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Author Spotlight: Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett was one of UK’s most popular authors in the 1990s. His claim to fame is the Discworld novels, a fantasy series spanning 40 volumes.

Born in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, on April 28, 1948, Terry’s full name is Terene David John Pratchett. He opted for a technical high school rather than grammar school because he felt “woodwork would be more fun in Latin.” Back then, he had no real idea of what he wanted to do in life but had a keen interest in radio. In the 1960s, he and his father, David, belonged to the Chiltern Amateur Radio Club, with their joint handle being “Home-brew R1155.” From this, Terry developed an interest in computers. He used to save his pocket money in order to buy parts to build his own radio. His writing talent was first recognized by one of his teachers. His name appeared in print for the first time when he was fourteen.

In December 1962, his short story Business Rivals was published in an issue of the Technical Cygnet. Nine months later, the same story was developed and published The Hades Business in Science Fantasy’s August 1963 issue. This led him to buying his first typewriter and set him on the road to becoming a successful writer.

After earning five O-levels and starting A-level courses in art, history, and English, he tried journalism. He left school in 1965 to take a job opportunity on the Bucks Free Press. The Cygnet reported this premature departure later as “the loss of one of our greatest characters.”

While with the Press, Terry interviewed Peter Bander van Duren, one of the directors for Colin Smythe Limited. During the interview, he mentioned a book he had written called The Carpet People. He was offered a contract soon after and was also asked to illustrate the book. This was published in 1970. In 1983, The Colour of Magic was published, followed by The Light Fantastic in 1986.

Good Omens, a collaboration with Neil Gaiman, was published in 1990. The book was a black comedy tackling the apocalypse. By then, the world of Discworld slowly grew, with models, figurines, and pewter miniatures produced by companies such as Clarecraft Designs and Micro-Art Studios.

Terry’s 22nd Discworld novel The Last Continent was published in May 1998 and was on the number 1 position of Britain’s hardcover fiction bestseller list. His next two books, Carpe Jugulum and Jingo also held the same position for four weeks. This cemented Terry’s place as the best-selling living fiction author in Britain in the 1990s.

Other than writing, Terry also supported different causes. He traveled to the Borneo in 1995 with a film crew in support of the Orangutan Foundation. In 2007, Terry revealed that he’d suffered a stroke and had been diagnosed with a rare variant of Alzheimer’s disease. This become another advocacy for him. He continued to appear on television, being interviewed about his thoughts regarding the disease and the government’s action toward its treatment, highlighting that it was inadequate. Terry became a voice for dementia research in the UK.

In his final years, he continued to write despite his declining health. By the time he passed away on March 12, 2015, he authored 59 books, 52 of which were novels, and co-authored 30 more. He had 22 published stage adaptations, eight television series, around twenty BBC radio adaptations and readings, two musicals, four graphic novels, and four TV documentaries.



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