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Not to be confused with Terry Patchett.

Sir Terence David John PratchettOBE (28 April 1948 – 12 March 2015), better known as Terry Pratchett, was an English author of fantasy novels, especially comical works.[2] He is best known for his Discworld series of 41 novels. Pratchett's first novel, The Carpet People, was published in 1971. The first Discworld novel, The Colour of Magic, was published in 1983, after which 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-readership novel since records began in the UK, selling 55,000 copies in the first three days.[3] His final Discworld novel, The Shepherd's Crown, was published in August 2015, five months after his death.

Pratchett, with more than 85 million books sold worldwide in 37 languages,[4][5] was the UK's best-selling author of the 1990s.[6][7] He 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.[8][9] In 2001 he won the annual Carnegie Medal for The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, the first Discworld book marketed for children.[10][11] He received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 2010.[12]

In December 2007, Pratchett announced that he had been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease.[13] He later made a substantial public donation to the Alzheimer's Research Trust[14] (now Alzheimer's Research UK), filmed a television programme chronicling his experiences with the disease for the BBC, and also became a patron for Alzheimer's Research UK.[15] Pratchett died on 12 March 2015 aged 66.[16]

Early life[edit]

Pratchett was born on 28 April 1948[1][17] in Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire, England (where he attended Holtspur School), the only child of David (1921-2006) and Eileen Pratchett (born 1922),[dubious– discuss] of Hay-on-Wye.[1][18] His family moved to Bridgwater, Somerset, briefly in 1957, following which he passed his eleven plus exam in 1959, earning a place in High Wycombe Technical High School[1][19] (now John Hampden Grammar School) where he was a key member of the debating society[20] and wrote stories for the school magazine.[21] Pratchett described himself as a "non-descript student" and, in his Who's Who entry,[1] credits his education to the Beaconsfield Public Library.[22]

His early interests included astronomy.[23] He collected Brooke Bond tea cards about space, owned a telescope[24] and wanted to be an astronomer but lacked the necessary mathematical skills.[23] He developed an interest in reading science fiction[24] and began attending science fiction conventions from about 1963–1964, but stopped when he got his first job a few years later.[24] His early reading included the works of H. G. Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, and "every book you really ought to read", which he later regarded as "getting an education".[25]

Pratchett published his first short story entitled "Business Rivals" in the High Wycombe Technical School magazine in 1962. It is the tale of a man named Crucible who finds the Devil in his flat in a cloud of sulphurous smoke.[18] "The Hades Business", which was published in the school magazine when he was 13, was published commercially when he was 15.[26]

Pratchett earned five O-levels and started A-level courses in Art, English and History. His initial career choice was journalism and he left school at 17 in 1965 to start an apprenticeship with Arthur Church, the editor of the Bucks Free Press, where he wrote, amongst other things, over eighty stories for the Children's Circle section under the name Uncle Jim. Two of these episodic stories contains characters found in his novel The Carpet People (1971).[27] While on day release from his apprenticeship he finished his A-Level in English and took the National Council for the Training of Journalists proficiency course where he received the highest marks of his group.[28]

Early career[edit]

Pratchett had his writing breakthrough in 1968 when he interviewed Peter Bander van Duren, co-director of a small publishing company, Colin Smythe Ltd. During the meeting, Pratchett mentioned he had written a manuscript, The Carpet People.[29] Colin Smythe Ltd published the book in 1971, with illustrations by the author. The book received strong, if few, reviews[30] and was followed by the science fiction novels The Dark Side of the Sun (10 May 1976) and Strata (15 June 1981).

After various positions in journalism, in 1980 Pratchett became Press Officer for the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) in an area which covered four nuclear power stations. He later joked that he had demonstrated "impeccable timing" by making this career change so soon after the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in Pennsylvania, US, and said he would "write a book about my experiences, if I thought anyone would believe it".[31]

The first Discworld novel, The Colour of Magic, was published in hardback by Colin Smythe Ltd in 1983. The paperback edition was published by Corgi, an imprint of Transworld, in 1985. Pratchett's popularity increased when the BBC's Woman's Hour broadcast The Colour of Magic as a serial in six parts, and later Equal Rites. Subsequently, the hardback rights were taken by the publishing house Victor Gollancz Ltd, which remained Pratchett's publisher until 1997, Colin Smythe having become Pratchett's agent. Pratchett was the first fantasy author published by Gollancz.[28]

Pratchett gave up working for the CEGB to make his living through writing in 1987, after finishing the fourth Discworld novel, Mort. His sales increased quickly and many of his books occupied top places on the best-seller list. According to The Times, Pratchett was the top-selling and highest earning UK author in 1996.[28] Some of his books have been published by Doubleday, another Transworld imprint. In the US, Pratchett is published by HarperCollins.

