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Sir Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett during his visit to Poland on 1 June 2004.
Born Terence David John Pratchett
28 April 1948 (1948-04-28) (age 61)
Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England, UK


Occupation Novelist
Nationality British
Genres Comic fantasy
Notable work(s) Discworld
Good Omens
Official website

Sir Terence David John Pratchett, OBE (born 28 April 1948),[3] more commonly known as Terry Pratchett, is an English[4] novelist, known for his frequently comical work in the fantasy genre. He is best-known for his popular and long-running Discworld series of comic fantasy novels. Pratchett's first novel, The Carpet People, was published in 1971, and since his first Discworld novel (The Colour of Magic) was published in 1983, he has written two books a year on average.

Pratchett was the UK's best-selling author of the 1990s,[5][6] and as of December 2007 had sold more than 55 million books worldwide,[7] with translations made into 36 languages.[8]

He is currently the second most-read writer in the UK, and seventh most-read non-US author in the US.[9] In 2001 he won the Carnegie Medal for his young adult novel The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents.[10]

Pratchett was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) "for services to literature" in 1998.[8] He was in addition knighted in the 2009 New Year Honours.[11][12] In December 2007, Pratchett publicly announced that he was suffering from early-onset Alzheimer's disease, subsequently making a substantial public donation to the Alzheimer's Research Trust,[13] and filming a programme chronicling his experiences with the disease for the BBC.[14]


Early life

Pratchett was born in 1948 in Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire, England, the only child of David and Eileen Pratchett, of Hay-on-Wye. His family moved to Bridgwater, Somerset briefly in 1957, following which he passed his eleven plus exam in 1959, earning him a place in John Hampden Grammar School.[15] Pratchett described himself as a "non-descript student", and in his Who's Who entry, credits his education to the Beaconsfield Public Library.[16]

His early interests included astronomy;[17] he collected Brooke Bond tea cards about space, owned a telescope[18] and desired to be an astronomer, but lacked the necessary mathematical skills.[17] However, this led to an interest in reading British and American science fiction.[18] In turn, this led to attending science fiction conventions from about 1963/4, which stopped when he got his first job a few years later.[18] His early reading included the works of H. G. Wells and Arthur Conan Doyle and "every book you really ought to read" which he now regards as "getting an education".[19]

At age 13, Pratchett published his first short story "The Hades Business" in the school magazine. It was published commercially when he was 15.[20]

Pratchett earned 5 O-levels and started A-level courses in Art, English and History. Pratchett's first career choice was journalism and he left school at 17 in 1965 to start working for the Bucks Free Press where he wrote, amongst other things, several stories for the Children's Circle section under the name Uncle Jim. One of these episodic stories contains named characters from The Carpet People. (Original copies of the Bucks Free Press containing the stories can be viewed at High Wycombe Library, Buckinghamshire.)[citation needed] While on day release he finished his A-Level in English and took a proficiency course for journalists.[21]

Early career

Pratchett got his first 'break' in 1968, when working as a journalist. He came to interview Peter Bander van Duren, co-director of a small publishing company. During the meeting, Pratchett mentioned he had written a manuscript, The Carpet People.[22] Bander van Duren and his business partner, Colin Smythe (of Colin Smythe Ltd Publishers) published the book in 1971, with illustrations by Pratchett himself.[21] The book received strong, if few reviews.[21] The book was followed by the science fiction novels The Dark Side of the Sun and Strata, published in 1976 and 1981, respectively.[21]

After various positions in journalism, in 1980 Pratchett became Press Officer for the Central Electricity Generating Board in an area which covered three nuclear power stations. He later joked that he had demonstrated "impeccable timing" by making this career change so soon after the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in Pennsylvania, USA, and said he would "write a book about his experiences, if he thought anyone would believe it".[23]

The first Discworld novel The Colour of Magic was published in 1983 by Colin Smythe in hardback. The publishing rights for paperback were soon taken by Corgi, an imprint of Transworld, the current publisher. Pratchett received further popularity after the BBC's Woman's Hour broadcast The Colour of Magic as a serial in six parts, after it was published by Corgi in 1985 and later Equal Rites. Subsequently, rights for hardback were taken by the publishing house Victor Gollancz, which remained Pratchett's publisher until 1997, and Smythe became Pratchett's agent. Pratchett was the first fantasy author published by Gollancz.[21]

Pratchett gave up working for the CEGB in 1987 after finishing the fourth Discworld novel, Mort, to fully focus on and make his living through writing. His sales increased quickly and many of his books occupied top places of the best-seller list. According to The Times, Pratchett was the top selling and highest earning UK author in 1996.[21] Some of his books have been published by Doubleday, another Transworld imprint. In the US, Pratchett is published by HarperCollins.

According to the Bookseller's Pocket Yearbook from 2005, in 2003 Pratchett's UK sales amounted to 3.4% of the fiction market by hardback sales and 3.8% by value, putting him in 2nd place behind J. K. Rowling (6% and 5.6% respectively), while in the paperback sales list Pratchett came 5th with 1.2% by sales and 1.3% by value (behind James Patterson (1.9% and 1.7%), Alexander McCall Smith, John Grisham and J. R. R. Tolkien).[24] His sales in the UK alone are more than 2.5 million copies a year.[9]

Current life

Terry Pratchett married his wife Lyn in 1968,[21] and they moved to Rowberrow, Somerset in 1970. Their daughter Rhianna Pratchett, who is also a writer, was born there in 1976. In 1993 the family moved to a village north west of Salisbury, Wiltshire, where they currently live. He lists his recreations as "writing, walking, computers, life". [25] He describes himself as a humanist and is a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association.[26]

Pratchett is well known for his penchant for wearing large, black fedora hats,[27] as seen on the inside back covers of most of his books. His style has been described as "more that of urban cowboy than city gent."[28]

