Pratchett, Terry 1948-

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PRATCHETT, Terry 1948-

PERSONAL: Born April 28, 1948, in Beaconsfield, England; son of David (an engineer) and Eileen (a secretary; maiden name, Kearns) Pratchett; married; wife's name Lyn; children: Rhianna. Hobbies and other interests: Growing carnivorous plants.

ADDRESSES: Agent—Colin Smythe, Ltd., P.O. Box 6, Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire SL9 8XA, England.

CAREER: Novelist. Journalist in Buckinghamshire, Bristol, and Bath, England, 1965-80; press officer, Central Electricity Board, Western Region, 1980-87.

AWARDS, HONORS: British Science-Fiction Award, 1989, for "Discworld" series, and 1990, for Good Omens; Writers Guild of Great Britain best children's book award, 1993, for Johnny and the Dead; British Book Award citation, 1993, as Fantasy and Science Fiction Author of the Year; awarded Order of the British Empire, 1998; Carnegie Medal, and Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, both 2002, both for The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents; honorary doctor of letters, University of Warwick, 1999.



The Colour of Magic (also see below), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1983, published as The Color of Magic, 2000.

The Light Fantastic, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1986.

Equal Rites, Gollancz (London, England), 1986, New American Library (New York, NY), 1987.

Mort, New American Library (New York, NY), 1987.

Sourcery, Gollancz (London, England), 1988, New American Library (New York, NY), 1989.

Wyrd Sisters, Gollancz (London, England), 1988, Roc (New York, NY), 1990.

Pyramids, Penguin (New York, NY), 1989.

Eric, Gollancz (London, England), 1989.

Guards! Guards!, Gollancz (London, England), 1989, Roc (New York, NY), 1991.

Moving Pictures, Gollancz (London, England), 1990, Roc (New York, NY), 1992.

Reaper Man, Gollancz (London, England), 1991, Roc (New York, NY), 1992.

Witches Abroad, Gollancz (London, England), 1991, New American Library (New York, NY), 1993.

Small Gods, Gollancz (London, England), 1992, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1994.

(With Stephen Briggs) The Streets of Ankh Morpork, Corgi (London, England), 1993, Bantam (New York, NY), 1994.

Mort: A Discworld Big Comic (graphic novel), illustrated by Graham Higgins, Gollancz (London, England), 1994.

(With Stephen Briggs) The Discworld Companion, Gollancz (London, England), 1994.

Lords and Ladies, Gollancz (London, England), 1993, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1995.

(With Stephen Briggs) The Discworld Mapp, Corgi (London, England), 1995.

Men at Arms, Gollancz (London, England), 1993, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.

Terry Pratchett's Discworld Quizbook: The Unseen University Challenge, Vista, 1996.

Interesting Times, HarperPrism (New York, NY), 1994.

Soul Music, HarperPrism (New York, NY), 1995.

Feet of Clay, HarperPrism (New York, NY), 1996.

Maskerade, HarperPrism (New York, NY), 1997.

Hogfather, HarperPrism (New York, NY), 1998.

Jingo, HarperPrism (New York, NY), 1998.

Carpe Jugulum, HarperPrism (New York, NY), 1999.

The Last Continent, HarperPrism (New York, NY), 1999.

(With Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen) The First Disc-world Novels (contains The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic), Dufour Editions (Chester Springs, PA), 1999.

The Fifth Elephant, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.

The Truth, Corgi (London, England), 2001.

The Last Hero: A Discworld Fable, illustrated by Paul Kidby, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.

Night Watch, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003.

The Science of Discworld II: The Globe, Ebury (London, England), 2002.

Monstrous Regiment, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003.

The Wee Free Men, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003.

A Hat Full of Sky, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.


Truckers (also see below), Doubleday (New York, NY), 1989.

Diggers (also see below), Delacorte (New York, NY), 1990.

Wings (also see below), Doubleday (New York, NY), 1990.