According to the Bookseller's Pocket Yearbook (2005), in 2003 Pratchett's UK sales amounted to 3.4% of the fiction market by hardback sales and 3.8% by value, putting him in second place behind J. K. Rowling (6% and 5.6%, respectively), while in the paperback sales list Pratchett came 5th with 1.2% and 1.3% by value (behind James Patterson (1.9% and 1.7%), Alexander McCall Smith, John Grisham, and J. R. R. Tolkien).[32] His sales in the UK alone are more than 2.5 million copies a year.[33][better source needed]

Later life[edit]

Pratchett married Lyn Purves at the Congregational Church, Gerrards Cross, on 5 October 1968,[28] and they moved to Rowberrow, Somerset, in 1970. Their daughter Rhianna Pratchett, who is also a writer, was born there in 1976. In 1993, the family moved to Broad Chalke, a village west of Salisbury, Wiltshire.[34] He listed his recreations as "writing, walking, computers, life".[35] He described himself as a humanist and was a Distinguished Supporter of Humanists UK (formerly known as the British Humanist Association)[36] and an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society.[37] He was the patron of the Friends of High Wycombe Library.[38] In 2013 he gave a talk at Beaconsfield Library which he had visited as a child and donated the income from the event to it. On a number of occasions he also visited his former school to speak to the students and look around.[18]

Pratchett was well known for his penchant for wearing large, black fedora hats,[39] as seen on the inside back covers of most of his books. His style has been described as "more that of urban cowboy than city gent."[40]

Concern for the future of civilisation prompted him to install five kilowatts of photovoltaic cells (for solar energy) at his house.[41] Having been interested in astronomy since childhood, he had an observatory built in his garden.[23][24] An asteroid (127005 Pratchett) is named after him.[42]

On 31 December 2008, it was announced that Pratchett was to be knighted (as a Knight Bachelor) in the Queen's 2009 New Year Honours.[8][43] He formally received the accolade at Buckingham Palace on 18 February 2009.[44] Afterwards he said, "You can't ask a fantasy writer not to want a knighthood. You know, for two pins I'd get myself a horse and a sword."[45] In late 2009, he did make himself a sword, with the help of his friends. He told a Times Higher Education interviewer that "At the end of last year I made my own sword. I dug out the iron ore from a field about 10 miles away – I was helped by interested friends. We lugged 80 kilos of iron ore, used clay from the garden and straw to make a kiln, and lit the kiln with wildfire by making it with a bow.' Colin Smythe, his long-term friend and agent, donated some pieces of meteoric iron – 'thunderbolt iron' has a special place in magic and we put that in the smelt, and I remember when we sawed the iron apart it looked like silver. Everything about it I touched, handled and so forth ... And everything was as it should have been, it seemed to me."[46]

In 2013 Pratchett was named Humanist of the Year by the British Humanist Association (now known as Humanists UK) for his campaign to fund research into Alzheimers, his contribution to the right to die public debate and his Humanist values.[47]

Alzheimer's disease[edit]

In August 2007, Pratchett was misdiagnosed as having had a minor stroke a few years before, which doctors believed had damaged the right side of his brain.[40][48][49] In December 2007, he announced that he had been newly diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease, which had been responsible for the "stroke".[49] He had a rare form of posterior cortical atrophy (PCA),[48][40] a disease in which areas at the back of the brain begin to shrink and shrivel.[14]

Describing the diagnosis as an "embuggerance" in a radio interview, Pratchett appealed to people to "keep things cheerful" and proclaimed that "we are taking it fairly philosophically down here and possibly with a mild optimism."[50] He stated he felt he had time for "at least a few more books yet", and added that while he understood the impulse to ask "is there anything I can do?", in this case he would only entertain such offers from "very high-end experts in brain chemistry."[50] Discussing his diagnosis at the Bath Literature Festival in early 2008, Pratchett revealed that by then he found it too difficult to write dedications when signing books.[51] In his later years Pratchett wrote by dictating to his assistant, Rob Wilkins, or by using speech recognition software.[52]

In March 2008, Pratchett announced he would donate US$1,000,000 (about £494,000) to the Alzheimer's Research Trust, and that he was shocked "to find out that funding for Alzheimer's research is just 3% of that to find cancer cures."[14][53] He said: "I am, along with many others, scrabbling to stay ahead long enough to be there when the cure comes along."[14]

In April 2008, Pratchett worked with the BBC to make a two-part documentary series about his illness, Terry Pratchett: Living With Alzheimer's.[54] The first part was broadcast on BBC Two on 4 February 2009, drawing 2.6 million viewers and a 10.4% audience share.[55] The second, broadcast on 11 February 2009, drew 1.72 million viewers and a 6.8% audience share.[56] The documentary won a BAFTA award in the Factual Series category.[57] Pratchett also made an appearance on The One Show on 15 May 2008, talking about his condition. He was the subject and interviewee of the 20 May 2008 edition of On the Ropes (Radio 4), discussing Alzheimer's and how it had affected his life.

On 8 June 2008, news reports indicated that Pratchett had an experience which he described as: "It is just possible that once you have got past all the gods that we have created with big beards and many human traits, just beyond all that, on the other side of physics, there just may be the ordered structure from which everything flows" and "I don't actually believe in anyone who could have put that in my head".[58][59] He went into further detail on Front Row, in which he was asked if this was a shift in his beliefs: "A shift in me in the sense I heard my father talk to me when I was in the garden one day. But I'm absolutely certain that what I heard was my memories of my father. An engram, or something in my head...This is not about God, but somewhere around there is where gods come from."[60]

On 26 November 2008, Pratchett met the Prime Minister Gordon Brown and asked for an increase in dementia research funding.[61] Pratchett tested a prototype device to address his condition.[62][63] The ability of the device to alter the course of the illness has been met with scepticism from Alzheimer's researchers.[64]

In an article published mid-2009, Pratchett stated that he wished to die by assisted suicide (although he disliked that term) before his disease progressed to a critical point.[65] He later said he felt "it should be possible for someone stricken with a serious and ultimately fatal illness to choose to die peacefully with medical help, rather than suffer."[66] Pratchett was selected to give the 2010 BBCRichard Dimbleby Lecture,[67] entitled Shaking Hands With Death, broadcast on 1 February 2010.[68] Pratchett introduced his lecture on the topic of assisted death, but the main text was read by his friend Tony Robinson because Pratchett's condition made it difficult for him to read.[69][70][71] In June 2011 Pratchett presented a one-off BBC television documentary, Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die, about assisted suicide. It won the Best Documentary award at the Scottish BAFTAs in November 2011.[72]

In September 2012 Pratchett stated: "I have to tell you that I thought I'd be a lot worse than this by now, and so did my specialist." In the same interview, he stated that the cognitive part of his mind was "untouched" and his symptoms were physical (normal for PCA).[73] However, in July 2014 he cancelled his appearance at the biennial International Discworld Convention, saying: "the Embuggerance is finally catching up with me, along with other age-related ailments".[74]


Pratchett died at his home on the morning of 12 March 2015 from Alzheimer's, according to his publisher.[75]The Telegraph reported an unidentified source as saying that despite his previous discussion of assisted suicide, his death had been natural.[76] After Pratchett's death, his assistant, Rob Wilkins, wrote from the official Terry Pratchett Twitter account:


Terry took Death's arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.