Concern for the future of civilisation has prompted him to install five kilowatts of photovoltaic cells (for solar energy) at his house.[29] In addition, his interest in astronomy since childhood has led him to build an observatory in his garden.[17][18]

On 31 December 2008 it was announced that Pratchett was to be knighted (as a Knight Bachelor) in the Queen's 2009 New Year Honours.[11][30] He formally received the accolade at Buckingham Palace on 18 February 2009.[31] Afterwards he said, "You can't ask a fantasy writer not to want a knighthood. You know, for two pins I'd get myself a horse and a sword."[32]

Alzheimer's disease

In August 2007 Pratchett was misdiagnosed as having had a minor stroke in 2004 or 2005, which was believed to have damaged the right side of his brain. While his motor skills had been affected, the observed damage had not impaired his ability to write.[28] On 11 December 2007 Pratchett posted online that he had been newly diagnosed with a very rare form of early-onset Alzheimer's disease, which he said "lay behind this year's phantom 'stroke'." He has a rare form of the disease called posterior cortical atrophy, in which areas at the back of the brain begin to shrink and shrivel.[13] Pratchett appealed to people to "keep things cheerful", and proclaimed that "we are taking it fairly philosophically down here and possibly with a mild optimism."[33] Leading the way, Pratchett stated that he feels he has time for "at least a few more books yet", and added that while he understands the impulse to ask 'is there anything I can do?', in this particular case he will only entertain such offers from "very high-end experts in brain chemistry."[33] Discussing his diagnosis at the Bath Literature Festival, Pratchett revealed that he now found it too difficult to write dedications when signing books.[34]

In March 2008 Pratchett announced he was donating $1,000,000 US dollars (about £494,000 at the time) to the Alzheimer's Research Trust, saying that he had spoken to at least three brain tumour (cancer) survivors yet he had spoken to no survivors of Alzheimer's disease, and that he was shocked "to find out that funding for Alzheimer's research is just 3% of that to find cancer cures."[13][35][36] Of his donation Pratchett said: "I am, along with many others, scrabbling to stay ahead long enough to be there when the Cure comes along.”[37] Pratchett's donation inspired an internet campaign where fans hope to 'Match it for Pratchett', by raising another $1,000,000.[38]

In April 2008 the BBC began working with Pratchett to make a two-part documentary series based on his illness.[39] The first part of Terry Pratchett: Living With Alzheimer's was broadcast on BBC Two on 4 February 2009, drawing 2.6m viewers and a 10.4% audience share.[40] The second, broadcast on 11 February 2009, drew 1.72m viewers and a 6.8% audience share.[41] He also made an appearance on The One Show on 15 May 2008, talking about his condition. He was the subject and interviewee of the 20 May 2008 edition of On the Ropes (Radio 4), discussing Alzheimer's and how it had affected his life.

On 8 June 2008 news reports indicated that Pratchett had an experience, which he described as: "It is just possible that once you have got past all the gods that we have created with big beards and many human traits, just beyond all that, on the other side of physics, there just may be the ordered structure from which everything flows" and "I don’t actually believe in anyone who could have put that in my head".[42][43] He went into further detail on Front Row, in which he was asked if this was a shift in his beliefs: "A shift in me in the sense I heard my father talk to me when I was in the garden one day. But I'm absolutely certain that what I heard was my memories of my father. An engram, or something in my head."..."This is not about God, but somewhere around there is where gods come from."[44]

On 26 November 2008 Pratchett met the Prime Minister Gordon Brown and asked for an increase in dementia research funding.[45]

Since August 2008 Pratchett has been testing out a prototype anti-dementia helmet developed by doctor Gordon Dougal, which is to be worn for six minutes daily. After three months there were small improvements in his condition.[46] Many experts however are sceptical.[47]

In an article published mid 2009, Pratchett stated that he wishes to commit 'assisted suicide' (although he dislikes that term) before his disease progresses to a critical point.[48] Pratchett was selected to give the 2010 BBC Richard Dimbleby Lecture,[49] which was broadcast on 1 February 2010.[50] Pratchett introduced his lecture on the topic of assisted death, but the main text was read by his friend Tony Robinson because of difficulties Pratchett has with reading – a result of his condition.[51][52][53]


Computers and the Internet

Pratchett started to use computers for writing as soon as they were available to him. His first computer was a Sinclair ZX81, the first computer he properly used for writing was an Amstrad CPC 464, later replaced by a PC. Pratchett was one of the first authors to routinely use the Internet to communicate with fans, and has been a contributor to the Usenet newsgroup since 1992.[54] However, he does not consider the Internet a hobby, just another "thing to use".[23] He now has many computers in his house.[23] When he travels, he always takes a portable computer with him to write.[23] His experiments with computer upgrades are reflected in Hex.[55]

Pratchett is also an avid computer game player, and he has collaborated in the creation of a number of game adaptations of his books. He favours games that are "intelligent and have some depth", and has used Half-Life 2 and fan missions from Thief as examples.[56]

Natural history

Pratchett has a fascination with natural history that he has referred to many times. Pratchett owns a greenhouse full of carnivorous plants[57]


Pratchett is a trustee for the Orangutan Foundation UK[58] but is pessimistic about the animal's future.[29] Following Pratchett's lead, fan events such as the Discworld Conventions have adopted the Orangutan Foundation as their nominated charity, which has been acknowledged by the foundation.[59] One of Pratchett's most popular fictional characters, the Librarian of the Unseen University's Library, is an orangutan.

