Pratchett, Terry (Sir)

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Sir Terence “Terry” David John Pratchett, OBE, was born in Buckinghamshire, England on April 28th 1948. He is most famously known for his Discworld series, which consists of more than 40 novels. His first novel, The Carpet People, was published in 1971 and some twelve years later Pratchett published his first Discworld volume: The Colour of Magic. As a Science Fiction writer he published The Dark Side of the Sun and Strata in 1976 and 1981 respectively but it was as comedic fantasy writer that he cemented his writing credentials. More recently he returned to Science Fiction with The Long Earth series which he co-wrote with Stephen Baxter (who also co-wrote many novels with Arthur C Clarke and who is a recognised SF writer in his own right, usually writing Hard SF). 

He is the only child of David and Eileen Pratchett. The family moved to Bridgwater, Somerset for a while in 1957 where Sir Terry passed his eleven plus exam in 1959. This earned him a place in John Hampden Grammar School. Early interests of the young writer included astronomy, though could not pursue his ambition to be an astronomer as he lacked the necessary maths skills. This led to reading British and American science fiction, including works by H. G. Wells and Arthur Conan Doyle.

Pratchett has 5 O-levels and started A-levels in Art, English and History. His first choice in a career was journalism and started working for the Bucks Free Press in 1965 using the name Uncle Jim for his stories in the Children’s Circle section.

Although Sir Terry is an author in Science Fiction and Fantasy, it is through his comical twist on everyday circumstances that has made him one of the United Kingdom’s (perhaps the world too) top selling authors. Snuff (another Discworld novel) on its release was the third-fastest-selling hardback in adult-audience since records began. It sold 55,000 copies in three days. On average, since 1983, he has written two novels. Many of his stories, including The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, have been made into film adaptations.

To follow on with his great achievements, Pratchett was the UK’s bestselling author in the 1990s and altogether has sold over 85 million books worldwide in 37 languages. Currently the second most-read writer in the UK and in the US, he is the seventh most-read non-US author. Characters such as Death (WHO ALWAYS SPEAKS IN CAPITALS), Mort, Rincewind, Granny Weatherwax, The Librarian, Commander Vimes of the Watch and even the Death of Rats have earned him a loyal following.

His OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) was appointed in 1998 and he was knighted for services to literature (as a Knight Bachelor) in the Queen’s 2009 New Year Honours. 2001 saw him win the Carnegie Medal for his first Discworld book audiencing children: The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents. A year later, 2010, Pratchett received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement.

In late 2007, Pratchett announced that he had been diagnosed with a rare form of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. It has not impaired his ability to write, however, as the disease progresses his newest novels are written with the help of Terry’s assistant, Rob. In March 2008, he donated US$1,000,000 to the Alzheimer’s Research Trust. He has appeared in a two-part documentary, working with the BBC, on his life and living with Alzheimer’s and also presented a debate on the subject of assisted dying on the Dimbleby lectures which the assistance of a stun Pratchett (Tony Robinson) to read his speech as he was unable to do so due to his condition.

As well astronomy, Sir Terry first used computers for writing as soon as they were available. He is also one of the first authors to routinely use the internet to interact with fans. A fascination in natural history has led him to have a greenhouse full of carnivorous plants and palaeontologist, Richard Köhler, named a fossil sea-turtle Psephophorus terrypratchetti in Pratchett’s honour in 1995.

Orangutans (including his character The Librarian a wizard who, in a magical accident, got turned into an Orangutan and stayed in that form as the long arms and gripping toes made his work that much easier) are another interest of Pratchett’s. He is a trustee for the Orangutan Foundation UK; this has led to fan events adopting the Orangutan Foundation as their nominated charity. The passion for seeing Orangutans in the wild led Pratchett and his assistant Rob to venture to Borneo (one natural home for the beautiful orange apes) where he went in search of seeing an adult male in the wild. 

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Written by MISThomas

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