TRIBUTES have flooded in after the death of Sir Terry Pratchett, one of the world’s most popular science fiction and fantasy authors, at the age of 66 after a battle against illness.
The creator of the “Discworld” series wrote more than 70 books and racked up worldwide sales of more than 85 million.
The English writer had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in recent years, died at home surrounded by his family. He had earned huge respect with a dignified campaign for the right of critically-ill patients to choose assisted suicide.
The celebrated writer had his first book published in 1971, 12 years before his first Discworld novel appeared, and released his last book, a new Discworld novel, in the summer of 2014.
Born in Buckinghamshire, Sir Terry had his first short story published at the age of 13, and later began working for the Bucks Free Press newspaper. After various positions in journalism, he became press officer for the Central Electricity Generation Board in 1983, but left four years later to concentrate on his writing.
At the peak of his writing powers, Sir Terry was publishing more than three books a year. At the turn of the century, he was Britain’s second most-read author, beaten only by Edinburgh-based Harry Potter creator JK Rowling.
Sir Terry’s thousands of fans on Twitter were alerted to the news of his death by a series of messages shortly after 3pm yesterday.
The messages read: “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.
Larry Finlay, managing director at Transworld, Sir Terry’s publishers, said he was “deeply saddened” by the news.
He added: “The world has lost one of its brightest, sharpest minds. In over 70 books, Terry enriched the planet like few before him. As all who read him know, Discworld was his vehicle to satirize this world: he did so brilliantly, with great skill, enormous humour and constant invention.
“Terry faced his Alzheimer’s disease (an ‘embuggerance’, as he called it) publicly and bravely. Over the last few years, it was his writing that sustained him. His legacy will endure for decades to come.”
Fellow fantasy writer Neil Gaiman said: “There was nobody like him. I was fortunate to have written a book with him, when we were younger, which taught me so much. I knew his death was coming and it made it no easier. I’ll miss you, Terry.”
Sir Terry had waged a very public struggle with Alzheimer’s disease after announcing his diagnosis and was a patron of the Alzheimer’s Research UK charity.
He was also one of Britain’s most prominent right-to-die campaigners and featured in a TV documentary about suicide in which he followed a man with motor neurone disease to the controversial Dignitas clinic in Switzerland.
Hilary Evans, director of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Sir Terry’s uniquely witty and affecting announcement of his diagnosis with Alzheimer’s at our conference will be seen as a watershed moment for all people living with dementia. It engendered huge public awareness of Alzheimer’s and issued a call to arms for society to talk about dementia and take steps towards defeating it.
Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying, which the author was also a patron of, said: “Terry was a committed campaigner who did an enormous amount to bring assisted dying for terminally ill people to the public’s attention.
“Sir Terry was fond of saying ‘it’s time we learned to be as good at dying as we are at living’ and his brave approach to confronting issues of death, including his own, was a heartfelt demonstration of dignity.”
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “His books fired the imagination of millions and he fearlessly campaigned for dementia awareness.”
SIR TERRY PRATCHETT QUOTES
A selection of quotes from the late Sir Terry Pratchett:
• ‘’Legal or not, I intend to end my life on the lawn of my house with a glass of brandy in my hand’’ - Sir Terry speaking in August 2009.
• ‘’It is possible to live well with dementia and write best-sellers ‘like wot I do’’’ - On juggling life and work in May 2014.
• ‘’Oh dear me, the Booker people don’t like me. I don’t care. I have been given an award for being taken not seriously, and I am very, very pleased about that’’ - Sir Terry speaking in June 2012, as an author who sold millions of books worldwide.
• ‘’If my father could have sat up in bed and said goodbye, I’d have pressed the button. I wouldn’t have been able to see for crying, but I would have considered that a duty’’ - Sir Terry speaking in September 2010.
• ‘’You are only in first class because you put letters in an amusing order. You really don’t deserve it’’ - Sir Terry addresses himself while looking in a mirror during a first-class flight in May 2010.
• ‘’Making money isn’t something to be ashamed of. There’s a feeling now that if you have money you must have got it by some kind of shady dealing or being an MP’’ - Sir Terry in May 2010.
• ‘’If I had been Terry Pratchett the farmer, or Terry Pratchett the dentist, nobody would have paid any attention if I had announced I had Alzheimer’s. But there is something fascinating about an author losing the power over words’’ - Sir Terry speaking in April 2009.
• ‘’Everybody thinks the Government should be doing more about everything but just think how many of the bonuses which are quite rightly being dragged off certain people, just think to what good causes they could be put - wouldn’t that be a lovely thought’?’ - Sir Terry speaking in February 2009.
• ‘’In the world I live in, ‘not worse’ is nearly as good as ‘better’’’ - Sir Terry, again in February 2009.
• ‘’There are times when phrases such as ‘totally astonished’ just don’t do the job. I am, of course, delighted and honoured and, needless to say, flabbergasted’’ - Sir Terry in January 2009 when he was given a knighthood.