Amateur astronomy

Pratchett has an observatory in his back garden and is a keen astronomer. He has been on the BBC programme The Sky at Night.[60]

Writing career


Terry Pratchett receiving honorary degree at Trinity College Dublin in 2008

Pratchett received a knighthood for "services to literature" in the 2009 UK New Year Honours list.[11][61] He was previously appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire, also for "services to literature", in 1998. Following this, Pratchett commented in the Ansible SF/fan newsletter, "I suspect the 'services to literature' consisted of refraining from trying to write any" (suggesting the title was more a recognition of success, than an acknowledgement of the fantasy genre). But then added, "Still, I cannot help feeling mightily chuffed about it."[62]

Pratchett was the British Book Awards' 'Fantasy and Science Fiction Author of the Year' for 1994.[63]

Pratchett won the British Science Fiction Award in 1989 for his novel, Pyramids,[64] and a Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel in 2008 for Making Money.[65]

Pratchett has been awarded eight honorary Doctorates; University of Warwick in 1999,[66] the University of Portsmouth in 2001,[67] the University of Bath in 2003,[68] the University of Bristol in 2004,[69] Buckinghamshire New University in 2008,[70] Trinity College Dublin in 2008,[71] Bradford University in 2009,[72] and the University of Winchester in 2009.[73]

The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents won the 2001 Carnegie Medal for best children's novel (awarded in 2002).[74] Night Watch won the 2003 Prometheus Award for best libertarian novel.[75]

In 2003 Pratchett joined Charles Dickens as the two authors with five books in the BBC's Big Read 'Top 100' (four of which were Discworld novels). Pratchett was also the author with the most novels in the 'Top 200' (fifteen).[76] The three Discworld novels that centred on the character Tiffany Aching 'trainee witch' have each received the Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book (in 2004, 2005 and 2007).[77]

Pratchett was the recipient of NESFA's Skylark Award in 2009.[78]


Pratchett's Discworld novels have led to dedicated conventions, the first in Manchester in 1996,[79] then worldwide,[80] often with the author as guest of honour.[81] Publication of a new novel may also be accompanied by an international book signing tour;[82] queues have been known to stretch outside the bookshop and the author has continued to sign books well after the intended finishing time.[79] His fans are not restricted by age or gender, and he receives a large amount of fan mail from them.[79] Pratchett enjoys meeting fans and hearing what they think about his books; he says that since he is well paid for his novels, his fans "are everything to me."[83]


Terry Pratchett at Worldcon 2005 in Glasgow, August 2005

Pratchett has said that to write, you must read extensively, both inside and outside your chosen genre[84] and to the point of "overflow".[23] He advises that writing is hard work, and that writers must "make grammar, punctuation and spelling a part of your life."[23] However, Pratchett enjoys writing, regarding its monetary rewards as "an unavoidable consequence", rather than the reason for writing.[85]

The fantasy genre

Although in the past he has written in the sci-fi and horror genres, Pratchett now focuses almost entirely on fantasy, explaining "it is easier to bend the universe around the story".[86] In the acceptance speech for his Carnegie Medal he said: 'Fantasy isn’t just about wizards and silly wands. It's about seeing the world from new directions', pointing to J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels and J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. In the same speech, he also acknowledged benefits of these works for the genre.[87]

He "believes he owes a debt to the science fiction/fantasy genre which he grew up out of" and dislikes the term "magical realism" which is "like a polite way of saying you write fantasy and is more acceptable to certain people ... who, on the whole, do not care that much."[88] He is annoyed that fantasy is "unregarded as a literary form" because it "is the oldest form of fiction"[83] and he is "infuriated" when novels containing science fiction or fantasy ideas are not regarded as part of those genres.[84]

On 31 July 2005, Pratchett criticised media coverage of Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling, commenting that certain members of the media seemed to think that "the continued elevation of J. K. Rowling can only be achieved at the expense of other writers".[89] Pratchett has denied claims that this was a swipe at Rowling, and said that he was not making claims of plagiarism, but was pointing out the "shared heritage" of the fantasy genre.[90] Pratchett has also posted on the Harry Potter newsgroup about a media-covered exchange of views with her.[91]

Style and major themes

Pratchett is known for a distinctive writing style that includes a number of characteristic hallmarks. One example is his use of footnotes,[92] which usually involve a comic departure from the narrative or a commentary on the narrative.[93]

Pratchett has a tendency to avoid using chapters, arguing in a Book Sense interview that "life does not happen in regular chapters, nor do movies, and Homer did not write in chapters", adding "I'm blessed if I know what function they serve in books for adults."[94] However, there have been exceptions; Going Postal and Making Money and several of his books for younger readers are divided into chapters.[95]

Characters, place names and titles in Pratchett's books often contain puns, allusions and culture references.[96][97] Some characters are parodies of well-known characters: for example, Pratchett's character Cohen the Barbarian is a parody of Conan the Barbarian and Genghis Khan, and his character Leonard of Quirm is a parody of Leonardo da Vinci.

Another hallmark of his writing is the use of capitalised dialogue without quotation marks, used to indicate the character of Death communicating telepathically into a character's mind. Other characters or types of characters have similarly distinctive ways of speaking, such as the auditors of reality never having quotation marks, Ankh-Morpork grocers never using punctuation correctly, or golems capitalizing each word in everything they say. Pratchett also made up a new colour, octarine, a 'fluorescent greenish-yellow-purple', which is the eighth colour in the Discworld spectrum - the colour of magic.[98] Indeed, the number eight itself is regarded in the Discworld as being a magical number; for example, the eighth son of an eighth son will be a wizard, and his eighth son will be a "sourcerer" (which is why wizards aren't allowed to have children).[99]

Discworld novels often include a modern innovation and its introduction to the world's medieval setting, such as a public police force (Guards! Guards!), cinema (Moving Pictures), investigative journalism (The Truth), the telegraph (Going Postal), or modern banking (Making Money). The resulting social upheaval serves as the setting for the main story and often inspires the title.[citation needed]


Pratchett makes no secret of outside influences on his work: they are a major source of his humour. He imports numerous characters from classic literature, popular culture and ancient history,[100] always adding an unexpected twist. Pratchett is a crime novel fan, which is reflected in frequent appearances of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch in the Discworld series.[86] Pratchett was an only child, and his characters are often without siblings. Pratchett explains "in fiction, only-children are the interesting ones."[101] An example is the character Susan Sto Helit.