The Bromeliad Trilogy (contains Truckers, Diggers, and Wings), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003.


The Carpet People (juvenile fantasy), Smythe, 1971, revised edition, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1992.

The Dark Side of the Sun (science fiction), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1976.

Strata (science fiction), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1981.

The Unadulterated Cat, illustrated by Gray Jolliffe, Gollancz (London, England), 1989.

(With Neil Gaiman) Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Predictions of Agnes Nutter, Witch, Workman (New York, NY), 1990.

Only You Can Save Mankind (for young adults), Doubleday (New York, NY), 1992.

Johnny and the Dead (juvenile), Doubleday (New York, NY), 1993.

Johnny and the Bomb, Acacia, 1997.

Thief of Time, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2001.

The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.

Nancy Ogg's Cookbook, Corgi (New York, NY), 2003.

ADAPTATIONS: Truckers was adapted into a television series by Cosgrove Hall, Thames Video, 1992; Music from the Discworld, based on Pratchett's series, was composed and performed by Dave Greenslade, Virgin Records, 1994; the video games "Discworld" and "Discworld II: Missing Presumed . . ." were developed by Sony/Psygnosis, 1994, 1996; Johnny and the Dead was adapted as a television series, London Weekend Television, 1995, and for the stage by Stephen Briggs, Oxford University Press, 1996; Wyrd Sisters was adapted for the stage by Briggs, Corgi (London, England), 1996; Mort was adapted for the stage by Briggs, Corgi (London, England), 1996; Guards! Guards! was adapted for the stage by Briggs, Corgi (London, England), 1997; Men at Arms was adapted for the stage by Briggs, Corgi (London, England), 1997; Wyrd Sisters was adapted as a television series, Cosgrove Hall Films, 1997; Soul Music was adapted as a television series, Cosgrove Hall Films, 1997.

SIDELIGHTS: British author Terry Pratchett is best known for his popular "Discworld" series, a humorous fantasy set in a world that rests upon a giant turtle's back. With more than thirty "Discworld" books to his credit, Pratchett is one of Great Britain's most recognizable and popular authors. "Pratchett's texts are woven from the stuff of fantasy," wrote Nicolas Tredell in Contemporary Novelists. "His fiction is both a hilarious parody of the fantasy genre and a genuine contribution to it, in that it creates a rich, imaginative 'multiverse' that absorbs and intrigues the reader. It shares with the strongest fantasy a concern with fundamental issues such as death, and it incorporates aspects of contemporary culture such as fast food and rock music." The "Discworld" novels do not build upon one another, but instead can be read in any order—a fact that has contributed to their popularity. Tredell noted: "Taken together these novels create an imaginative zone that is rich and strange, offering the reader both the pleasures of discovery, as new aspects are revealed, and of recognition, as familiar figures recur." David Langford concluded in the St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers: "Pratchett's achievement in the Discworld series is slightly frightening: so many books since 1983, and so consistently funny with scarcely a wobble." "Discworld"—as well as most of Pratchett's other works—offers parodies of the creations of other famous science-fiction and fantasy writers, such as J. R. R. Tolkien and Larry Niven, while it spoofs such modern trends as New Age philosophy and universal concerns like death, religion, and politics. "Nevertheless, buried amongst the slapstick comedy and witty word-play are serious considerations of humanity and its foibles. In a genre assailed by shoddiness, mediocrity, and . . . the endless series," asserted Locus reviewer Faren Miller, "Pratchett is never shoddy, and under the laughter there's a far from mediocre mind at work." Indeed, to quote Tredell, "The Discworld is full of stories that bear on our social and metaphysical concerns."

Pratchett wrote his first full-length work of fiction at the age of seventeen and published it as The Carpet People, in 1971. Aimed at young readers, the book describes a whole world set in a carpet, populated by creatures called deftmenes, mouls, and wights. The novel's protagonist, Snibril the Munrung, travels with his brother, Glurk, through the many Carpet regions—which are set off by different colors—to do battle against the evil concept of Fray. A Times Literary Supplement reviewer recommended The Carpet People and further noted that "the Tolkienian echoes may draw in some older readers."

