Born in Beaconsfield in 1948, Sir Terry Pratchett is one of Britain’s most successful authors with more than 65 million books sold worldwide in 37 languages. He is best known for the Discworld series, which accounts for 39 of his books to date – the latest being Snuff, published October 2011. By the way, this number doesn’t include all the Discworld spinoffs – the companions, the mappes, The Science of Discworld books, The Folklore of Discworld, the diaries, etc, etc.
In July 1999 he received an honorary Doctorate of Literature (D.Litt.) from the University of Warwick (and in turn granted doctorates of the Unseen University to Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, co-authors with him of The Science of Discworld). This was the first of a string of honorary doctorates, from the University of Portsmouth (2001), the University of Bath (2003), and Bristol University (2004). Terry is now an adjunct Professor at Trinity College, Dublin University, and in November 2010 went to Dublin to give his inaugural lecture and masterclasses, as he did so again in March 2011.
In 2007 he was diagnosed with Posterior Cortical Atrophy, a rare form of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Since the diagnosis, he has donated £500,000 to the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, and become something of a figurehead for dementia sufferers. In 2009 he gave the BBC Richard Dimbleby Lecture on the subject of assisted dying. He has appeared in the BBC documentaries “Living with Alzheimer’s” and “Choosing to Die”.
He was awarded the OBE in 1998 for services to literature and knighted in 2009 ‘in recognition of the huge impact his work has had across all ages and strata of society and across the world’.
In 2009 the British National Theatre staged an adaptation of his novel Nation, which was shown around Australia by NT Live. In July 2010 he won the Brit Writers Published Writer of the Year Award for Nation. He is an active supporter of the Orang-Utan Foundation and in 1995 he went out to Borneo with a film crew to see orang-utans in their native habitat and to make the program Terry Pratchett’s Jungle Quest. A similar trip occurred in early 2012 with a BBC documentary film crew.
With thanks to Colin Smythe for much of the detail (www.colinsmythe.co.uk), the University of Warwick for the photo – and Sir Terry, of course.