Pratchett's earliest inspirations were The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, and the works of Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke.[5] His literary influences have been P.G. Wodehouse, Tom Sharpe, Jerome K. Jerome, Larry Niven, Roy Lewis,[102] G. K. Chesterton, and Mark Twain.[103]

Publishing history

While Pratchett's UK publishing history has remained quite stable, his relationships with international publishers have been turbulent (especially in America). He changed German publishers after an advertisement for Maggi soup appeared in the middle of the German-language version of Pyramids.[104][105]


The Discworld series

A shelf full of Terry Pratchett's work, mostly Discworld novels.

Pratchett's Discworld series is a humorous and often satirical sequence of stories set in the colourful fantasy world of Discworld. The series contains various 'story arcs' (or 'sub-series'), and a number of free-standing stories. All are set in an abundance of locations in the same detailed and unified world, such as the Unseen University and 'The Drum/Broken Drum/Mended Drum' public house in the twin city Ankh-Morpork, or places in the various continents, regions and countries on the Disc. Characters and locations reappear throughout the series, variously taking major and minor roles.

The Discworld itself is described as a large disc resting on the backs of four giant elephants, all supported by the giant turtle Great A'Tuin as it swims its way through space. The books are essentially in chronological order,[95] and advancements can be seen in the development of the Discworld civilisations, such as the creation of paper money in Ankh-Morpork.[94]

The subject of many of the novels in Pratchett's Discworld series is a parody of a real-world subject such as film making, newspaper publishing, rock and roll music, religion, philosophy, Ancient Greece, Egyptian history, the Gulf War, Australia, university politics, trade unions, and the financial world. Pratchett has also included further parody as a feature within the stories, including such subjects as Ingmar Bergman films, numerous fiction, science fiction and fantasy characters, and various bureaucratic and ruling systems.

Other Discworld books

Pratchett has written or collaborated on a number of Discworld books that are not novels in themselves but serve to accompany the series.

The Discworld Companion, written with Stephen Briggs, is an encyclopedic guide to Discworld. The third (and latest) edition was renamed The New Discworld Companion, and was published in 2003. Briggs also collaborated with Pratchett on a series of fictional Discworld "mapps". The first, The Discworld Mapp (1995), illustrated by Stephen Player, comprises a large, comprehensive map of the Discworld itself with a small booklet that contains short biographies of the Disc's prominent explorers and their discoveries. Three further "mapps", have been released, focusing on particular regions of the Disc: Ankh-Morpork, Lancre, and Death's Domain. Briggs and Pratchett have also released several Discworld diaries and, with Tina Hannan, Nanny Ogg's Cookbook (1999). The design of this cookbook, illustrated by Paul Kidby, was based on the traditional Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, but with humorous recipes.

Collections of Discworld-related art have also been released in book form. The Pratchett Portfolio (1996) and The Art of Discworld (2004) are collections of paintings of major Discworld characters by Paul Kidby, with details added by Pratchett on the character's origins.

In 2005, Pratchett's first book for very young children was Where's My Cow? Illustrated by Melvyn Grant, this is a realisation of the short story Sam Vimes reads to his child in Thud!.

Pratchett resisted mapping the Discworld for quite some time, noting that a firmly-designed map restricts narrative possibility (ie, with a map, fans will complain if he places a building on the wrong street, but without one, he can adjust the geography to fit the story).

Science of Discworld

Pratchett has written three Science of Discworld books in collaboration with Professor of mathematics Ian Stewart and reproductive biologist Jack Cohen, both of the University of Warwick: The Science of Discworld (1999), The Science of Discworld II: The Globe (2002), and The Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch (2005).

All three books have chapters that alternate between fiction and non-fiction: the fictional chapters are set within the Discworld, where its characters observe, and experiment on, a universe with the same physics as ours. The non-fiction chapters (written by Stewart and Cohen) explain the science behind the fictional events.

In 1999, Pratchett appointed both Cohen and Stewart as "Honorary Wizards of the Unseen University" at the same ceremony at which the University of Warwick awarded him an honorary degree.[66]

Folklore of Discworld

Pratchett has collaborated with the folklorist Dr Jacqueline Simpson on The Folklore of Discworld (2008), a study of the relationship between many of the persons, places and events described in the Discworld books and their counterparts in myths, legends, fairy tales and folk customs on Earth.

Other novels

Pratchett's first two adult novels, The Dark Side of the Sun (1976) and Strata (1981), were both science-fiction, the latter taking place partly on a disc-shaped world. Subsequent to these, Pratchett has mostly concentrated on his Discworld series and novels for children, with two exceptions: Good Omens (1990), a collaboration with Neil Gaiman (which was nominated for both Locus and World Fantasy Awards in 1991[106]), a humorous story about the Apocalypse set on Earth and Nation (2008), a book for young adults.

After writing Good Omens, Pratchett began to work with Larry Niven on a book that would become Rainbow Mars; Niven eventually completed the book on his own, but states in the afterword that a number of Pratchett's ideas remained in the finished version.

Children's novels

Pratchett's first children's novel was also his first published novel: The Carpet People in 1971, which Pratchett substantially rewrote and re-released in 1992. The next, Truckers (1988), was the first in The Bromeliad trilogy of novels for young readers, about small gnome-like creatures called "Nomes", and the trilogy continued in Diggers (1990) and Wings (1990). Subsequently, Pratchett wrote the "Johnny Maxwell" trilogy, about the adventures of a boy called Johnny Maxwell and his friends, comprising Only You Can Save Mankind (1992), Johnny and the Dead (1993) and Johnny and the Bomb (1996). Nation (2008) marks his return to the non-Discworld children's novel.

