In over 70 books, translated into at least 37 languages, Sir Terry Pratchett, whose death was announced yesterday, enriched the planet like few before him. “As all who read him know, Discworld was his vehicle to satirise this world,” noted Larry Finlay, Managing Director of Transworld, his publisher. “He did so brilliantly, with great skill, enormous humour and constant invention.”
Like many others, I’m grateful I was able to meet him and enjoy his wit and wisdom first hand, if only once, sharing a curry with him in Lancaster on one of his visits to Interstellar Master Traders – a small shop (now only trading online), which he supported despite being able to sign in larger venues because of owner Peter Pinto’s support for him during his early career. That dedication to his friends alone speaks volumes about the man.
Terry will be much missed by so very many. My sympathies go out to Terry’s wife Lyn, daughter Rhianna, to his close friend Rob Wilkins, and to all others closest to him.
Sir Terry wrote an average of two books a year and, the Press Association notes, also held the dubious honour of being the most shoplifted author in Britain.
The Colour of Magic, The Light Fantastic (collected in The Discworld Graphic Novels: The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic: 25th Anniversary Edition in 2008), Mort and Guards! Guards!: A Discworld Graphic Novel were adapted into graphic novels and his works have inspired many memorable visual interpretations, by artists such as Paul Kidby, his books most recent cover artist in the UK, Marc Simonetti, and Josh Kirby, the original and brilliant Discworld cover art painter.
Terry passed away in his home, with his cat sleeping on his bed surrounded by his family on 12th March 2015. Diagnosed with Posterior Cortical Atrophy in 2007 – a progressive degenerative condition involving the loss and dysfunction of brain cells, particularly at the back of the brain – he battled the disease with his trademark determination and creativity, and continued to write.
He completed his last book, The Shepherd’s Crown, a new Discworld novel, in the summer of 2014, before succumbing to the final stages of the disease.
The final tweets posted on his official Twitter account were a poignant farewell to his many fans, scheduled to appear one after the other, the Discworld author ended his life as he spent it: by writing a story.
AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER.
— Terry Pratchett (@terryandrob) March 12, 2015
Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night. — Terry Pratchett (@terryandrob) March 12, 2015
— Terry Pratchett (@terryandrob) March 12, 2015
The End. — Terry Pratchett (@terryandrob) March 12, 2015
Terry faced his Alzheimer’s (an “embuggerance”, as he called it) publicly and bravely and was a fervent supporter of research into the disease by the Alzheimer’s Society.
“He was my friend for thirty years and a month,” tweeted author Neil Gaiman, whose last project with him was an adaptation of Good Omens for BBC Radio 4 last year. “I miss him. Donate to Alzheimer’s research and make it so things like this don’t happen.
“There was nobody like him,” he also said in an initial tribute. “I was fortunate to have written a book with him, when we were younger, which taught me so much.
“Over the last few years, it was his writing that sustained him,” commented Larry Finlay, Managing Director of Transworld Publishers, in his tribute. “I was deeply saddened to learn that Sir Terry Pratchett has died. The world has lost one of its brightest, sharpest minds.”
“Sir Terry Pratchett fundamentally changed the way dementia is seen and understood,” commented Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society. “The most passionate of campaigners to bring change; his vehement determination to reduce the stigma of dementia meant he helped drag it out of the shadows – kicking and screaming at times. He has made a remarkable contribution to dementia since his diagnosis in late 2007. Shouting from the rooftops about the absurdity of how little funding dementia research receives, and fighting for good quality dementia care, he was and will remain the truest of champions for people with the condition.
“During the many times Terry supported Alzheimer’s Society, publicly and privately, I was struck by his passion, resilience and courage to fight and kill the demon of dementia. When thanked for his work, he’d simply smile and shake his head modestly, insisting it was nothing. Never dwelling on his own dementia, he used his voice to shout out for others when they could not.”
In an interview for the New Statesman in 2012, Sir Terry reassured fans about the future of the Discworld series. His daughter Rhianna, already an author and comics writer and who was co-writer on the BBC Discworld series The Watch, will take over the novels as Sir Terry said he was happy for her to write on after he was no longer able to.
“The Discworld is safe in my daughter’s hands,” he said.
Terry’s last Discworld novel, The Shepherd’s Crown, will be the fifth novel within the series to centreon the character of Tiffany Aching and is expected to be published in September 2015.
• A Just Giving page donating to the Research Institute to the Care of Older People (RICE) has been set up in Sir Terry Pratchett’s memory by his publicist, Lynsey Dalladay: https://www.justgiving.com/Terry-Pratchett
• Sir Terry Pratchett: Official Site – http://www.pjsmprints.com
The free monthly on-line newsletter about the best selling author Sir Terry Pratchett and his expansive collection of brilliantly written novels. Discworld Monthly was created in May 1997 with the aim of keeping fans informed about the latest happenings in the world of Discworld and Terry Pratchett.
• Wikipedia: The DiscWorld Novels (and suggestions of reading order)
The next DiscWorld Convention will take place in August 2016
DON’T THINK OF IT AS DYING, said Death. JUST THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH. – TERRY PRATCHETT (1948-2015)
— The QI Elves (@qikipedia) March 12, 2015