The Dark Side of the Sun and Strata, both science-fiction novels by Pratchett, appear to spoof aspects of Larry Niven's "Ringworld," a huge, flat world that completely circles a star, according to Don D'Ammassa in Twentieth-Century Science Fiction Writers. The Dark Side of the Sun, in D'Ammassa's words, features "manipulation of the laws of chance"—a subject also prominent in Niven's Ring-world; Strata discusses the construction of artificial planets and resembles Ringworld "in many superficial ways." Edward Dickey, reviewing The Dark Side of the Sun in Best Sellers, observed that "it should have strong appeal for science fiction fans" and called the novel "entertaining fiction lightened by occasional touches of whimsy." Allan Jenoff, critiquing Strata in Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Review, found it "amusing and readable."

Pratchett used the concept of a flat world again when he embarked upon his first "Discworld" novel, The Colour of Magic. This time, however, he took an approach more suitable to the fantasy genre than to science fiction. As Philippa Toomey reported in the London Times: "A great turtle swims through space. On its back are four giant elephants, on whose shoulders the disc of the world rests. We know this only because the extremely inquisitive inhabitants of the small kingdom of Krull lowered some early astrozoologists over the edge to have a quick look." Pratchett has pointed out that many mythologies across the world espouse the notion that the world is a flat place being carried on the back of a great turtle.

The protagonist of the first "Discworld" novel, The Colour of Magic, is a hapless wizard named Rincewind; he teams up with a tourist from a remote portion of the disc for a series of precarious adventures. The resulting tale, according to W. D. Stevens in Science Fiction and Fantasy Review, is "one of the funniest, and cleverest, [sword and sorcery] satires to be written." Rincewind returns in Pratchett's second "Discworld" novel, The Light Fantastic. This time he must try to prevent Discworld from colliding with a red star that has recently appeared in its sky. The next book in the series, Equal Rites, puts the emphasis on the character of Granny Weatherwax, whom Tom Hutchinson in the London Times hailed as "one of my favorite fantasy heroines." Granny Weatherwax returns in Wyrd Sisters, this time accompanied by two fellow witches, one of whom, Magrat Garlick, likes to indulge in "New Age fripperies," according to Miller in Locus. In Wyrd Sisters Granny and her companions form a trio of witches reminiscent of those in William Shakespeare's play Macbeth and attempt to foil the plot of the evil Lord Felmet and his wife, who have usurped the rightful king. Wyrd Sisters led Miller to express his amazement at Pratchett for creating "an open-ended series that just keeps getting better."

Subsequent "Discworld" novels have introduced other compelling characters, including Death and his apprentice, Mort, as well as a bungling set of night watchmen who save the capital city of Ankh-Morpork from an invading dragon. The series does not shrink from addressing controversial topics, exploring issues such as immortality, dogmatic religion, oppressive politics, and the influential power of fairy tales. Langford observed: "Once established, the astrophysics of Discworld receded into the background, fleetingly mentioned in later books as 'series glue'. Discworld is a place where any story can be told, and its geography is fluid. But (and this is a major strength) it is not just another of those realms where anything can happen. Events are governed by a steely commonsense which may only be overruled by the important need to insert another joke or demented footnote. Nevertheless," the critic continued, "the surface hilarity glitters all the more for having such solid, uncompromising bones: in the best of the series the silly footnotes and mirthful throwaway lines are ornaments on a structure of steel."

