Biography

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The man himself

Sir Terence David John Pratchett, OBE (let's acknowledge it here, just once, but hereinafter, I'm sure he won't mind if we leave it as plain Terry?) a prolific British author of comedy fantasy (28 April 1948 – 12 March 2015).

Blurbs

Over the years several versions of the cover text which describes the author were printed.

  • 1990, The Colour of Magic, Corgi: Terry Pratchett is, on average, a sort of youngish middle-aged. He lives in Somerset with his wife and daughter, and long ago chose journalism as a career because it was indoor work with no heavy lifting. Beyond that he positively refuses to be drawn. People never read these biographies anyway, do they? They want to get on with the book, not wade through masses of prose designed to suggest that the author is really a very interesting person so look, okay, he wrote these other books, all right, they were The Carpet People (for kids), The Dark Side of the Sun, The Light Fantastic, Equal Rites, Mort, Sourcery and Wyrd Sisters. The last five were about the Discworld, and actually quite a lot of people liked them. He grows carnivorous plants as a hobby; they are a lot less interesting than people believe. * For those who really need to know, Terry Pratchett was born in Buckinghamshire in 1948. He's managed to avoid all interesting jobs authors take in order to look good in this sort of biography. In search for a quiet life he got a job as a Press officer with the Central Electricity Generating Board just after Three Mile Island, which shows the unerring sense of timing. It's true about the carnivorous plants, though.
  • 1990, Good Omens, Corgi: For those who really need to know, Terry Pratchett was born in Buckinghamshire in 1948. He's managed to avoid all interesting jobs authors take in order to look good in this sort of biography. In search for a quiet life he got a job as a Press officer with the Central Electricity Generating Board just after Three Mile Island, which shows the unerring sense of timing. Now a full time writer, he lives in Wiltshire with his wife and daughter. He likes people to buy him banana daiquiris (he knows people don't read author biographies, but feels it might be worth a try).
  • 1994, Interesting Times, Corgi: Terry Pratchett was born in 1948 and still is not dead. He started work as a journalist one day in 1965 and saw his first corpse three hours later, work experience meaning something in those days. After doing just about every job it's possible to do in provincial journalism, except of course covering Saturday afternoon football, he joined the Central Electricity Generating Board and became press officer for four nuclear power stations. He'd write a book about his experiences if he thought anyone would believe it. All this came to an end in 1987 when it became obvious that the Discworld series was much more enjoyable than real work. Since then the books have reached double figures and have a regular place in the bestseller lists. He also writes books for younger readers. Occasionally he gets accused of literature. Terry Pratchett lives in Wiltshire with his wife Lyn and daughter Rhianna. He says writing is the most fun anyone can have by themselves.
  • 1998, Men at Arms, Doubleday: Terry Pratchett lives in the West Country, where he tries to write books in between answering his mail. He lives in constant dread that someone will discover how enjoyable he finds writing, and stop him doing it. He thinks the world could use more orang-utans. The carnivorous plants in the greenhouse are still doing well.
  • 1998, The Last Continent, Doubleday: Terry Pratchett is fifty and lives behind a keyboard in Wiltshire, where he answers letters in a desperate attempt to find the time to write. He used to grow carnivorous plants, but now they've taken over the greenhouse and he avoids going in. He feels it may be time to get a life, since apparently they're terrible useful.
  • 1999, The Fifth Elephant, Doubleday: Terry Pratchett is Britain's best-selling living novelist. He lives behind a keyboard in Wiltshire and says he 'doesn't want to get a life, because it feels as though he's trying to lead three already'. The Fifth Elephant is the twenty-fourth novel in his phenomenally successful Discworld series.
  • 2001, Thief of Time, Doubleday: Terry Pratchett is the author of the phenomenal Discworld series, and is Britain's best-selling living novelist. He was appointed OBE in 1998.
  • 2001, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, Doubleday: Terry Pratchett is one of the most popular authors writing today. The author of the phenomenally successful Discworld series, which is written for adults but is also read by many young readers, and a number of successful books for younger readers (which are also read by adults and have appeared on several major award shortlists). His trilogy for young readers, The Bromeliad, is being adapted into a spectacular animated movie. He lives behind a keyboard in Wiltshire and says he 'doesn't want to get a life, because it feels as though he's trying to lead three already'. He was appointed OBE in 1998.
  • 2004, A Hat Full of Sky, Doubleday: Terry Pratchett is one of the most popular authors writing today. He is particlarly well known for the phenomenally successful Discworld series, which includes two previous titles for younger readers The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, which won the 2001 Carnegie Medal, and The Wee Free Men, the first novel about Tiffany Aching and the Nac Mac Feegle. He has also written a number of other successful titles for younger readers, including the Bromeliad trilogy. Terry Patchett lives in Wiltshire, and finds the days are rather full.
  • 2004, Once More* *with Footnotes, NESFA Press: Terry Pratchett is the author of, mostly, the thirty-one novels in the Discworld series, which have something like 55,000,000 copies worldwide.
He began writing in his teens, but actually followed the advice that old writers give to new writers, which is: get another job to pay the bills. This may have been a bad idea because he chose newspaper journalism, which was great fun but gave him practically no spare time in which to write. So he got a job as a PR man in the UK's electricity supply industry, thinking that handling the Press for four nuclear power stations would be a nice quiet life.
This turned out to be untrue, because of some place called Three Mile Island.
Nevertheless, as a relaxation from the demands of his day-and-night job, he invented Discworld, a fantasy world with wizards, witches, heroes, dragons, and other mythological fauna, but where people act as if they are real. It sold so well that within a few years he was able to quit the day-and-night job because he was making more money from his hobby.
Since then he has published at a rate of, usually, two books a year. Most are in the Discworld series, but he also writes for children (The Johnny Maxwell books, The Bromeliad) and, with Neil Gaiman, co-authored Good Omens, a book about the lighter side of Armageddon which might just possibly turn into a movie before Armageddon happens for real.
While other ventures are planned, Discworld continues. In recent years it has split into "adult" and "children's" series. The difference between them is that one deals with serious themes, while the other one is for adults.
Terry Pratchett was born in England in the small town of Beaconsfield, currently being engulfed by London's sprawl, and now lives with his wife Lyn in Wiltshire, close enough to Stonehenge to find it boring. Their daughter Rhianna is a journalist, on the basis that it worked for her dad.
Since writing was his hobby, he doesn't actually have one now. However, he reads a lot, grows things, and last year achieved a boyhood dream by building an astronomical observatory in his garden. In 1998, he was awarded the OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for "services to literature." He suspects, however, that the best service he has done for literature is deny that he writes it.
  • 2011, Snuff, Doubleday: Terry Pratchett is the acclaimed creator of the Discworld series, started in 1983 with The Colour of Magic and now, with Snuff, numbering thirty-nine novels. Worldwide sales of his books are in excess of 70 million, and they have been translated into thirty-seven languages. Terry Pratchett was awarded an OBE in 1998, and was knighted for services to literature in 2009.

