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Terry Pratchett is an internationally acclaimed author who specializes in fantasy books. He was born Terrence David John Pratchett in 28th of April 1948 in Beaconsfield Buckinghamshire, England. He was the only child of David and Eileen Pratchett. He spent his early life in Bridgewater, Somerset where he sat for his eleven plus exam and passed. He got a place for himself in John Hampden Grammar School due to his brilliant performance. He usually attributes his education to the Beaconsfield library where he spent most of his time during his childhood.
Surprisingly, his early ambitions were not in the literary world, he had dreams of becoming an astronomer as a child and even centered his hobbies on this but his dreams were shattered due to his lack of prerequisite mathematical skills. This is when his interest for reading science fiction books was born. He read both American and British science fiction literature and attended all the science fiction conventions held between 1963 and 1964 until he got his first job in the late 1960s. At a tender age of thirteen, Pratchett was already showing early signs of his literary genius when he wrote his first short story as a student for the school magazine which had a title of “The Hades Business”. It later got recognition by a press publishing company and was published when he was only fifteen.
Education and career life
He studied O- levels and A-levels where he majored in Art, History and English. He started out as a journalist as a teenager of seventeen years in 1965. He was working at Bucks Free Press where he wrote many stories. His most popular stories at the press were the children stories where he used to sign off as Uncle Jim. One of his characters in this series was also featured in his first comic book The Carpet People. He wrote a story in all the 250 issues that were done during his tenure there. He went back to college and finished his A- levels and also enrolled for a journalism course.
His big break came in 1968 when working as a journalist. He was conducting an interview with Peter Bander Van Duren, a co-director of a small press company. He happened to mention that he had written a manuscript of a comic book to which the co- director expressed interest in and that is how the famous book The Carpet People came to life in 1971. Since then, there has been no looking back for Pratchett. He was motivated to write more books after seeing how well his first book had been received by his audience. He wrote two other science novels shortly after, The Dark Side in 1976 and the Strata in 1981. At that time, he had quit journalism to become a press office for the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) in an area which had a scope of three nuclear power stations.
In 1983, he wrote his first Discworld novel The Colour Of Magic which was published by his friend Colin Smythe. This book did so well in the market that the BBC decided to broadcast a series on it in 1985. Pratchett quit working at CEGB and decided to become a fulltime author in 1987. By this time he had already written four discworld novels. The volume of sales for his works skyrocketed in Europe and his books were topping most chats in the world. He had already become a household name and had acquired a celebrity status both in his county and in the entire Europe. By 1996, he was the highest earning author in Britain. By 2005 he had a market share of 3.4% of the fiction literature in Britain. World wide, he is ranked 5th position with 1.2% sales behind other famous writers in his league. These include James Petterson, Alexander McCall Smith, John Grisham and J.R.R Tolkien. His sales in his country of birth are about 2.5 million copies a year which have made him very wealthy. He is living proof that an author can make a living out of writing and not just the conventional adult books but even the children fantasy books.
Currently, Pratchett lives with his wife and daughter in Broad Chalke, a village situated west of Salisbury, in Wiltshie. He got married to his wife Lyn in 1968 and their daughter who has followed her father’s footsteps to become an author as well, was born to them in 1967. Up to today, he has written and published over fifty books. A number of them have been adopted into television programmes for children. Despite his great achievements, he still continues to write in his old age. He has also received many accolades due to his great works. For instance, in the year 2008 he was knighted in the loyal 2009 New Years Honours which is a testimony of his influence in the fiction world.
Unfortunately, his life is not without some setbacks, in 2007 he was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition, the Alzheimer’s disease after an earlier misdiagnosis the same year of having a minor stroke. This disease is known to affect a person’s mental faculties and consequently impair his cognitive functions; however, Pratchett’s writing abilities have not been affected. He still continues to write more books by dictating to his assistant. He has also been involved in championing for research into the cure for this disease and even donated &1,000,000 to a medical research facility which is involved in looking for a cure for the disease. He has even tried to draw the England’s Prime Minister’s attention to this crisis in his self appointed role as the representative of other patients with the same disease. In a recent documentary with the BBC, he declared that he will prefer to die through the euthanasia method rather than wait until the diseases has advanced to the last critical stages when he will not be able to remember anything and his cognitive abilities will be diminished.
Despite all these challenges he is facing in his late sixty’s, Pratchett is still a jovial person and he tries as much as possible to attend functions such as comic con and mingle with his fans whenever his health is not failing him.
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