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  • Terry Pratchett Sir Terence David John "Terry" Pratchett,

  • OBE is an English author of fantasy novels, especially comical works. He is best known

  • for the Discworld series of about 40 volumes. Pratchett's first novel, The Carpet People,

  • was published in 1971, and since his first Discworld novel was published in 1983, he

  • has written two books a year on average. His Discworld book, Snuff, was at the time of

  • its release the third-fastest-selling hardback adult-audience novel since records began in

  • the United Kingdom, selling 55,000 copies in the first three days.

  • Pratchett was the UK's best-selling author of the 1990s, and has sold over 85 million

  • books worldwide in 37 languages. He is currently the second most-read writer in the UK, and

  • seventh most-read non-US author in the US. Pratchett was appointed Officer of the Order

  • of the British Empire (OBE) in 1998 and was knighted for services to literature in the

  • 2009 New Year Honours. In 2001 he won the annual Carnegie Medal for The Amazing Maurice

  • and his Educated Rodents, the first Discworld book marketed for children. He received the

  • World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 2010.

  • In December 2007, Pratchett announced that he was suffering from early-onset Alzheimer's

  • disease. Subsequently he made a substantial public donation to the Alzheimer's Research

  • Trust, and filmed a programme chronicling his experiences with the disease for the BBC.

  • Background Early life

  • Pratchett was born in 1948 in Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire, England, the only child

  • of David and Eileen Pratchett, of Hay-on-Wye. His family moved to Bridgwater, Somerset briefly

  • in 1957, following which he passed his eleven plus exam in 1959, earning him a place in

  • John Hampden Grammar School. Pratchett described himself as a "non-descript student" and, in

  • his Who's Who entry, credits his education to the Beaconsfield Public Library.

  • His early interests included astronomy; he collected Brooke Bond tea cards about space,

  • owned a telescope and wanted to be an astronomer, but lacked the necessary mathematical skills.

  • However, this led to an interest in reading British and American science fiction. In turn,

  • this led to attending science fiction conventions from about 1963/4, which stopped when he got

  • his first job a few years later. His early reading included the works of H. G. Wells

  • and Arthur Conan Doyle and "every book you really ought to read" which he now regards

  • as "getting an education". At age 13, Pratchett published his first short

  • story "The Hades Business" in the school magazine. It was published commercially when he was

  • 15. Pratchett earned 5 O-levels and started A-level

  • courses in Art, English and History. Pratchett's first career choice was journalism and he

  • left school at 17 in 1965 to start working for the Bucks Free Press where he wrote, amongst

  • other things, several stories for the Children's Circle section under the name Uncle Jim. One

  • of these episodic stories contains named characters from The Carpet People. These stories are

  • currently part of a project by the Bucks Free Press to make them available online. While

  • on day release he finished his A-Level in English and took a proficiency course for

  • journalists. Early career

  • Pratchett had his first breakthrough in 1968, when working as a journalist. He came to interview

  • Peter Bander van Duren, co-director of a small publishing company. During the meeting, Pratchett

  • mentioned he had written a manuscript, The Carpet People. Bander van Duren and his business

  • partner, Colin Smythe (of Colin Smythe Ltd Publishers) published the book in 1971, with

  • illustrations by Pratchett himself. The book received strong, if few reviews. The book

  • was followed by the science fiction novels The Dark Side of the Sun, published in 1976,

  • and Strata, published in 1981. After various positions in journalism, in

  • 1980 Pratchett became Press Officer for the Central Electricity Generating Board in an

  • area which covered three nuclear power stations. He later joked that he had demonstrated "impeccable

  • timing" by making this career change so soon after the Three Mile Island nuclear accident

  • in Pennsylvania, U.S., and said he would "write a book about my experiences, if I thought

  • anyone would believe it". The first Discworld novel The Colour of Magic

  • was published in 1983 by Colin Smythe in hardback. The publishing rights for paperback were soon

  • taken by Corgi, an imprint of Transworld, the current publisher. Pratchett received

  • further popularity after the BBC's Woman's Hour broadcast The Colour of Magic as a serial

  • in six parts, after it was published by Corgi in 1985 and later Equal Rites. Subsequently,

  • rights for hardback were taken by the publishing house Victor Gollancz, which remained Pratchett's

  • publisher until 1997, and Smythe became Pratchett's agent. Pratchett was the first fantasy author

  • published by Gollancz. Pratchett gave up working for the CEGB in

  • 1987 after finishing the fourth Discworld novel, Mort, to focus fully on and make his

  • living through writing. His sales increased quickly and many of his books occupied top

  • places on the best-seller list. According to The Times, Pratchett was the top-selling

  • and highest earning UK author in 1996. Some of his books have been published by Doubleday,

  • another Transworld imprint. In the US, Pratchett is published by HarperCollins.