Other personal facts

In 1995 Terry had a fossilised species named after him Psephophorus terrypratchetti, fittingly it's a turtle.

Terry Pratchett on Desert Island Discs, 1997. Episode on the BBC Website, and the music chosen.

In 2002 Terry had an asteroid named after him: 127005 Pratchett.

In 2007, Terry Pratchett suffered a mild stroke, resulting in the ability to recall the lyrics of advertising jingles from 40 years ago and the inability to knot a tie. This diagnosis turned out to be inaccurate, however. On 11 December 2007, Terry announced that he had been diagnosed with a rare form of early-onset Alzheimer's disease. See here.

At the end of the announcement he writes, "I will, of course, be dead at some future point, as will everybody else. For me, this maybe further off than you think - it's too soon to tell."

Terry also filmed 'Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die', a documentary on euthanasia. In it he interviews several people with incurable conditions who are considering, or have considered, choosing the point of their own death. He also investigated Dignitas, a Swiss group who helps those with terminal or severe illnesses to die. Peter Smedley, hotelier and millionaire, allowed himself to be filmed consuming a barbiturate solution in order to end his own life.

Thursday, March 12th 2015: Sir Terry Pratchett died at home in Wiltshire following a long battle with Alzheimer's. BBC report, 3:26pm GMT

Sir Terry's coat of arms, chosen on the occasion of his knighthood

Arise, Sir Terry of Discworld!

On 31st December 2008, the annual New Year's Honours List announced that Terry Pratchett is to become Sir Terry Pratchett for services to English literature. (Guardian, London, 31/12/08).

Sir Terry is reported as being "absolutely flabbergasted" .

"There are times when phrases such as totally astonished just don't do the job. I am of course delighted and honoured and, needless to say, flabbergasted."

The Guardian also pointed to TP's work on behalf of Alzheimers' awareness, and hinted this may also have swung the decision.

In celebration of his knighthood Terry forged his own sword, as a real knight needs one of course. Terry forged it using with help from a local blacksmith using iron mined from a field near his home and pieces of meteorite, in a kiln that he built himself. According to Rhianna Pratchett the sword was christened 'Thunderbolt Iron.'

Memorial

Sir Terry passed away on the 12th of March 2015 leaving behind a huge legacy. A memorial in his honour was held on the 14th of April 2016 at the Barbican Theatre in London. The event was attended by friends, family and fans, notable speakers included his daughter Rhianna Pratchett, Rob Wilkins, Neil Gaiman and Tony Robinson. There was music by Steeleye Span and Eric Idle via video. There were several announcements to showcase that although Terry had shaken hands with death his work would continue and his legacy was in good hands; these included a biography on Terry by Rob Wilkins, Television adaptations of Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and The Watch TV Series by Narrativia, a movie adaptation of The Wee Free Men by Rhianna Pratchett and more. Sir Terry is gone but not forgotten.

A man is not dead while his name is still spoken. Speak his name.

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