Fifty Years of Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett

Sir Terry Pratchett OBE

Professor Sir Terry Pratchett OBE was the creator of the hugely successful Discworld series of novels, and became Britain’s best-selling author of adult fiction, writing over fifty wildly successful titles in his lifetime. Here we chronicle Terry’s life and highlight some exciting facts you may not have known about this incredible author and scholar of the human condition.

Terry’s first story was published, when he was just fourteen and he used the proceeds to purchase a typewriter. He left school aged seventeen, and worked as a journalist for his local newspaper, the Bucks Free Press. His first novel, The Carpet People – developed from stories he had written for the weekly children’s section of the newspaper – was published in 1971.  The first Discworld novel, The Colour of Magic was published in 1983 and Terry went on to write over fifty bestselling books. 

His interests were wide-ranging and eclectic, and are reflected in his books, which are littered with esoteric ideas and wisdom – from beekeeping, folklore and cheese-making, to quantum mechanics, astronomy and the finer aspects of Morris dancing.  In 2001, he won the Carnegie Medal for The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents and went on to receive many literary awards, ten honorary doctorates and the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1998 and knighted for services to literature in the 2009 New Year Honours. 

In 2007, Terry announced that he was suffering from posterior cortical atrophy, a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease. However he continued to write, penning (several?) more novels before his untimely death in 2015.  Terry’s final request was that the hard drive containing his unfinished novels be either crushed by a steamroller or fired into space. His assistant and friend, Rob Wilkins, chose the former, having decided that launching a rocket from their rural office in Wiltshire might be impractical. 

1948

Birth

28 April 1948

Terence David John Pratchett is born in Beaconsfield, Bucks to David and Eileen Pratchett Pratchett. Pictured here with his grandmother.

1953

Primary school

Terry begins school at Holtspur School in Beaconsfield

1954

Mr Tame, Head of Holtspur School tells Terry that he 'will never amount to anything'. These words are to stay with Terry throughout his life.

1959

High school

1 September 1959

Terry attends High Wycombe Technical College

1962

Short story

Terry's short story ‘Business Rivals’ is published in The Technical Cygnet, Wycombe High School's Technical Magazine

1963

The Hades Business

Terry's short story ‘The Hades Business’ is published in Science Fantasy – Terry is paid the princely sum of £14 for his work.

1964

Arthur C. Clarke

28 March 1964

Terry meets Arthur C. Clarke at RePetercon in Peterborough on a panel discussing ‘Does fandom need science fiction?’

1965

Trainee journalist

Following an advert for a youth to train as a journalist Terry becomes 'trainee journalist' with the Bucks Free Press earning £8 10s per week

1967

J.R.R. Tolkein

22 November 1967

Terry writes to J.R.R. Tolkein about Smith of Wootton Major and receives a reply

1968

Terry meets his agent

10 May 1968

Terry meets Colin Smythe in Gerrards Cross

1968

Marriage

5 October 1968

Terry marries girlfriend Lyn Purves at the Congregational Church in Gerrards Cross

1969

Roald Dahl

1 May 1969

Roald Dahl writes to Terry agreeing to an interview which is published as ‘The success story of a man without a message’ in the Mid-Week Free Press

1970

Moved to Somerset

Terry and Lyn move to Rowberrow, Somerset

1970

Reporter

28 September 1970

Terry starts working as a reporter at the Western Daily Press in Bristol

1971

15 November 1971

Terry's first novel, the Carpet People, is launched at Heal’s department store, Tottenham Court Road, London

1971

The Carpet People

16 November 1971

Terry's first novel is published

1973

Illustrations

13 July 1973

Terry creates the first of seventeen illustrations for ‘Warlock Hall’ in the Psychic Researcher & Spiritualist Gazette

1973

Bath West Chronicle

3 September 1973

Terry starts work at the Bath West Chronicle

1976

The Dark Side of the Sun

10 May 1976

The Dark Side of the Sun is published

1976

Terry's daughter is born

30 December 1976

Terry’s daughter, Rhianna is born

1981

Publicity Officer

15 June 1981

Terry starts work as the Publicity Officer for the Central Electricity Generating Board