Collaborations and contributions

  • The Unadulterated Cat is a humorous book of cat anecdotes written by Pratchett and illustrated by Gray Jolliffe.
  • After the King: Stories In Honour of J.R.R. Tolkien edited by Martin H. Greenberg (1992) contains "Troll Bridge", a short story featuring Cohen the Barbarian. This story was also published in the compilations Knights of Madness (1998, edited by Peter Haining) and The Mammoth Book of Comic Fantasy (2001, edited by Mike Ashley).
  • The Wizards of Odd, a short-story compilation edited by Peter Haining (1996), includes a Discworld short story called "Theatre of Cruelty".
  • The Flying Sorcerers, another short-story compilation edited by Peter Haining (1997), starts off with a Pratchett story called "Turntables of the Night", featuring Death (albeit not set on Discworld, but in our "reality").
  • Legends, edited by Robert Silverberg (1998), contains a Discworld short story called "The Sea and Little Fishes".
  • Digital Dreams, edited by David V Barrett (1990), contains the science fiction short story "# ifdefDEBUG + “world/enough” + “time”.
  • Meditations on Middle-Earth (2002)
  • The Leaky Establishment, written by David Langford (1984), has a foreword by Pratchett in later reissues (from 2001).
  • Once More* With Footnotes, edited by Priscilla Olson and Sheila M. Perry (2004), is "an assortment of short stories, articles, introductions, and ephemera" by Pratchett which "have appeared in books, magazines, newspapers, anthologies, and program books, many of which are now hard to find."[107]
  • Now We Are Sick, written by Neil Gaiman and Stephen Jones (1994), includes the poem called "The Secret Book of the Dead" by Pratchett.
  • The Writers' and Artists' Yearbook 2007 includes an article by Pratchett about the process of writing fantasy.
  • Good Omens, written with Neil Gaiman (1990)
  • The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Fantasy, edited by David Pringle (1998), has a foreword by Pratchett.[108]



Pratchett has had a number of radio adaptations on BBC Radio 4: The Colour of Magic, Equal Rites (on Woman's Hour), Only You Can Save Mankind, Guards! Guards!, Wyrd Sisters, Mort, and Small Gods have all been dramatised as serials, as was Night Watch in early 2008, and The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents as a 90-minute play.[109]

Additionally, Guards! Guards! was also adapted as a one-hour audio drama by the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company and performed live at Dragon*Con in 2001. It can be heard as a free podcast in three parts. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3


Johnny and the Dead and 14 Discworld novels have been adapted as plays by Stephen Briggs and published in book form.[110] In addition, Lords & Ladies has been adapted for the stage by Irana Brown, and Pyramids was adapted for the stage by Suzi Holyoake in 1999 and had a week-long theatre run in the UK.[111] In 2002, an adaptation of Truckers was produced as a co-production between Harrogate Theatre, the Belgrade Theatre Coventry and Theatre Royal, Bury St. Edmunds. It was adapted by Bob Eaton, and directed by Rob Swain. The play toured to many venues in the UK between 15 March and 29 June 2002.[112]

In 2004, a musical adaptation of Only You Can Save Mankind was premiered at the Edinburgh Festival, with music by Leighton James House and book and lyrics by Shaun McKenna.[113]

In January 2009 the National Theatre in London announced that their annual Winter family production in 2009 will be a theatrical adaptation of Pratchett's novel Nation. The novel will be adapted by playwright Mark Ravenhill and directed by Melly Still, director of the National Theatre's highly successful 2005 Winter family show Coram Boy.[114][115]


Truckers was adapted as a stop motion animation series for Thames Television by Cosgrove Hall Films in 1992. Johnny and the Dead was made into a TV serial for Children's ITV on ITV, in 1995. Wyrd Sisters and Soul Music were adapted as animated cartoon series by Cosgrove Hall for Channel 4 in 1996; illustrated screenplays of these were published in 1998 and 1997 respectively. In January 2006, BBC One aired a three-part adaptation of Johnny and the Bomb.

A two-part, feature-length version of Hogfather starring David Jason and the voice of Ian Richardson was first aired on Sky One in the United Kingdom in December 2006, and on ION Television in the USA in 2007. Pratchett was opposed to live action films about Discworld before because of his negative experience with Hollywood film makers.[116] He changed his opinion when he saw that the director Vadim Jean and producer Rod Brown were very enthusiastic and cooperative.[117] A two-part, feature-length adaptation of The Colour of Magic and its sequel The Light Fantastic aired during Easter 2008 on Sky One.[118] A third adaptation, Going Postal, is in post-production and will air at Easter 2010.

Feature films

Pratchett has held back from Discworld feature films;[119] though the rights to a number of his books have been sold, no films have yet been made. The Wee Free Men is set to be directed by Sam Raimi but has not started filming.[120] Director Terry Gilliam has announced in an interview with Empire magazine that he plans to adapt Good Omens[121] but as of 2007 this still needed funding.[122] In 2001, DreamWorks also commissioned an adaptation of Truckers by Andrew Adamson and Joe Stillman[123] but Pratchett believes that it will not be made until after "Shrek 17".[124] However, in 2008 Danny Boyle revealed that he hoped to direct a Truckers adaptation by Frank Cottrell Boyce.[125]

Comic books and graphic novels

Four graphic novels of Pratchett's work have been released. The first two, originally published in the US, were adaptations of The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic and illustrated by Steven Ross (with Joe Bennett on the latter). The second two, published in the UK, were adaptations of Mort (subtitled A Discworld Big Comic) and Guards! Guards!, both illustrated by Graham Higgins and adapted by Stephen Briggs. The graphic novels of The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic were republished by Doubleday on the 2 June 2008.