  • According to the Bookseller's Pocket Yearbook from 2005, in 2003 Pratchett's UK sales amounted

  • to 3.4% of the fiction market by hardback sales and 3.8% by value, putting him in second

  • place behind J. K. Rowling (6% and 5.6% respectively), while in the paperback sales list Pratchett

  • came 5th with 1.2% by sales and 1.3% by value (behind James Patterson (1.9% and 1.7%), Alexander

  • McCall Smith, John Grisham and J. R. R. Tolkien). His sales in the UK alone are more than 2.5 million

  • copies a year. Current life

  • Terry Pratchett married his wife Lyn in 1968, and they moved to Rowberrow, Somerset, in

  • 1970. Their daughter Rhianna Pratchett, who is also a writer, was born there in 1976.

  • In 1993 the family moved to Broad Chalke, a village west of Salisbury, Wiltshire, where

  • they currently live. He lists his recreations as "writing, walking, computers, life". He

  • describes himself as a humanist and is a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association

  • and an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society. He is the patron of the Friends

  • of High Wycombe Library. Pratchett is well known for his penchant for

  • wearing large, black fedora hats, as seen on the inside back covers of most of his books.

  • His style has been described as "more that of urban cowboy than city gent."

  • Concern for the future of civilisation has prompted him to install five kilowatts of

  • photovoltaic cells (for solar energy) at his house. In addition, his interest in astronomy

  • since childhood has led him to build an observatory in his garden. An asteroid (127005 Pratchett)

  • is named after him. On 31 December 2008 it was announced that

  • Pratchett was to be knighted (as a Knight Bachelor) in the Queen's 2009 New Year Honours.

  • He formally received the accolade at Buckingham Palace on 18 February 2009. Afterwards he

  • said, "You can't ask a fantasy writer not to want a knighthood. You know, for two pins

  • I'd get myself a horse and a sword." In late 2009, he did make himself a sword, with the

  • help of his friends. He told a Times Higher Education interviewer that "'At the end of

  • last year I made my own sword. I dug out the iron ore from a field about 10 miles away

  • - I was helped by interested friends. We lugged 80 kilos of iron ore, used clay from the garden

  • and straw to make a kiln, and lit the kiln with wildfire by making it with a bow.' Colin

  • Smythe, his long-term friend and agent, donated some pieces of meteoric iron - 'thunderbolt

  • iron has a special place in magic and we put that in the smelt, and I remember when we

  • sawed the iron apart it looked like silver. Everything about it I touched, handled and

  • so forth... And everything was as it should have been, it seemed to me.'"

  • Alzheimer's disease In August 2007 Pratchett was misdiagnosed

  • as having had a minor stroke in 2004 or 2005 that was believed to have damaged the right

  • side of his brain. While his motor skills had been affected, the observed damage had

  • not impaired his ability to write. On 11 December 2007, Pratchett posted online that he had

  • been newly diagnosed with a very rare form of early-onset Alzheimer's disease, which

  • he said "lay behind this year's phantom 'stroke'." He has a rare form of the disease called posterior

  • cortical atrophy, in which areas at the back of the brain begin to shrink and shrivel.

  • Describing it as an 'embuggerance' in a radio interview, Pratchett appealed to people to

  • "keep things cheerful", and proclaimed that "we are taking it fairly philosophically down

  • here and possibly with a mild optimism." Leading the way, Pratchett stated that he feels he

  • has time for "at least a few more books yet", and added that while he understands the impulse

  • to ask 'is there anything I can do?', in this particular case he will only entertain such

  • offers from "very high-end experts in brain chemistry." Discussing his diagnosis at the

  • Bath Literature Festival in early 2008, Pratchett revealed that he now found it too difficult

  • to write dedications when signing books. In March 2008, Pratchett announced he was

  • donating US$1,000,000 (about £494,000 at the time) to the Alzheimer's Research Trust,