1981

Strata

15 June 1981

Terry's novel Strata is published

1983

The Colour of Magic

24 November 1983

The first Discworld novel, featuring the hapless wizard Rincewind and his misadventures, is published

1984

Josh Kirby

4 April 1984

Artist Josh Kirby is commissioned to produce a new cover for The Colour of Magic

1985

Neil Gaiman

21 January 1985

Terry meets fellow journalist and writer Neil Gaiman for the first time when Neil interviews him for the June/July issue of 'Space Voyager' magazine

1986

The Light Fantastic

2 June 1986

The second Discworld novel is published

1987

Equal Rites

15 January 1987

The third Discworld novel is published

1987

Terry writes full time

12 November 1987

Terry gives up his position at The Central Electricity Generating Board to write full time

1987

Mort

12 November 1987

The fourth novel in the Discworld series is published

1988

Sourcery

26 May 1988

The fifth Discworld novel is published

1988

Wyrd Sisters

12 November 1988

The sixth Discworld book is published

1989

Pyramids

15 June 1989

The seventh Discworld book is published

1989

Truckers

25 September 1989

Truckers, the first novel in what will become the Bromeliad Series is published

1989

The Unadulterated Cat

5 October 1989

The Unadulterated Cat (illustrated by Gray Jolliffe) is published

1989

Guards! Guards!

9 November 1989

The eighth Discworld book is published

1989

Poster Book

10 November 1989

The Josh Kirby Poster Book, As Inspired by Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Novels is published

1990

Diggers

5 April 1990

Diggers, the second novel in the Bromeliad Trilogy is published

1990

Awards, Accolades, and Honorary Doctorates

13 April 1990

Terry receives an award from the British SF Association Award for Best Novel for Pyramids

1990

Good Omens

10 May 1990

Good Omens (with Neil Gaiman) is published

1990

Bernard Pearson

27 June 1990

Terry meets Bernard Pearson for the first time in Covent Garden and a lifelong friendship begins

1990

Eric

16 August 1990

The ninth Discworld book (illustrated by Josh Kirby) is published

1990

Wings

21 September 1990

Wings, the final book in the Bromeliad Trilogy is published

1990

Moving Pictures

8 November 1990

The tenth Discworld book is published

1990

Ian Stewart

9 November 1990

Whilst attending Novacon Terry is introduced to Ian Stewart by Jack Cohen who was the guest of honour

1991

Stephen Briggs

18 May 1991

Terry meets Stephen Briggs for the first time and a collaboration to map the Discworld is set in motion

1991

Reaper Man

23 May 1991

The eleventh Discworld book is published

1991

Witches Abroad

7 November 1991

The twelfth Discworld book is published

1992

Small Gods

21 May 1992

The thirteenth Discworld book is published

1992

Stephen Baxter

25 July 1992

Terry meets fellow author Stephen Baxter for the first time at the Minehead Space Age Festival

1992

Only You Can Save Mankind

17 September 1992

Only You Can Save Mankind is published

1992

Lords and Ladies

5 November 1992

The fourteenth Discworld book is published

1993

Johnny and the Dead is published

27 May 1993

Johnny and the Dead is published

1993

Rob Wilkins

12 June 1993

Terry meets Rob Wilkins for the first time at a book signing in WHSmith in Oxford and a lifelong friendship ensues

1993

Paul Kidby

19 October 1993

Terry meets artist Paul Kidby for the first time at a book signing in Bath

1993

Men at Arms

11 November 1993

The fifteenth Discworld book is published

1993

The Streets of Ankh-Morpork published

11 November 1993

The Streets of Ankh-Morpork (in collaboration with Stephen Briggs) is published

1994

New Home

19 May 1994

Terry and Lyn move to a ‘Domesday Manorette’ in the Wiltshire countryside

1994

Society of Authors

19 May 1994

Terry serves as Chairman of the Society of Authors (1994-1995)