Role-playing games

GURPS Discworld (Steve Jackson Games, 1998) and GURPS Discworld Also (Steve Jackson Games, 2001) are role-playing source books which were written by Terry Pratchett and Phil Masters, which also offer insights into the workings of the Discworld. The first of these two books was re-released in September 2002 under the name of The Discworld Roleplaying Game, with art by Paul Kidby.

PC and console games

The Discworld universe has also been used as a basis for a number of Discworld video games on a range of formats, such as the Sega Saturn, the Sony Playstation, the Philips CD-i and the 3DO, as well as DOS and Windows-based PCs. The following are the more notable games:

Internet games

The world of Discworld is also featured in a fan created online MUD, multi-user dungeon, and can be found at This game allows players to play humans in various guilds within the universe that Terry Pratchett has created.

Works about Pratchett

A collection of essays about his writings is compiled in the book Terry Pratchett: Guilty of Literature, edited by Andrew M. Butler, Edward James and Farah Mendlesohn, published by Science Fiction Foundation in 2000 (ISBN 0903007010). A second, expanded edition was published by Old Earth Books in 2004 (ISBN 188296831X). Andrew M. Butler also wrote the Pocket Essentials Guide to Terry Pratchett published in 2001 (ISBN 1903047390). Writers Uncovered: Terry Pratchett is a biography for young readers by Vic Parker, published by Heinemann Library in 2006 (ISBN 0431906335).


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External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Everything makes sense a bit at a time. But when you try to think of it all at once, it comes out wrong

Terence David John "Terry" Pratchett (born April 28, 1948) is an English fantasy author, best known for his Discworld series.

See also:

Discworld for quotations from the Discworld novels.
Good Omens (co-written with Neil Gaiman)



I'd rather be a climbing ape than a falling angel.
Imagination, not intelligence, made us human.
  • My programming language was solder.
    • Pratchett on his early computers, from a talk "When I Were A Lad, We Used To Dream of 64K" at the 63rd World Science Fiction Convention in Glasgow, Scotland, (August 2005)
  • No, I happen to be one of those people whose memory shuts down under pressure. The answers would come to me in the middle of the night in my sleep! Besides, I am a millionaire.
  • As they say in Discworld, we are trying to unravel the Mighty Infinite using a language which was designed to tell one another where the fresh fruit was.
  • Life doesn't happen in chapters— at least, not regular ones. Nor do movies. Homer didn't write in chapters. I can see what their purpose is in children's books ("I'll read to the end of the chapter, and then you must go to sleep") but I'm blessed if I know what function they serve in books for adults.
  • As for The Mapp... I suspect it'll never get a US publication. It seemed to frighten US publishers. They don't seem to understand it.
    That seems to point up a significant difference between Europeans and Americans:
    A European says: I can't understand this, what's wrong with me? An American says: I can't understand this, what's wrong with him?
    I make no suggestion that one side or other is right, but observation over many years leads me to believe it is true.
The pen is mightier than the sword if the sword is very short, and the pen is very sharp. ~ The Light Fantastic
  • Imagination, not intelligence, made us human.
    • Foreword to The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1998) by David Pringle, ISBN 0-87951-937-1, and The Definitive Illustrated Guide to Fantasy (2003) by David Pringle, ISBN 1-84442-930-X
  • Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.
    • Foreword to The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1998) by David Pringle, and The Definitive Illustrated Guide to Fantasy (2003) by David Pringle


