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Terry Pratchett. Powell's
Creative Commons AttributionTerry Pratchett. Powell's - Credit: firepile / Robin Zebrowski

Born in 1948 in Buckinghamshire, England, Sir Terence David John Pratchett, commonly known as Terry Pratchett, has become a renowned figure in fantasy writing. He sold his first story at age thirteen, and with the proceeds he bought a typewriter. The Carpet People, his first novel, was published in 1971; The Colour of Magic, first in the long line of Discworld novels, was published in 1983. Pratchett turned to writing full time in 1987, having previously worked as a journalist and press officer for many years.

His writing is known for its wit and comic narrative, especially in the popular, long-running Discworld series that has spawned over 36 titles. In the Author blurb of the Discworld novels, Pratchett is humorously noted for living “behind a keyboard in Wiltshire”. He credits Kenneth Graham, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, P.G. Wodehouse, G.K. Chesterton and Mark Twain among his inspirations and influences in literature.

A recipient of numerous awards, notably the Carnegie Medal for his young adult novel The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, Terry Pratchett was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1998, for “services to literature”. He is quoted in the Ansible SF/fan newsletter as commenting, “I suspect the ‘services to literature’ consisted of refraining from trying to write any". However, he did go on to say, “Still, I cannot help feeling mightily chuffed about it.”

Pratchett’s writing is now almost solely devoted to the fantasy genre. He has commented on the lack of respect the genre receives, saying it is “unregarded as a literary form,” though it is “the oldest form of fiction.”

In 2007, it was revealed that Pratchett is suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s. He has since filmed Terry Pratchett: Living With Alzheimer's, the first part of which broadcast in the UK in February 2009. Pratchett has publicly discussed the disease and his support for euthanasia tribunals for sufferers of terminal diseases. Despite this “buggerance” of a disease, he is keen to assist in changing the existing law to give sufferers the right to assisted dying. In a BBC interview he said, "I don't think people are particularly bothered about death, it's the life before death that worries us.”