The "Discworld" novel The Fifth Elephant revolves around some valuable natural deposits of minerals and high-quality fat, left behind when a cosmic elephant crashed and burned in the Uberwald region at the beginning of time. Policeman Sam Vimes, traveling to Uberwald to find the valuable Scone of Stone, becomes involved in what a reviewer for Publishers Weekly called "an exuberant tale of mystery and invention" in which Pratchett "skewers everything" including political, religious, and economic systems, to achieve a book that is "a heavyweight of lightness." Booklist reviewer Roland Green praised the author's humor and also his effective writing style, commenting: "He never lets a proper tone flag; thus, in the midst of all the satire, Vimes' death struggle with the werewolves is as grim as any thriller's climax, and the growing love between Captain Carrot and Corporal Angua the werewolf is handled straight. Pratchett is now inviting comparison with Kurt Vonnegut, but if he ends up with a reputation equivalent only to that of P. G. Wodehouse, the world will be the better for his having written."

In Night Watch Vimes has been made a duke and is living the good life with his wife, who is expecting their child. Still, he can't forget his days on duty, and finds himself going on patrol even when he is not required to do so. A surge of occult power sends him back to the past, but with some differences: He is now in charge of the future and required to remember everything correctly. "Discworld remains a place of punning, entertaining footnotes, and farce, in which Ankh-Morpork is still a great city," commented Regina Schroeder in Booklist.

Monstrous Regiment gave eager readers still more tales of Discworld. In this novel Pratchett introduces readers to the region of Borogravia, whose religion forbids chocolate, cats, dwarfs, the color blue, babies, and cheese, among other things. The story concerns Polly Perks, a determined barmaid who disguises herself as a man to more easily search for her brother in the infantry. To Polly's surprise, most of her fellow conscripts are similarly disguised. New York Times reviewer Kerry Fried noted that while the story is full of puns and humor, Pratchett's real subject is "the pity of war." Noting that the plot "can move from farce to sadness in seconds," Fried concluded that while Monstrous Regiment "is most often spirited and shambolic . . . it has some serious heft."

In 1989 Pratchett published the first of his "Bromeliad" fantasy trilogy for children. Truckers introduces young readers to the nomes, four-inch-high people from another planet who have crashed on Earth and who have made a new world for themselves under the floorboards of a department store. Other nomes, however, have also found their way to Earth and live on the outside; the fun begins when one of these, Masklin, meets with the nomes of the store. When they learn that the store is going out of business and will be torn down, together the nomes must cooperate to find a new home and to escape their old one in a human-sized truck. "A wild and hilarious chase sequence follows, with the baffled police doubting their sanity," observed a Horn Book reviewer. Elizabeth Ward in the Washington Post Book World summed up Truckers as "a delightful surprise" and a "benevolent little satire."

Diggers, the second "Bromeliad" installment, takes Masklin and his fellow nomes to their new home in an abandoned quarry. However, problems ensue when humans attempt to reactivate the quarry. "In the book's funniest scene," according to Patrick Jones in Voice of Youth Advocates, "a group of nomes 'attacks' one of the humans, ties him to his desk chair, and stuffs a note in his hand proclaiming: 'leave us alone.'" "Satire and allegory abound," a Horn Book reviewer concluded of Diggers, but the critic also noted that the nomes' "trials and emotions are both moving and amusing." In Wings Masklin and his friends attempt to return to their home planet by placing the Thing—a "magic" box which in Truckers had warned them of the store's demise—aboard a communications satellite so that it can summon their mother ship, which has been waiting for them throughout their earthly exile. Margaret A. Chang lauded this last book of the series in the School Library Journal as a "cheerful, unpretentious tale." A Junior Bookshelf correspondent wrote of Wings: "Here is a real effort of creativity, and a criticism of society no less forceful for being clothed in the garb of comedy."