I don't like the place at all. It's all wrong. An imposition on the Landscape...
  • 'Educational' refers to the process, not the object. Although, come to think of it, some of my teachers could easily have been replaced by a cheeseburger.
    • In response to a comment that if television is educational because watching it can teach you a lot about society, then a cheeseburger is also educational, (15 October 1996)
  • I don't like the place at all. It's all wrong. An imposition on the Landscape. I reckon that Stonehenge was build by the contemporary equivalent of Microsoft, whereas Avebury was definitely an Apple circle.
  • Over the centuries, mankind has tried many ways of combating the forces of evil... prayer, fasting, good works and so on. Up until Doom, no one seemed to have thought about the double-barrel shotgun. Eat leaden death, demon...
  • There should be a notice ahead of the movie that says 'This movie is PG. Can you read? You are a Parent. Do you understand what Guidance is? Or are you just another stupid toddler who thinks they're an adult simply because they've grown older and, unfortunately, have developed fully-functioning sexual organs? Would you like some committee somewhere to decide *everything* for you? Get a damn grip, will you? And shut the wretched kid up !'
  • ...while a book has got to be worthwhile from the point of view of the reader it's got to be worthwhile from the point of view of the writer as well.
  • Oh dear, I'm feeling political today. It's just that it's dawned on me that 'zero tolerance' only seems to mean putting extra police in poor, run-down areas, and not in the Stock Exchange.
  • Go on, prove me wrong. Destroy the fabric of the universe. See if I care.
  • I once absent-mindedly ordered Three Mile Island dressing in a restaurant and, with great presence of mind, they brought Thousand Island Dressing and a bottle of chili sauce
  • Oh, come on. Revelation was a mushroom dream that belonged in the Apocrypha. The New Testament is basically about what happened when God got religion
  • What your soldier wants-- really, really wants -- is no-one shooting back at him.
  • You can’t make people happy by law. If you said to a bunch of average people two hundred years ago “Would you be happy in a world where medical care is widely available, houses are clean, the world’s music and sights and foods can be brought into your home at small cost, travelling even 100 miles is easy, childbirth is generally not fatal to mother or child, you don’t have to die of dental abcesses and you don’t have to do what the squire tells you” they’d think you were talking about the New Jerusalem and say ‘yes’.
  • This isn't life in the fast lane, it's life in the oncoming traffic.
  • I mean, I wouldn't pay more than a couple of quid to see me, and I'm me.
  • I think that sick people in Ankh-Morpork generally go to a vet. It's generally a better bet. There's more pressure on a vet to get it right. People say "it was god's will" when granny dies, but they get angry when they lose a cow.
  • I have to admit that I drive past Bridgwater quite regularly. And fast.
  • What you have here is an example of that well known phenomenon, A Bookshop Assistance Who Knows Buggerall But Won't Admit It (probably some kind of arts graduate).
  • I staggered into a Manchester bar late one night on a tour and the waitress said "You look as if you need a Screaming Orgasm". At the time this was the last thing on my mind...
  • In Reading [England] there is this thing called the IDR, short for "Inner Distribution Road", which is bureaucratese for "Big thing that cost a lot of money and relieves traffic problems, provided all your traffic wants to orbit the town centre permanently". It's a 2-3 lane dual carriageway that goes round the town centre. It has lots of roundabouts, an overhead section, a couple of spare motorway-like exits (that's British motorways -- y'know, the roundabout with the main road going under it), and a thing called the Watlington Street Gyratory, where you have to get in lane for your intended destination about three years and two corners before you get there with no signposting. I used to cycle along it every day to get to school, before I fell off at 35 mph. [Kids! Don't try this at home!] I know it well. I believe it is impossible to leave Reading heading west.
  • I didn't go to university. Didn't even finish A-levels. But I have sympathy for those who did.
  • "Out of Print" is bookseller speak for "We can't be hedgehogged".
  • I was thinking of 'duh?' in the sense of 'a sentence containing several words more than three letters long, and possibly requiring general knowledge or a sense of history that extends past last Tuesday, has been used in my presence.'
  • Bognor has always meant to me the quintessential English seaside experience (before all this global warming stuff): driving in the rain to get there, walking around in the rain looking for something to do when you're there, and driving home in the rain again...
  • I must confess the the activities of the UK governments for the past couple of years have been watched with frank admiration and amazement by Lord Vetinari. Outright theft as a policy had never occurred to him.
  • I'm referred to, I see, as 'the biggest banker in modern publishing'. Now there's a line that needed the celebrated Guardian proof-reading.
  • I save about twenty drafts -- that's ten meg of disc space -- and the last one contains all the final alterations. Once it has been printed out and received by the publishers, there's a cry here of 'Tough shit, literary researchers of the future, try getting a proper job!' and the rest are wiped.
  • I always thought Detritus would be good at: "I bet you're wondrin' how many time I fired dis crossbow--"
  • Mind you, the Elizabethans had so many words for the female genitals that it is quite hard to speak a sentence of modern English without inadvertently mentioning at least three of them.
  • Currently there's five machines permanently networked here. They all contain the serious core stuff. A couple of the machines are pensioned off 486s, with little other value now. Plus there's two Jaz drives in the building and the portable also carries a fair amount of stuff. Plus every Friday a man comes around and carves all the new stuff onto stone slabs and buries them in the garden... I think I'm okay.
  • If I heeded all the advice I've had over the years, I've have written 18 books about Rincewind.
  • Have a bit more patience with newbies. Of course some of them act dumb -- they're often students, for heaven's sake.
  • Death isn't on line. If he was, there would be a sudden drop in the death rate. Although it'd be interesting to see if he'd post things like: DON'T YOU THINK I SOUND LIKE JAMES EARL JONES?
  • The net software here did its meltdown trick again at the weekend (it happens about once every six months -- if only everything was as reliable as WordPerfect 4.2, which only chews up a novel about once every two or three years...)
  • I'd like to stand up for the rights of people who put everything on their burger -- chutney, mustard, pickle, mustard pickle, tomato sauce... It is common knowledge in my family that I can't tell the difference between a veggie burger and a meat one, because the ratio of burger to pickles is so high.
  • Mort isn't fashionable UK movie material -- there's no parts in it for Hugh or Emma, it's not set it Sheffield, and no one shoves drugs up their bum...
  • DW is based on a slew of old myths, which reach their most 'refined' form in Hindu mythology, which in turn of course derived from the original Star Trek episode 'Planet of Wobbly Rocks where the Security Guard Got Shot'.
  • Eight years involved with the nuclear industry have taught me that when nothing can possible go wrong and every avenue has been covered, then is the time to buy a house on the next continent.

The Carpet People (1971; 1992)

