself embedded in everything from HTML to WordPress coding, and became part of many Discworld fan’s signatures on fan sites, thus ensuring Sir Terry’s name is going 

Of course I’m sane, when trees start talking to me, I don’t talk back.

Terry Pratchett, The Light Fantastic

The Colour of Magic

Available as an eBook

In the beginning there was a turtle. 

Somewhere on the frontier between thought and reality exists the Discworld, a parallel time and place which might sound and smell very much like our own, but which looks completely different. Particularly as it’s carried though space on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown). It plays by different rules. 

But then, some things are the same everywhere. The Disc’s very existence is about to be threatened by a strange new blight: the world’s first tourist, upon whose survival rests the peace and prosperity of the land. Unfortunately, the person charged with maintaining that survival in the face of robbers, mercenaries and, well, Death, is a spectacularly inept wizard.

The Light Fantastic

Available as an eBook and an eAudiobook

‘What shall we do?’ said Twoflower. ‘Panic?’ said Rincewind hopefully. He always held that panic was the best means of survival. 
As it moves towards a seemingly inevitable collision with a malevolent red star, the Discworld could do with a hero. What it doesn’t need is a singularly inept and cowardly wizard, still recovering from the trauma of falling off the edge of the world, or a well-meaning tourist and his luggage which has a mind (and legs) of its own. Which is a shame because that’s all there is… 

Equal Rites

Available as an eBook and an eAudiobook

The last thing the wizard Drum Billet did, before Death laid a bony hand on his shoulder, was to pass on his staff of power to the eighth son of an eighth son. Unfortunately for his colleagues in the chauvinistic (not to say misogynistic) world of magic, he failed to check that the baby in question was a son. Everybody knows that there’s no such thing as a female wizard. But now it’s gone and happened, there’s nothing much anyone can do about it. Let the battle of the sexes begin… 

Snuff

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that a policeman taking a holiday would barely have had time to open his suitcase before he finds his first corpse. Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch is on holiday in the pleasant and innocent countryside, but not for him a mere body in the wardrobe. There are many, many bodies – and an ancient crime more terrible than murder. He is out of his jurisdiction, out of his depth, out of bacon sandwiches, occasionally snookered and out of his mind. But never out of guile. Where there is a crime there must be a finding, there must be a chase and there must be a punishment. They say that in the end all sins are forgiven. But not quite all… Winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction 

Raising Steam

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It’s all change for Moist von Lipwig, swindler, conman, and (naturally) head of the Royal Bank and Post Office. A steaming, clanging new invention, driven by Dick Simnel, the man with t’flat cap and t’sliding rule, is drawing astonished crowds – including a few particularly keen young men armed with notepads and very sensible rainwear – and suddenly it’s a matter of national importance that the trains run on time. Moist does not enjoy hard work. 

The Shepherd’s Crown

Available as an eBook

A SHIVERING OF WORLDS Deep in the Chalk, something is stirring. The owls and the foxes can sense it, and Tiffany Aching feels it in her boots. An old enemy is gathering strength. This is a time of endings and beginnings, old friends and new, a blurring of edges and a shifting of power. Now Tiffany stands between the light and the dark, the good and the bad. As the fairy horde prepares for invasion, Tiffany must summon all the witches to stand with her. To protect the land. Her land. There will be a reckoning . . . THE FINAL DISCWORLD NOVEL 

The Long Earth

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1916: the Western Front. Private Percy Blakeney wakes up. He is lying on fresh spring grass. He can hear birdsong, and the wind in the leaves in the trees. Where has the mud, blood and blasted landscape of No Man’s Land gone?  

2015: Madison, Wisconsin. Cop Monica Jansson is exploring the burned-out home of a reclusive – some said mad, others dangerous – scientist when she finds a curious gadget: a box containing some wiring, a three-way switch and a…potato. It is the prototype of an invention that will change the way Mankind views his world for ever.  