1994

Soul Music

19 May 1994

The sixteenth Discworld book is published

1994

The Discworld Companion

18 August 1994

The Discworld Companion (in collaboration with Stephen Briggs) is published

1994

Interesting Times

2 November 1994

The seventeenth Discworld book is published

1995

Bill Gates

17 March 1995

Terry interviews Bill Gates for July 1995 issue of GQ

1995

Documentary

12 June 1995

The documentary Terry Pratchett’s Jungle Quest is broadcast on ITV

1995

Psephophorus terrypratchetti

2 November 1995

A new species of fossil turtle is discovered by Richard Kohler and named Psephophorus terrypratchetti

1995

Maskerade

2 November 1995

The eighteenth Discworld book is published

1996

Johnny and the Bomb

3 April 1996

Terry appears on Blue Peter to discuss Johnny and the Bomb which is published on the following day

1996

Feet of Clay

6 June 1996

The nineteenth Discworld book is published

1996

The Pratchett Portfolio

26 September 1996

The Pratchett Portfolio (illustrated by Paul Kidby) is published

1996

Discworld Convention

28 June 1996

The first Discworld Convention is held at the Britannia Sacha Hotel, Manchester

1996

Hogfather

7 November 1996

The twentieth Discworld book is published

1997

Desert Island Discs

9 February 1997

Terry appears on Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4. His favourite track is Thomas the Rhymer by Steeleye Span, his favourite book is 'Edible Plants of the South Seas' by Mile Massal and his chosen luxury is The Chrysler Building!

1997

Best SF/Fantasy author, Worst Dressed Person in SF

13 June 1997

Terry recieves an SFX award for Best SF/Fantasy author, Worst Dressed Person in SF and is inducted to their Hall of Fame for contributions to SF literature

1997

Jingo

6 November 1997

The twenty-first Discworld book is published

1998

A Tourist Guide to Lancre

1 May 1998

A Tourist Guide to Lancre (in collaboration with Stephen Briggs and illustrated by Paul Kidby) is published

1998

The Last Continent

11 May 1998

The twenty-second Discworld book is published

1998

Terry recieves OBE

10 June 1998

Terry is appointed an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in H.M. Queen Elizabeth II’s Birthday Honours List

1998

The Sea and Little Fishes

25 August 1998

The Sea and Little Fishes is published in Legends edited by Robert Silverberg

1998

Carpe Jugulum

5 November 1998

The twenty-third Discworld book is published

1999

Death’s Domain

1 May 1999

Discworld Mapp, Death’s Domain (with Paul Kidby) is published

1999

The Science of Discworld

3 June 1999

The Science of Discworld (with Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen) is published

1999

Awards, Accolades, and Honorary Doctorates

14 July 1999

Terry receives an Honorary Doctorate of Literature from the University of Warwick

1999

The Fifth Elephant

4 November 1999

The twenty-forth Discworld book is published

1999

Nanny Ogg’s Cook Book Published

4 November 1999

Nanny Ogg’s Cook Book (with Stephen Briggs, Tina Hannan and Paul Kidby) is published

2000

The Truth

2 November 2000

The twenty fifth Discworld book is published

2001

Services to Bookselling award

22 February 2001

Terry is awarded the Services to Bookselling award from The Bookseller

2001

Thief of Time

3 May 2001

The twenty sixth Discworld book is published

2001

Honorary Doctorate

9 July 2001

Terry receives an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Portsmouth

2001

The Last Hero

18 October 2001

The twenty-seventh Discworld book(illustrated by Paul Kidby) is published

2001

Josh Kirby passes away

23 October 2001

Josh Kirby, whose art had adorned so many Discworld books, passes away, aged 72

2001

The Amazing Maurice & His Educated Rodents

1 November 2001

The twenty-eighth Discworld book is published

2002

127005 Pratchett

1 April 2002

The asteroid 2002G<1 was discovered by J. Dellinger and W.G. Dillon at the George Observatory in Texas, and is named 127005 Pratchett

2002

The Science of Discworld II

2 May 2002

The Science of Discworld II: The Globe (with Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen) is published

2002

Carnegie Medal

12 July 2002

Terry wins the Carnegie Medal for The Amazing Maurice & His Educated Rodents

2002

Night Watch

7 November 2002

The twenty-ninth Discworld book is published

2002

Town twinning

7 December 2002

The City of Ankh-Morpork is twinned with Wincanton, Somerset. The Mayor of Wincanton and 'Lord Vetinari ' speak in Wincanton’s Town Hall

2003

Wee Free Men

1 May 2003

The thirtieth Discworld book is published

2003

Awards, Accolades, and Honorary Doctorates

29 August 2003

Terry receives the Prometheus Award for Night Watch

2003

Monstrous Regiment

1 October 2003

The thirty-first Discworld book is published

2003

Awards, Accolades, and Honorary Doctorates

10 December 2003

Terry receives an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Bath

2003

Achievement

13 December 2003

The BBC’s The Big Read announces that Terry has five novels in Britain’s Top 100 favourite books – a number equalled only by Charles Dickens!

2004

A Hat Full of Sky

29 April 2004

The thirty-second Discworld book is published

2004

Awards, Accolades, and Honorary Doctorates

30 June 2004

Terry receives Locus award for Best Young Adult Book for The Wee Free Men

2004

Awards, Accolades, and Honorary Doctorates

16 July 2004

Terry receives an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Bristol

2004

Once More With Footnotes

4 September 2004

Once More With Footnotes is published

2004

The Art of Discworld

30 September 2004

The Art of Discworld (with Paul Kidby) is published

2004

Going Postal

1 October 2004

The thirty-third Discworld book is published

2005

Science of Discworld III

5 May 2005

Science of Discworld III: Darwin’s Watch (with Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen) is published

2005

Awards, Accolades, and Honorary Doctorates

2 July 2005

Terry receives the Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book for A Hat Full of Sky

2005

Thud!

26 September 2005

The thirty-forth Discworld book is published

2005

Where’s my Cow?

26 September 2005

The thirty-forth Discworld book (illustrated by Melvyn Grant) is published

2006

Wintersmith

28 September 2006

The thirty-fifth Discworld book is published

2006

The Unseen University Cut Out Book

2 October 2006

The Unseen University Cut Out Book (with Bernard Pearson + Alan Batley) is published

2007

Awards, Accolades, and Honorary Doctorates

16 June 2007

Terry receives Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book for Wintersmith

2007

Making Money

24 September 2007

The thirty-sixth Discworld book is published

2007

The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld

24 September 2007

The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld (by Stephen Briggs) is published

2007

White House

29 September 2007

Terry attends the National Book Festival in Washington DC and has breakfast in the White House

2007

Alzheimer's diagnosis

7 December 2007

Terry is diagnosed with the Posterior Cortical Atrophy variant of Alzheimer’s Disease

2008

Charity donation

8 September 2008

Terry donates $1,000,000 to Alzheimer’s Research Trust

2008

Awards, Accolades, and Honorary Doctorates

21 June 2008

Terry receives the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel for Making Money

2008

The Folklore of Discworld

8 September 2008

The Folklore of Discworld (with Jacqueline Simpson) is published

2008

Awards, Accolades, and Honorary Doctorates

9 September 2008

Terry receives the Honorary Doctorate from Buckinghamshire New University

2008

Nation

11 September 2008

Nation is published

2008

Awards, Accolades, and Honorary Doctorates

12 December 2008

Terry receives an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Dublin (Trinity College)

2009

Living with Alzheimer’s Pt.1

4 February 2009

The first part of the documentary 'Terry Pratchett Living with Alzheimer’s' is broadcast on BBC 2

2009

Living with Alzheimer’s Pt.2

11 February 2009

The second part of the documentary 'Terry Pratchett Living with Alzheimer’s' is broadcast on BBC 2

2009

Skylark award

13 February 2009

Terry receives Skylark award from NEFSA at Boskone

2009

Knighthood

18 February 2009

Terry receives his knighthood from Her Majesty The Queen at Buckingham Palace

2009

Terry forges his own sword

23 April 2009

With the help of swordsmith Jake Keen, Terry builds a furnace in his garden to smelt the iron ore for his own sword. He adds a few pieces of the Sikhote Alin meteorite for good measure and christens the blade Thunderbolt Iron.

2009

Honorary Doctorate

18 July 2009

Terry receives an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Bradford

2009

Boston Globe-Horn Book

2 October 2009

Terry is awarded a Boston Globe-Horn Book for Nation

2009

Unseen Academicals

8 October 2009

The thirty-seventh Discworld book is published

2009

Honorary Doctorate

23 October 2009

Terry receives an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Winchester

2009

Lifetime Achievement Award

29 November 2009

Terry is awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding contribution to children’s writing at The Writer’s Guild Awards

2010

Dimbleby Lecture

1 February 2010

Terry gives the 2010 BBC Richard Dimbleby Lecture (read by Tony Robinson) titled ‘Shaking Hands with Death’

2010

I Shall Wear Midnight

2 September 2010

The thirty-eighth Discworld book and fourth Tiffany Aching novel is published

2010

Life Achievement Award

28 October 2010

Terry is awarded a Life Achievement Award at the 36th World Fantasy Convention in Colombus

2010

Outstanding Achievement Award

10 November 2010

Terry is awarded an Outstanding Achievement Award at the British Book Awards

2011

Awards, Accolades, and Honorary Doctorates

10 January 2011

Terry receives a Margaret A. Edwards Award honouring his significant and lasting contributions to young adult literature

2011

Choosing to Die

13 June 2011

The documentary Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die is broadcast on BBC 2

2011

Honorary Fellowship

20 July 2011

Terry receives a Honorary Fellowship from the University College London

2011

Awards, Accolades, and Honorary Doctorates

2 October 2011

Terry receives a Karl Edward Wagner Special Award for his important contribution to the genre, at FantasyCon, Brighton

2011

Snuff

13 October 2011

The thirty-ninth Discworld book is published

2012

Bafta win

27 May 2012

Terry wins a Bafta for the documentary Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die

2012

Other Awards, Accolades, and Honorary Doctorates

6 June 2012

Terry is awarded a Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Snuff

2012

The world of Poo

7 June 2012

Miss Felicity Beadle’s ‘The world of Poo’ (Terry Pratchett assisted by Bernard and Isobel Pearson with illustrations by Peter Dennis) is published

2012

The Long Earth

21 June 2012

The Long Earth (with Stephen Baxter) is published

2012

Dodger

13 September 2012

Dodger is published

2012

A Blink of the Screen

11 October 2012

A Blink of the Screen is published

2012

The Compleat Ankh-Morpork City Guide

8 November 2012

The Compleat Ankh-Morpork City Guide is published

2013

Documentary

17 January 2013

The documentary Terry Pratchett: Facing Extinction is broadcast on BBC 2

2013

Science of Discworld IV

11 April 2013

Science of Discworld IV: Judgement Day (with Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen) is published

2013

Humanist of the Year

7 June 2013

Terry is awarded Humanist of the Year at The British Humanist Association Annual Conference

2013

The Long War

20 June 2013

The Long War (with Stephen Baxter) is published

2013

Honorary Doctorate

28 September 2013

Terry receives an Honorary Doctorate from The Open University

2013

Raising Steam

7 November 2013

The fortieth Discworld book is published

2013

Dodger’s Guide to London

25 November 2013

Dodger’s Guide to London is published

2014

Other Awards, Accolades, and Honorary Doctorates

27 May 2014

Terry receives an Honorary Doctorate from the University of South Australia

2014

The Long Mars

19 June 2014

The Long Mars (with Stephen Baxter) is published

2014

Dragons at Crumbling Castle

11 September 2014

Dragons at Crumbling Castle, and other stories is published

2014

A Slip of the Keyboard

25 September 2014

A Slip of the Keyboard is published

2014

Mrs Bradshaw’s Guide

9 October 2014

Mrs Bradshaw’s Handbook (with the Discworld Emporium, illustrated by Peter Dennis) is published