Pratchett has also penned books outside his two famed series. With Neil Gaiman, author of the popular "Sandman" comic books and several highly praised graphic novels, Pratchett wrote Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Predictions of Agnes Nutter, Witch. The story, which met with mixed reviews when it was published in 1990, spoofs the Bible's Book of Revelation and concerns the efforts of both an angel and a demon to prevent the end of the world because they have grown fond of mankind and life on Earth. Their tactics include such strategies as deliberately misplacing the Antichrist, who resides in an English suburb. Joe Queenan, critiquing the book in the New York Times Book Review, complained of "schoolboy wisecracks about Good, Evil, the Meaning of Life and people who drink Perrier." But Howard Waldrop in the Washington Post praised Good Omens: "When the book is talking about the big questions, it's a wow. It leaves room in both the plot and the readers' reactions for the characters to move around in and do unexpected but very human things."

In 1992 Pratchett penned the young-adult novel Only You Can Save Mankind, which, with its computer-game-playing protagonist, spoofs, among other things, the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Johnny, the book's hero, finds the tables turned upon him when the aliens he is fighting in his computer game suddenly surrender and enlist his aid. This humorous but ultimately serious tale has led to more "Johnny" titles, including Johnny and the Dead and Johnny and the Bomb. "Pratchett's philosophy is based on a humorous view of life and humanity," stated a reviewer in Junior Bookshelf, "and the fact that most of the characters in Johnny and the Dead are indeed dead does not mean that they are the less funny. The comedy and the philosophy are inseparable."

Pratchett won Great Britain's top award for children's literature with his book The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. In this tale, a cat named Maurice is behind a money-making scheme that involves rats and a piper named Keith. Trouble arises when the rats consume some magical trash and subsequently begin to develop moral scruples, questioning their way of life. "Pratchett's absorbing, suspenseful adventure is speeded along by the characters' wisecracking patter and deepened . . . by a willingness to tackle the questions of existence," stated Anita L. Burkham in Horn Book. Miranda Doyle commented in her School Library Journal review that The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents is "laugh-out-loud" funny, but also added, "Despite the humorous tone of the novel, there are some genuinely frightening moments."

Pratchett once told CA: "I've been a journalist of some sort all my working life, and I suppose I tend to think of the books as a kind of journalism—although writing them is as much fun as anyone can have by themselves sitting down with all their clothes on.

"I can't speak for the United States—three thousand miles is a great barrier to casual feedback—but what does gratify me in the United Kingdom is that the 'Discworld' books, which are not intended for children, have a big following among kids who, in the words of one librarian, 'don't normally read.'

"I got my education from books. The official schooling system merely prevented me from reading as many books as I would have liked. So from personal experience I know that getting children to read is important. Civilization depends on it."



Contemporary Novelists, 6th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.

St. James Guide to Children's Writers, 5th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.

St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.

Twentieth-Century Science Fiction Writers, St. James Press (Chicago, IL), 1991.


Analog Science Fiction & Fact, November, 2000, Tom Easton, review of The Fifth Elephant, p. 132.

Best Sellers, November, 1976, pp. 249-250.

Book, November-December, 2002, Chris Barsanti, "Terry Pratchett's Flat-out Success," p. 26; March-April, 2003, review of Night Watch, p. 39; May-June, 2003, review of The Wee Free Men, p. 30.

Booklist, April 15, 1998, Wilma Longstreet, review of Johnny and the Dead, p. 1460; June 1, 1998, Roland Green, review of Jingo, p. 1736; January 1, 2000, Roland Green, review of The Fifth Elephant, p. 834; August, 2000, Ray Olson, review of The Truth, p. 2075; September 15, 2001, Ray Olson, review of The Last Hero, p. 164; January 1, 2002, Sally Estes, review of The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, p. 842; September 1, 2002, Regina Schroeder, review of Night Watch, p. 7; April 15, 2003, Sally Estes, review of The Wee Free Men, p. 1465; August, 2003, Regina Schroeder, review of Monstrous Regiment, p. 1927.

Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Australia), July 5, 2003, Jason Nahrung, review of The Wee Free Men, p. M8.

Denver Post, May 27, 2001, Candace Horgan, review of Thief of Time, p. I6.

Fantasy Review, November, 1986, pp. 31-32.