  • This book had two authors, and they were both the same person.
    • Author's note, revised edition (1992).
  • They called themselves the Munrungs. It meant The People, or The True Human Beings.
    It's what most people call themselves, to begin with.
    And then one day the tribe meets some other People or, if it's not been a good day, The Enemy. If only they'd think up a name like Some More True Human Beings, it'd save a lot of trouble later on.
  • On the fifth day the Governor of the town called all the tribal chieftains to an audience in the market square, to hear their grievances. He didn't always do anything about them, but at least they got heard, and he nodded a lot, and everyone felt better about it at least until they got home. This is politics.
  • Keep 'em busy. That was one of the three rules of being chief that old Grimm had passed on to him. Act confidently, never say 'I don't know,' and when all else fails, keep 'em busy.
  • I wish that the people who sing about the deeds of heroes would think about the people who have to clear up after them.
  • Anyway, just because you're sworn enemies doesn't mean you can't be friends, does it?
When they're standing right in front of you, kings are a kind of speech impediment.
  • When they're standing right in front of you, kings are a kind of speech impediment.
  • 'I can't have your subjects throwing my family over the balcony, that would never do.'
    'Good,' said Snibril.
    'I'll do it myself.'
  • 'Whose side are they on?' said Brocando.
    'Sides? Their own, I suppose, just like everyone else.'
  • 'Stop that!' he shouted. 'You're soldiers! You're not supposed to fight!'
  • Most armies are in fact run by their sergeants — the officers are there just to give things a bit of tone and prevent warfare becoming a mere lower-class brawl.
  • The Deftmenes are mad and the Dumii are sane, thought Snibril, and that's just the same as being mad except that it's quieter. If only you could mix them together, you'd end up with normal people.
  • Normally its narrow streets were crowded with stalls, and people from all over the Carpet. They'd all be trying to cheat one another in that open-and-above-board way known as 'doing business'.
  • The sign outside the shop said Apothecary, which meant that the shop was owned by a sort of early chemist, who would give you herbs and things until you got better or at least stopped getting any worse.
  • 'Well ... welcome. My house is your house', his brow suddenly furrowed and he looked worried, 'although only in a metaphorical sense, you understand, because I would not, much as I always admired your straightforward approach, and indeed your forthright stance, actually give you my house, it being the only house I have, and therefore the term is being extended in an, as it were, gratuitous fashion --'
  • 'What would Deftmenes be if we went around obeying orders all the time?'
    'They might be ruling the Carpet,' said Pismire.
    'Ha!' said Brocando, 'but the trouble about obeying orders is, it becomes a habit. And then everything depends on who's giving the orders.'
  • 'Waiting is the worst part,' said Pismire.
    'No it isn't,' said Owlglass, who wasn't even being trusted to hold a sword. 'I expect that having long sharp swords stuck in you is the worst part.'
  • 'But we should kill him!'
    'No. You've been listen to Brocando too often,' said Bane.
    Brocando bristled. 'You know what he is! Why not kill--' he began, but he was interrupted.
    'Because it doesn't matter what he is. It matters what we are.'

The Unadulterated Cat (1989)

  • Our garden was debated territory between five local cats, and we'd heard that the best way to keep other cats out of the garden was to have one yourself. A moment's rational thought here will spot the slight flaw in this reasoning.
  • Boot-faced cats aren't born but made, often because they've tried to outstare or occasionally rape a speeding car and have been repaired by a vet who just pulled all the bits together and stuck the stitches in where there was room.
  • Cats don't hunt seals. They would if they knew what they were and where to find them. But they don't, so that's all right.
  • It's an interesting fact that fewer than 17 % of Real cats end their lives with the same name they started with. Much family effort goes into selecting one at the start ("She looks like a Winnifred to me"), and the as the years roll by it suddenly finds itself being called Meepo or Ratbag.
  • Next comes the realist phase ("After all, from a purely geometrical point of view a cat is only a tube with a door at the top.").
    • About giving a cat a pill
  • Everyone's heard of Erwin Schrodinger's famous thought experiment. You put a cat in a box with a bottle of poison, which many people would suggest is about as far as you need to go.
  • Consider the situation. There you are, forehead like a set of balconies, worrying about the long-term effects of all this new 'fire' stuff on the environment, you're being chased and eaten by most of the planet's large animals, and suddenly tiny versions of one of the worst of them wanders into the cave and starts to purr.

Truckers (1990)

  • Perhaps, if you knew you were going to die, your senses crammed in as much detail as they could while they still had the chance...
    • Ch. 1
  • 'You're not going to die, are you sir?' he said.
    'Of course I am. Everyone is. That's what being alive is all about.'
    • Ch. 7
  • The way to deal with an impossible task was to chop it down into a number of merely very difficult tasks, and break each one of them into a group of horribly hard tasks, and each of them into tricky jobs, and each of them...
    • Ch. 7
  • The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.

Only You Can Save Mankind (1992)

  • Everything makes sense a bit at a time. But when you try to think of it all at once, it comes out wrong.

Johnny and the Dead (1993)

  • Suicide was against the law. Johnny had wondered why. It meant that if you missed, or the gas ran out, or the rope broke, you could get locked up in prison to show you that life was really very jolly and thoroughly worth living.

Discworld Series

  • Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.
  • Joy is to fun what the deep sea is to a puddle. It’s a feeling inside that can hardly be contained
  • It was quite impossible to describe. Here is what it looked like. It looked like a piano sounds shortly after being dropped down a well. It tasted yellow, and it felt Paisley. It smelled like the total eclipse of the moon.
  • Once we were blobs in the sea, and then fishes, and then lizards and rats, and then monkeys, and hundreds of things in between. This hand was once a fin, this hand once had claws! In my human mouth I have the pointy teeth of a wolf and the chisel teeth of a rabbit and the grinding teeth of a cow! Our blood is as salty as the sea we used to live in! When we're frightened, the hair on our skin stands up, just like it did when we had fur. We ARE history!Everything we've ever been on the way to becoming us, we still are. Would you like the rest of the story? I'm made up of the memories of my parents and my grandparents, all my ancestors. They're in the way I look, in the color of my hair. And I'm made up of everyone I've ever met who's changed the way I think.
  • "Silverfish looked down. "Oh. Are you a dwarf?" Cuddy gave him a blank stare. "Are you a giant?" He said. "Me? Of course not!" "Ah. Then I must be a dwarf, yes."
  • "Right!"

"Right!" "You can get there!" "I can get there!" "You're a natural at counting to two!" "I'm a nat'ral at coutnting to two!" "If you can count to two, you can count to anything!" "If I can count to two, I can count to anything!" "And then the world is your mollusc!" "My mollusc! What's a mollusc?"

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Simple English

Terry Pratchett

Sir Terence David John Pratchett (born April 28, 1948, in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England) OBE is an English author. He is known for his fantasy works, including the famous Discworld series. His first novel, The Carpet People, was published in 1971. He was the UK's best-selling author of the 1990s.

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