  • saying that he had spoken to at least three brain tumour survivors yet he had spoken to

  • no survivors of Alzheimer's disease, and that he was shocked "to find out that funding for

  • Alzheimer's research is just 3% of that to find cancer cures." Of his donation Pratchett

  • said: "I am, along with many others, scrabbling to stay ahead long enough to be there when

  • the Cure comes along." In April 2008, the BBC began working with

  • Pratchett to make a two-part documentary series based on his illness. The first part of Terry

  • Pratchett: Living With Alzheimer's was broadcast on BBC Two on 4 February 2009, drawing 2.6m

  • viewers and a 10.4% audience share. The second, broadcast on 11 February 2009, drew 1.72m

  • viewers and a 6.8% audience share. The programme won a BAFTA award in the Factual Series category.

  • He also made an appearance on The One Show on 15 May 2008, talking about his condition.

  • He was the subject and interviewee of the 20 May 2008 edition of On the Ropes (Radio

  • 4), discussing Alzheimer's and how it had affected his life.

  • On 8 June 2008, news reports indicated that Pratchett had an experience, which he described

  • as: "It is just possible that once you have got past all the gods that we have created

  • with big beards and many human traits, just beyond all that, on the other side of physics,

  • there just may be the ordered structure from which everything flows" and "I don't actually

  • believe in anyone who could have put that in my head". He went into further detail on

  • Front Row, in which he was asked if this was a shift in his beliefs: "A shift in me in

  • the sense I heard my father talk to me when I was in the garden one day. But I'm absolutely

  • certain that what I heard was my memories of my father. An engram, or something in my

  • head...This is not about God, but somewhere around there is where gods come from."

  • On 26 November 2008, Pratchett met the Prime Minister Gordon Brown and asked for an increase

  • in dementia research funding. Since August 2008 Pratchett has been testing

  • a prototype device to address his condition. Despite some improvements in his condition,

  • the ability of the device to alter the course of the illness has been met with scepticism.

  • In an article published mid-2009, Pratchett stated that he wishes to commit 'assisted

  • suicide' (although he dislikes that term) before his disease progresses to a critical

  • point. Pratchett was selected to give the 2010 BBC Richard Dimbleby Lecture, entitled

  • Shaking Hands With Death, which was broadcast on 1 February 2010. Pratchett introduced his

  • lecture on the topic of assisted death, but the main text was read by his friend Tony

  • Robinson because of difficulties Pratchett has with reading – a result of his condition.

  • Because of his condition, Pratchett currently writes either by dictating to his assistant,

  • Rob Wilkins, or by using speech recognition software.

  • In June 2011 Pratchett presented a one-off BBC television documentary entitled Terry

  • Pratchett: Choosing to Die on the subject of assisted death. It won the Best Documentary

  • award at the Scottish BAFTAs in November 2011. He has also stated several times that, when

  • he dies, he wishes to hear Thomas Tallis's Spem in alium played in the background.

  • In September 2012 Pratchett stated in an interview "“I have to tell you that I thought I’d

  • be a lot worse than this by now, and so did my specialist." In the interview it was stated

  • that the cognitive part of his mind was "untouched", and his symptoms relating to the condition

  • were physical (which is normal for PCA) and that putting a book together was actually

  • better and easier now that it was done by dictation.

  • Interests Computers and the Internet

  • Pratchett started to use computers for writing as soon as they were available to him. His

  • first computer was a Sinclair ZX81, the first computer he used properly for writing was

  • an Amstrad CPC 464, later replaced by a PC. Pratchett was one of the first authors routinely

  • to use the Internet to communicate with fans, and has been a contributor to the Usenet newsgroup

  • alt.fan.pratchett since 1992. However, he does not consider the Internet a hobby, just

  • another "thing to use". He now has many computers in his house. When he travels, he always takes

  • a portable computer with him to write. His experiments with computer upgrades are reflected

  • in Hex. Pratchett is also an avid video game player,

  • and collaborated in the creation of a number of game adaptations of his books. He favours

  • games that are "intelligent and have some depth", citing Half-Life 2 and fan missions

  • from Thief as examples. Natural history

  • Pratchett has a fascination with natural history that he has referred to many times. Pratchett

  • owns a greenhouse full of carnivorous plants. In 1995, a fossil sea-turtle from the Eocene

  • epoch of New Zealand was named in honour of him Psephophorus terrypratchetti by the palaeontologist

  • Richardhler. Orangutans

  • Pratchett is a trustee for the Orangutan Foundation UK but is pessimistic about the animal's future.

