Much-loved author Sir Terry Pratchett passed away today (12th March), at the age of 66, his publisher Penguin Random House has announced.
Pratchett, the author of the Discworld series, had been suffering from posterior cortical atrophy (PCA), a type of Alzheimer’s. He passed away at home.
Larry Finlay, m.d. at Transworld, said: "I was deeply saddened to learn that Sir Terry Pratchett has died. The world has lost one of its brightest, sharpest minds. In over 70 books, 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.
"My sympathies go out to Terry's wife Lyn, their daughter Rhianna, to his close friend Rob Wilkins, and to all closest to him."
Pratchett's official Twitter account @terryandrob announced the news today with a post written in the all-caps style of Death, a recurring character in the Discworld novels and other Pratchett books. The post read: "AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER", and was followed by "Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night." A final post simply said: "The End."
Colin Smythe, Pratchett's agent for decades, told The Bookseller: "We’ve been working together since 1968, when he was still (just) a teenager - it was a good working relationship. Not many survive that long between author and then publisher turned agent. I have been very fortunate to work with and for an author whose books never pall on being reread, always something new to find, be amused by, and learn from. And admire his craftsmanship as a writer, as well as genius.”
Penguin Random House has set up a Just Giving page to raise money in his memory for the Research Institute to the Care of Older People (RICE), with donations already flooding in. The site has raised more than £25,000 in less than 24 hours.
Booksellers responded with sadness to the news. Waterstones SF buyer Kate McHale said: “We’re really saddened to hear the news about Sir Terry. Few writers could match him for humour, ingenuity or wisdom, and his novels are loved fiercely by a huge number of people, myself included. He was a real original and British fiction is poorer without him.”
Danielle Culling, a bookseller at Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath, said: "It's incredibly sad news. We have huge, huge fans of him coming in. When we run a book spa session to find out what people like to read, nearly everyone has a Terry Pratchett book they love. He was popular across the whole range, from adults to children's. We loved his children's books, because they never spoke down to children, and never patronised."
Dave Faulds, a bookseller at Dulwich Books, said: "I was lucky enough to do an event with him a couple of years ago, and he was one of the most inspiring authors to work with, and a fantastic and brilliant man. He captured something that I don't think any other writers have ever managed to do. He inspired so many people to pick up a book. Discworld began years ago, but people were always waiting for the next one to come out. It's a huge loss for the industry, and a huge loss for literature as well."
Wayne Winstone, owner of Winstone Books, said: “The thing that deeply impressed me was how much he appreciated his fans. When we did signings he always insisted we look after the fans in the queue, and a lot of authors don’t consider that side of things.”
The Society of Authors, where Terry Pratchett was chairman in 1994/5, said: "It is with deep sadness that we heard Sir Terry Pratchett has died. His books have entertained people around the globe, reaching the most avid and the most reluctant readers alike. A writer's time is precious but he was ever generous in giving his energy, backing and eloquence to good causes.” Mark le Fanu, hwo was chief executive of the SoA when Pratchett was chairman, said: "As you would expect he conducted board meetings with common sense, levity and the skill of an entertainer. His standing and popularity were immensely valuable to the Society's campaigns and he entered frays with gusto, vigour and a warm empathy for those less fortunate than himself."
Fellow authors also paid respects. Neil Gaiman, a friend of Pratchett's who co-wrote the novel Good Omens (Corgi) with him, said on his website: "There was nobody like him. I was fortunate to have written a book with him, when we were younger, which taught me so much."
Philip Pullman said: "There is nothing spiteful, nothing bitter or sarcastic in his humour. But he was also very shy, and happiest with his family. Everybody who reads his work would agree Death was one of his finest creations - Terry in some way has now shaken hands with one of his greatest-ever creations."
Science fiction writer Ursual Le Guin said: “I am very sorry to hear that Terry Pratchett is gone, he will be much missed, but what a legacy of wit and good cheer he leaves us.", while Val McDermid said: “RIP Terry Pratchett. Sympathies to all who loved him. And to us readers who loved his creations. No more Nac Mac Feegles, Sam Vimes et al … The world is a less fantastic place tonight.”
On social media, prime minister David Cameron tweeted: “Sad to hear of Sir Terry Pratchett's death, his books fired the imagination of millions and he fearlessly campaigned for dementia awareness.” Author and journalist Caitlin Moran tweeted: “I can’t imagine a 13-year-old alive who wouldn’t be changed a bit, for the better, by reading Terry Pratchett. It’s a brilliant world-view to absorb at that age. It gives you a great knack for coping with life.” Children's author Katherine Rundell called him "a spectacular human."
Pratchett's 40th Discworld book, Raising Steam, was published by Doubleday in 2013 and last year Random House Children’s published a collection of his short stories, entitled Dragons at Crumbling Castle. According to the JustGiving page, Pratchett completed his last book, a new Discworld novel, in the summer of 2014, before succumbing to the final stages of the disease.
His extraordinary sales topped 12.7m in the UK during the Nielsen BookScan era and he won the Carnegie Medal in 2001 for his book The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents.