Today brings very sad news for fans of the comedic fantasy book series Discworld, as Transworld Publishers has announced that author Sir Terry Pratchett has passed away at the age of 66. Pratchett was diagnosed with early-onset dementia in 2007, but continued writing and published several more books in the intervening years and completed his final Discworld novel last summer. He passed away at home, surrounded by his family and with his cat sleeping on his bed.
Pratchett was born in the town of Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, on April 28, 1948. He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1998 and was knighted for his services to literature in 2009. During his writing career he authored over 70 books with over 85 million copies sold worldwide. He is survived by his wife, Lyn, and his daughter, Rhianna.
Transworld Publisher’s managing director Larry Finlay made the following statement alongside the announcement of the news.
“I was deeply saddened to learn that Sir Terry Pratchett has died. The world has lost one of its brightest, sharpest minds… Terry enriched the planet like few before him. As all who read him know, Discworld was his vehicle to satirize this world: he did so brilliantly, with great skill, enormous humour and constant invention.
“Terry faced his Alzheimer’s disease (an ’embuggerance’, as he called it) publicly and bravely. Over the last few years, it was his writing that sustained him. His legacy will endure for decades to come.”
UK network Sky1 has produced several TV movies based on Pratchett’s Discworld books, including Hogfather, The Colour of Magic and Going Postal, and he had small cameo roles in each of them. Several other adaptations of his works have begun development in recent years, including TV series based on Unseen Academicals and The Watch, though the status of those projects is currently unknown.
Pratchett was open about his dementia diagnosis and in 2009 he appeared in a BBC documentary called Terry Pratchett: Living With Alzheimer’s. In 2008 he made a substantial donation to the Alzheimer’s Research Trust (now called Alzheimer’s Research UK) and in 2013 he launched the charity’s blog with a post discussing his own experiences and urging further government funding for Alzheimer’s research.
The character of Death was a popular fixture of the Discworld novels. To quote from Pratchett’s own words, “No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away.”
To quote Death himself, “I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT I COULD MURDER A CURRY.”
AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER.— Rhianna Pratchett (@rhipratchett) March 12, 2015
Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.— Rhianna Pratchett (@rhipratchett) March 12, 2015
The End.— Rhianna Pratchett (@rhipratchett) March 12, 2015
R.I.P. Sir Terence David John Pratchett: April 28th, 1948 – March 12th, 2015