  • Following Pratchett's lead, fan events such as the Discworld Conventions have adopted

  • the Orangutan Foundation as their nominated charity, which has been acknowledged by the

  • foundation. One of Pratchett's most popular fictional characters, the Librarian of the

  • Unseen University's Library, is a wizard who was transformed into an orangutan in a magical

  • accident and decides to remain in that condition as it is so convenient for his work.

  • Amateur astronomy Pratchett has an observatory in his back garden

  • and is a keen astronomer. He has appeared on the BBC programme The Sky at Night.

  • Writing career Awards

  • Pratchett received a knighthood for "services to literature" in the 2009 UK New Year Honours

  • list. He was previously appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire, also for

  • "services to literature", in 1998. Following this, Pratchett commented in the Ansible SF/fan

  • newsletter, "I suspect the 'services to literature' consisted of refraining from trying to write

  • any" (suggesting the title was more a recognition of success, than an acknowledgement of the

  • fantasy genre). But then added, "Still, I cannot help feeling mightily chuffed about

  • it." Pratchett was the British Book Awards' 'Fantasy

  • and Science Fiction Author of the Year' for 1994.

  • Pratchett won the British Science Fiction Award in 1989 for his novel, Pyramids, and

  • a Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel in 2008 for Making Money.

  • Pratchett has been awarded nine honorary Doctorates; University of Warwick in 1999, the University

  • of Portsmouth in 2001, the University of Bath in 2003, the University of Bristol in 2004,

  • Buckinghamshire New University in 2008, the University of Dublin in 2008, Bradford University

  • in 2009, University of Winchester in 2009 and The Open University in 2013 for his contribution

  • to Public Service. Pratchett won the 2001 Carnegie Medal from

  • the British librarians, recognising The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents as the year's

  • best children's book published in the U.K. Night Watch won the 2003 Prometheus Award

  • for best libertarian novel. In 2003, BBC conducted The Big Read to identify

  • the "Nation's Best-loved Novel" and finally published a ranked list of the "Top 200".

  • Pratchett's highest-ranking novel was Mort, number 65, but he and Charles Dickens were

  • the only authors with five in the Top 100 (four of his were from the Discworld series).

  • He also led all authors with fifteen novels in the Top 200.

  • Three of the four Discworld novels that centre on the "trainee witch" Tiffany Aching won

  • the annual Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book in 2004, 2005 and 2007.

  • In 2005, Going Postal was shortlisted for the Hugo Award for Best Novel; however, Pratchett

  • recused himself, stating that stress over the award would mar his enjoyment of Worldcon.

  • Pratchett received the NESFA Skylark Award in 2009 and the World Fantasy Award for Life

  • Achievement in 2010. In 2011 he won Margaret A. Edwards Award from the American Library

  • Association, a lifetime honour for "significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature".

  • The librarians cited nine Discworld novels published from 1983 to 2004 and observed that

  • "Pratchett’s tales of Discworld have won over generations of teen readers with intelligence,

  • heart, and undeniable wit. Comic adventures that fondly mock the fantasy genre, the Discworld

  • novels expose the hypocrisies of contemporary society in an intricate, ever-expanding universe.

  • With satisfyingly multilayered plots, Pratchett's humor honors the intelligence of the reader.

  • Teens eagerly lose themselves in a universe with no maps."

  • He was made an adjunct Professor in the School of English at Trinity College Dublin in 2010,

  • with a role in postgraduate education in creative writing and popular literature.

  • I Shall Wear Midnight won the 2010 Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and

  • Fantasy presented by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) as a part

  • of the Nebula Award ceremony. Fandom

  • Pratchett's Discworld novels have led to dedicated conventions, the first in Manchester in 1996,

  • then worldwide, often with the author as guest of honour. Publication of a new novel may

  • also be accompanied by an international book signing tour; queues have been known to stretch

  • outside the bookshop and the author has continued to sign books well after the intended finishing

  • time. His fans are not restricted by age or gender, and he receives a large amount of

  • fan mail from them. Pratchett enjoys meeting fans and hearing what they think about his

  • books; he says that since he is well paid for his novels, his fans "are everything to

  • me." Writing