I read ferociously as a child, going through whatever my local library could throw at me at incredible pace. As a teenager I continued to read, though not quite at the same pace, and by my twenties this frequency had dropped even further. In my thirties, I read even less, maybe one book every year and a half – if that.
However, without fail, you can be guaranteed that that one book is without a doubt something written by Sir Terry Pratchett, a lifelong favourite of mine – indeed a man whose books I read at every twist and turn of my life, and whose books I’ll probably continue to read until the day that I die. (His is also the only author whose books I could actually be bothered to own!)
Sadly though, going forward there won’t be much more of that.
On the 12th of March 2015, at the young age of 66, following a long and drawn out battle against a particularly vicious early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, Sir Terry Pratchett passed away.
His passing was announced on his official Twitter account in the most apt way possible (in his books, Death always speaks in capitals):
AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER.
Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.
Taken from the official press release: “Terry passed away in his home, with his cat sleeping on his bed surrounded by his family on 12th March 2015. Diagnosed with PCA1 in 2007, he battled the progressive disease with his trademark determination and creativity, and continued to write. He completed his last book, a new Discworld novel, in the summer of 2014, before succumbing to the final stages of the disease.”
For those of you who are perhaps not so familiar with the name, a quick grab off Wikipedia yields the following:
“Sir Terence David John “Terry” Pratchett, Kt, OBE (28 April 1948 – 12 March 2015) was an English author of fantasy novels, especially comical works. He is best known for his Discworld series of about 40 volumes. Pratchett’s first novel, The Carpet People, was published in 1971, and since his first Discworld novel, The Colour of Magic, was published in 1983, he wrote two books a year on average. His 2011 Discworld novel Snuff was at the time of its release the third-fastest-selling hardback adult-audience novel since records began in the UK, selling 55,000 copies in the first three days.
Pratchett, who has sold more than 85 million books worldwide in 37 languages, was the UK’s best-selling author of the 1990s.
Pratchett was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1998 and was knighted for services to literature in the 2009 New Year Honours. In 2001 he won the annual Carnegie Medal for The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, the first Discworld book marketed for children. He received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 2010.”
A comical literary legend indeed.
So that’s that then. I’m pleased that I can say that I actually met the man in real life, way back when I was still in school (i.e. sometime back in the 90’s), when good friend Terrance Brown dragged me off with him to Middle Campus at the University of Cape Town for a seminar (where I remember Terry spoke quite a bit on the topic of orangutans) and book signing stint (I remember taking a picture of Terrance and Terry together).
In fact, it was that very meeting that got me started on Pratchett’s books in the first place!
I’ll miss the the clever wit, excellent storytelling, fantastic settings, and colourful characters that Terry dreamed up over the years, but that said, thanks to his prolific writing nature, there will always be such a big backlog to devour over and over again that I doubt he and his contribution to the literary world will ever quite be forgotten!
Well certainly not by me, that’s for sure. Rest in peace Sir Terry Pratchett.
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Pratchett