Terry Pratchett was born 70 years ago

Terry Pratchett in 2012 (photo ©Luigi Novi / Wikimedia Commons)
Terry Pratchett in 2012 (photo ©Luigi Novi / Wikimedia Commons)

Terence David John Pratchett was born on April 28, 1948 in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England. Among his first interests there was astronomy and for some time he thought about working in that field but didn’t have the mathematical skills he needed. Among his readings there were the classics of science fiction and for some years he attended sci-fi conventions. Already during his teen-years he started writing short stories but his first job was as a journalist.

In 1968, Terry Pratchett married Lyn Purves and the two of them had a daughter, Rhianna, who also became a writer.

Almost accidentally, during an interview with a publisher, Terry Pratchett said he had written a novel and in 1971 it was published as “The Carpet People”. It’s a comic fantasy novel that contains some elements that later became typical of the author’s works. The novel was substantially revised and published in a new edition in 1992.

In the following years, Terry Pratchett published two science fiction novels, “The Dark Side of the Sun” in 1976 and “Strata” in 1981. In 1983 he published the first Discworld novel, “The Color of Magic”, whose fame was increased by a radio adaptation broadcast by the BBC. Pratchett wrote more novels set in the same fictional universe and after a few years decided to pursue a career as a full-time writer.

Writing Discworld novels became Terry Pratchett’s main occupation. That fictional universe is common to all the books and various characters appear in several novels in a series that can be divided into several cycles: Rincewind, Death, Witches, City Watch, Wizards, Tiffany Aching and Moist von Lipwig. Some other novels in the series are not included in any particular cycle.

Occasionally, Terry Pratchett has also written other novels and even two trilogies of children’s fantasy: the Little People one, formed by the novels “Truckers” (1989), “Diggers” (1990) and “Wings” (1990) and the Johnny Maxwell one, formed by the novels “Only You Can Save Mankind” (1992), “Johnny and the Dead” (1993) and “Johnny and the Bomb” (1993).

Occasionally, Terry Pratchett collaborated with other writers. In 1990 the novel “Good Omens” was published, written together with Neil Gaiman, a comic fantasy / horror and above all a parody of works about the apocalypse.

Over the years, Terry Pratchett’s efforts remained focused mainly on the works of the Discworld series and the last one, the novel “The Shepherd’s Crown”, was published in 2015. Several years earlier conventions about this fictional universe started where the author could meet his fans.

For the merits acquired with his activity in the field of literature, Terry Pratchett received not only a numbher of awards but also the honors of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and the title Knight Bachelor.

In 2007, Terry Pratchett announced that he had been diagnosed with the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. The experience of the disease led him to support organizations engaged in research on it and to talk about it in a BBC program.

Terry Pratchett’s work continued almost to the end of his life, dictating texts to his assistant or using a speech recognition system. In recent years he returned to science fiction in a collaboration with Stephen Baxter in the Long Earth series, which began with “The Long Earth“, the first of five novels of which two were published after Pratchett’s death, which occurred March 12, 2015. The writer had a humanist funeral.

Terry Pratchett wrote a few science fiction works because his activity was definitely focused on fantasy works and in this field he left a great legacy of works produced with his unique style.

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