Financial Times, June 13, 2002, Neil Gaiman, review of The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, p. 4.

Guardian, November 19, 1997, p. T14; November 9, 2002, A. S. Byatt, review of Night Watch, p. 27.

Horn Book, March-April, 1990, p. 202; May-June, 1991, p. 332; March-April, 2002, Anita L. Burkam, review of The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, p. 217; May-June, 2003, Anita L. Burkam, review of The Wee Free Men, p. 355.

Independent, May 19, 1998, p. 20.

Junior Bookshelf, December, 1990, p. 300; August, 1993, p. 157.

Library Journal, March 15, 2000, Jackie Cassada, review of The Fifth Elephant, p. 132; October 1, 2000, Douglas C. Lord, review of Feet of Clay and Guards! Guards! Guards! (audio versions), p. 165; October 15, 2000, Jackie Cassada, review of The Truth, p. 108; March 15, 2001, Douglas C. Lord, reviews of Hogfather and Jingo (audio versions), p. 126; November 15, 2001, Jackie Cassada, reviews of The Last Hero, p. 100, and Thief of Time, p. 166; November 15, 2002, Jackie Cassada, review of Night Watch, p. 106.

Locus, January 1989, p. 17; October, 1991, pp. 15, 17; June, 1992, p. 17; September, 1992, p. 66; February, 1993, p. 58.

Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March, 1998, Michelle West, review of Maskerade, p. 31; April, 1999, Michelle West, review of Hogfather, p. 36; October, 2000, Michelle West, review of The Fifth Elephant, p. 44; March, 2002, review of The Last Hero, p. 34.

New Scientist, May 18, 2002, Roger Bridgman, "Narrative Drive: What Makes Us Human?," p. 56; February, 2004, Michelle West, review of Monstrous Regiment, p. 35.

New Statesman, August 29, 1986, p. 26; January 29, 1988, p. 30; January 3, 1992, p. 33.

New York Times, September 28, 2003, Kerry Fried, review of Monstrous Regiment, p. 21.

New York Times Book Review, October 7, 1990, p. 27; December 15, 2002, Therese Littleton, review of Night Watch, p. 28; June 22, 2003, J. D. Biersdorfer, review of The Wee Free Men, p. 23; September 28, 2003, Kerry Fried, review of Monstrous Regiment, p. 21.

Observer (London, England), August 18, 2002, Rachel Redford, review of The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (audio version), p. 19.

Publishers Weekly, October 26, 1998, review of Hogfather, p. 47; September 27, 1999, review of Carpe Jugulum, p. 77; March 6, 2000, review of The Fifth Elephant, p. 87; October 30, 2000, review of The Truth, p. 52; April 9, 2001, review of Thief of Time, p. 55; October 15, 2001, review of The Last Hero, p. 51; November 5, 2001, review of The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, p. 70; September 30, 2002, review of Night Watch, p. 54; May 12, 2003, review of The Wee Free Men, p. 68; September 8, 2003, review of Monstrous Regiment, p. 61.

School Library Journal, September, 1991, pp. 258-259; August, 1998, Susan Salpini, review of Jingo, p. 197; April, 2000, review of Carpe Jugulum, p. 162; July, 2000, review of The Fifth Elephant, p. 130; August, 2000, Ray Olson, review of The Truth, p. 2075; December, 2001, Miranda Doyle, review of The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, p. 142; May, 2003, Sue Giffard, review of The Wee Free Men, p. 158.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Review, April, 1982, p. 20; March, 1984, p. 35.

Times (London, England), February 12, 1987; August 9, 1990; November 21, 1991, p. 16; December 21, 1997, p. N3; February 4, 1998, p. S6.

Times Literary Supplement, April 28, 1972, p. 475.

Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 1991, p. 366.

Washington Post, December 20, 1990.

Washington Post Book World, February 11, 1990, p. 6; March 27, 1994, p. 11.


Terry Pratchett Books, (January 7, 2004).*