Long Cosmos

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2070-71. Nearly six decades after Step Day and in the Long Earth, the new Next post-human society continues to evolve. For Joshua Valienté, now in his late sixties, it is time to take one last solo journey into the High Meggers: an adventure that turns into a disaster. Alone and facing death, his only hope of salvation lies with a group of trolls. But as Joshua confronts his mortality, the Long Earth receives a signal from the stars. A signal that is picked up by radio astronomers but also in more abstract ways – by the trolls and by the Great Traversers. Its message is simple but ts implications are enormous:JOIN US.Bit by bit, byte by byte, they assemble a computer the size of a continent – a device that will alter the Long Earth’s place within the cosmos and reveal the ultimate, life-affirming goal of those who sent the Message. Its impact will be felt by and resonate with all – mankind and other species, young and old, communities and individuals – who inhabit the Long Earths…

A Slip on the Keyboard

Available as an eBook

With a foreword by Neil GaimanTerry Pratchett has earned a place in the hearts of readers the world over with his bestselling Discworld series – but in recent years he has become equally well-known and respected as an outspoken campaigner for causes including Alzheimer’s research and animal rights. A Slip of the Keyboard brings together for the first time the finest examples of Pratchett’s non fiction writing, both serious and surreal: from musings on mushrooms to what it means to be a writer (and why banana daiquiris are so important); from memories of Granny Pratchett to speculation about Gandalf’s love life, and passionate defences of the causes dear to him.With all the humour and humanity that have made his novels so enduringly popular, this collection brings Pratchett out from behind the scenes of the Discworld to speak for himself – man and boy, bibliophile and computer geek, champion of hats, orang-utans and Dignity in Dying.

Good Omens

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Events have been set in motion to bring about the End of Days. The armies of Good and Evil are gathering and making their way towards the sleepy English village of Lower Tadfield. The Four Horsepersons of the Apocalypse – War, Famine, Pollution and Death – are assembling.

Dodger

Available as an eBook

Dodger is a tosher – a sewer scavenger living in the squalor of Dickensian London. Everyone who is nobody knows Dodger. Anyone who is anybody doesn’t. But when he rescues a young girl from a beating, suddenly everybody wants to know him. And Dodger’s tale of skulduggery, dark plans and even darker deeds begins . . . 

Truckers

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‘Outside! What’s it like?’ Masklin looked blank. ‘Well,’ he said. ‘It’s sort of big-‘To the thousands of the tiny nomes who live under the floorboards of a large department store, there is no Outside. Things like Day and Night, Sun and Rain are just daft old legends.Then a devastating piece of news shatters their existence: the Store – their whole world – is to be demolished. And it’s up to Maskin, one of the last nomes to come into the Store, to mastermind an unbelievable escape plan that will take all the nomes into the dangers of the great Outside…

Diggers

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When humans threaten their new home in the quarry, the natural thing would be to run and hide. But the nomes have got the wild idea that they should fight back. After all, everyone knows that nomes are faster and smarter than humans, and now they have a secret weapon . . . 

Only you can Save Mankind

Available as an eBook

As the mighty alien fleet from the latest computer game thunders across the screen, Johnny prepares to blow them into the usual million pieces. And they send him a message: We surrender.  

They’re not supposed to do that! They’re supposed to die. And computer joysticks don’t have ‘Don’t Fire’ buttons . . . 

But it’s only a game, isn’t it. Isn’t it? 

The Witch’s Vacuum Cleaner

Available as an eBook

Poor Mr Swimble is having a bad day. Rabbits are bouncing out of his hat, pigeons are flying out of his jacket and every time he points his finger, something magically appears – cheese sandwiches, socks . . . even a small yellow elephant on wheels! It’s becoming a real nuisance – and he’s allergic to rabbits. His friends at the Magic Rectangle can’t help, but the mysterious vacuum cleaner he saw that morning may have something to do with it . . .

The Carpet People

Available as an eBook and an eAudiobook

In the beginning, there was nothing but endless flatness. Then came the Carpet . . . 
That’s the old story everyone knows and loves. But now the Carpet is home to many different tribes and peoples and there’s a new story in the making. The story of Fray, sweeping a trail of destruction across the Carpet. The story of power-hungry mouls – and of two Munrung brothers, who set out on an amazing adventure. 
It’s a story that will come to a terrible end – if someone doesn’t do something about it. If everyone doesn’t do something about it . . . 

Dragons at Crumbling Castle

Available as an eBook

Dragons have invaded Crumbling Castle, and all of King Arthur’s knights are either on holiday or visiting their grannies. It’s a disaster! Luckily, there’s a spare suit of armour and a very small boy called Ralph who’s willing to fill it. Together with Fortnight the Friday knight and Fossfiddle the wizard, Ralph sets out to defeat the fearsome fire-breathers.  
But there’s a teeny weeny surprise in store . . . 

He’d heard that writers spent all day in their dressing gowns drinking champagne. This is, of course, absolutely true.

Terry Pratchett, Snuff

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