2014

Terry's last day working in the chapel

5 December 2014

Terry writes in his office, The Chapel for the last time

2015

Terry passes away

12 March 2015

Sir Terry Pratchett OBE passes away in his home in Broad Chalke

2015

The Long Utopia

18 June 2015

The Long Utopia (with Stephen Baxter) is published

2015

The Shepherd's Crown

27 August 2015

The last Discworld novel, The Shepherd’s Crown is published at midnight

2015

The Compleat Discworld Atlas

22 October 2015

The Compleat Discworld Atlas (with the Discworld Emporium) is published

2015

Eleanor Farjeon Award

13 November 2015

The Children’s Book Circle’s 2015 Eleanor Farjeon Award given to Terry ‘celebrating his huge contribution to the world of children’s literature’

2016

Science Fiction & Fantasy Creators Hall of Fame

17 January 2016

Terry is made Inductee in The Museum of Pop Culture’s Science Fiction & Fantasy Creators Hall of Fame

2016

Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award

14 March 2016

The Science Fiction Writers of America announce that Sir Terry Pratchett is the 2016 recipient of its Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award

2016

Terry's Memorial

14 April 2016

The Terry Pratchett Memorial takes place at the Barbican Theatre, London. Rob Wilkins presents the Order of the Honeybee to a group of twelve to ensure the future of Terry’s creation. Attendees are given the Little Black Book

2016

The Long Cosmos

30 June 2016

The Long Cosmos (with Stephen Baxter) is published

2016

The Witch’s Vacuum Cleaner

25 August 2016

The Witch’s Vacuum Cleaner is published

2017

Back in Black

11 February 2017

BBC2 broadcasts the documentary Terry Pratchett: Back in Black

2017

Commemorative Plaque

7 March 2017

Sir Terry Pratchett Commemorative Plaque is unveiled by Rhianna Pratchett at Beaconsfield Public Library

2017

Exhibition

16 September 2017

Terry Pratchett: HisWorld exhibition opens at the Salisbury Museum. To coincide with the exhibition, a special folio The Little Blue Book is produced to raise money for RICE, the Research Institute for the Care of older people

2017

Filming of Good Omens

18 September 2017

Amazon and BBC Studios start filming Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

2017

Father Christmas’s Fake Beard

5 October 2017

Father Christmas’s Fake Beard, and other stories is published

2017

Terry Pratchett's Discworld Imaginarium

23 November 2017

Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Imaginarium, a book of Discworld paintings and illustrations by Paul Kidby is published

2017

Other Awards, Accolades, and Honorary Doctorates

16 May 2017

Terry Pratchett: HisWorld wins the Museums & Heritage award for best touring or temporary exhibition

2018

Other Awards, Accolades, and Honorary Doctorates

25 June 2018

The Shed of Doom and a Discworld display is unveiled at the Chalke Valley History Festival near Salisbury

2018

Filming of The Watch TV series

25 June 2018

BBC Studios begins pre-production of The Watch TV series

2019

Troll Bridge

16 January 2019

Troll Bridge, a short film based on Terry's story of the same name premieres

2018

HisWorld exhibition companion published

29 November 2018

The official guide to the Terry Pratchett: HisWorld exhibition is published, filled with photographs, insight and essays from notable people in Terry's life

2019

Good Omens World Premiere

28 May 2019

Good Omens premieres at Leicester Square. Terry's hat is an attendance, and is placed in a specially reserved seat.

2020

The Time Travelling Caveman

3 September 2020

A further collection of short stories from the start of Terry's career is published

2021

Good Omens series 2

25 October 2021

Amazon and BBC Studios start filming Good Omens series 2, with both Michael Sheen and David Tennant reprising their iconic roles

2021

The Abominable Snow Baby

25 October 2021

The short animated film, based on Terry's children's story of the same name, is broadcast for the first time on Channel 4 in the UK

2022

A Life with Footnotes

29 September 2022

The official biography of Sir Terry Pratchett is published. A Life with Footnotes was written by Terry's friend and business manager, Rob Wilkins, using his own recollections, as well as those of Terry's friends and family in addition to Terry's own notes.

2022

The Amazing Maurice

16 December 2022

The Amazing Maurice, the adaptation of the 2001 novel by Terry Pratchett, is released on Sky Movies in the UK.