By Shauna Chaffin, Danelle Huggett, Min Joo Lee, Elizabeth Loiler, and Amelia Lowry
According to Colin Smythe, Sir Terrance David John “Terry” Pratchett was born on April 18th, 1948 in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire of England. As a child he wished to be an astronomer, but since he lacked the mathematical skills to go into that field, he gave up on this dream (Smythe). This passion for astronomy led to his interest in science fiction, which brought him to his first forays into writing. He published his first short story, “The Hades Business,” in his school magazine when he was thirteen. He passed his eleven plus exam (the English equivalent to the American high school diploma) in 1959 and went on to a technical school because he thought woodwork would be more exciting than learning Latin. He left school for good in 1965, after receiving a job offer, and in 1987 he became a full-time author. (Smythe).
Pratchett is mostly known for his comical fantasy novels set in his ‘Discworld,’ a universe made of a large disk carried on the backs of four enormous elephants, which in turn stand on the shell of an immense turtle. As of 2011, there are thirty-nine books in the series, beginning with The Colored People, which was published in 1983. This series is part of the recent boom in popularity of the fantasy genre. According to the New York Times, Pratchett was the most popular and top-selling author in Britain in 1996, and according to a survey done by the Bookseller’s Pocket Yearbook 2005, he is second only to J.K. Rowling in the number of books sold (FamousAuthors).
Nation is the first non-Discworld book he has written in over ten years, and so he found it very difficult to write. In an interview uploaded on YouTube by beyondthebooks, Pratchett explains that he woke up one day with an image in his mind of a young man standing on a beach, holding a spear. He wasn’t thinking of writing this novel since he had other ongoing projects, but without being conscious of it he began gathering sources and writing bits of the story. Pratchett wondered why this young spear-holding man was so angry, and before long Nation was born. Like his main series, Discworld, Nation contains many fantasy elements. However, it is more realistic than his usual fare because it is set in a world like ours—although not quite the same (YouTube interview).
Pratchett is a highly awarded author and has been appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for “services to literature” in 1998, and a knighthood for the same reason in 2009. His honors for his Young Adult Literature include the Carnegie Medal in Literature (2001), the Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book (2004, 2005, and 2007), the Andre Norton Award (2010), and the Margaret A. Edwards Award (2011). He received a World Fantasy award for lifetime achievement in 2010, and has been awarded eight doctorates from various universities (Smythe).
He currently lives in Salisbury, England with his wife Lynn and his daughter Rhianna Pratchett.
Smythe, Colin. “Terry Pratchett A Short Biography by Colin Smythe.” Terry Pratchett. N.p., 2011. Web. 19 Oct. 2012.
“Terry Pratchett.” 2012. FamousAuthors.org 19 October 2012.
Nation ~ An interview with Terry Pratchett [Video]. YouTube 2008, Retrieved 19 Oct. 2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=chrqB9Y5d9U
“Terry Pratchett.” Wikipedia. N.p., 15 Oct. 2012. Web. 19 Oct. 2012.