The End.[77]

The use of small capitals is a reference to how the character of Death speaks in Pratchett's works.[77]

Many public figures paid tribute following Pratchett's death, including British Prime Minister David Cameron and the comedian Ricky Gervais,[78] and authors including Nick Harkaway,[79]Ursula K. Le Guin, Terry Brooks, Margaret Atwood, George R. R. Martin, and Neil Gaiman.[80][81] Pratchett was memorialised in a graffito in East London,[82] and the video game company Frontier Developments added a space station to Elite: Dangerous named "Pratchett's Disc".[83] Developers of Dota 2, Valve Corporation, added an item to their game called "Octarine Core", in reference to Pratchett's novel The Colour of Magic.[84] Users of the social news site Reddit organised a tribute by which an HTTP header, "",[85] is added to a site's responses, a reference to the Discworld novel Going Postal.[86] In their June 2015 Web Server survey,[87] Netcraft reported that approximately 84,000 websites had been configured with the header. This included the Guardian newspaper website, which, using their estimated page views, Netcraft estimated that the addition would cause terabytes of additional bandwidth per day.

Pratchett's humanist funeral service was held on 25 March 2015.[88]


Computers and the Internet[edit]

Pratchett started to use computers for writing as soon as they were available to him. His first computer was a Sinclair ZX81; the first computer he used properly for writing was an Amstrad CPC 464, later replaced by a PC. Pratchett was one of the first authors routinely to use the Internet to communicate with fans, and was a contributor to the Usenet newsgroup from 1992.[89] However, he did not consider the Internet a hobby, just another "thing to use".[31] He had many computers in his house,[31] with a bank of six monitors rigged up to ease writing.[90][91] When he travelled, he always took a portable computer with him to write.[31]

His experiments with computer upgrades are reflected in Hex.[92]

Pratchett was also an avid video game player, and collaborated in the creation of a number of game adaptations of his books. He favoured games that are "intelligent and have some depth", citing Half-Life 2 and fan missions from Thief as examples.[93] Additionally, he played Oblivion, which he described as "wonderful", and used many of its non-combat-oriented, fan-made mods.[94] He is also said to have enjoyed playing the first Tomb Raider game.[95]

Natural history[edit]

Pratchett had a fascination with natural history that he referred to many times, and he owned a greenhouse full of carnivorous plants.[96]

In 1995, a fossilsea-turtle from the Eocene epoch of New Zealand was named in honour of him Psephophorus terrypratchetti by the palaeontologist Richard Köhler.[97]

In 2016, Pratchett fans petitioned the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) to name chemical element 117, temporarily calledununseptium, as octarine with the proposed symbol Oc (pronounced "ook").[98] The final name chosen for element 117 was tennessine with the symbol Ts.[99]


Pratchett was a trustee for the Orangutan Foundation UK[100] but was pessimistic about the animal's future.[41] His activities included visiting Borneo with a Channel 4 film crew to make an episode of "Jungle Quest" in 1995, seeing orangutans in their natural habitat.[101] Following Pratchett's lead, fan events such as the Discworld Conventions have adopted the Orangutan Foundation as their nominated charity, which has been acknowledged by the foundation.[102] One of Pratchett's most popular fictional characters, the Librarian of the Unseen University's Library, is a wizard who was transformed into an orangutan in a magical accident and decides to remain in that condition as it is so convenient for his work.

Amateur astronomy[edit]

Pratchett had an observatory in his back garden and was a keen astronomer from childhood. He made an appearance on the BBC programme The Sky at Night.[103]

Terry Pratchett First Novel Award[edit]

Pratchett sponsored a biennial award for unpublished science fiction novelists, the Terry Pratchett First Novel Award. The prize is a publishing contract with his publishers Transworld.[104] In 2011 the award was won jointly by David Logan for Half Sick of Shadows and Michael Logan for Apocalypse Cow.[105] In 2013 the award was won by Alexander Maskill for The Hive.[106]

Sir Terry Pratchett Memorial Scholarship[edit]

In 2015, the estate of the late Sir Terry Pratchett announced an in-perpetuity endowment to the University of South Australia.[107] The Sir Terry Pratchett Memorial Scholarship supports a Masters scholarship at the University's Hawke Research Institute.[108]

Writing career[edit]


Pratchett received a knighthood for "services to literature" in the 2009 UK New Year Honours list.[8][109] He was previously appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire, also for "services to literature", in 1998. Following this, Pratchett commented in the Ansible SF/fan newsletter, "I suspect the 'services to literature' consisted of refraining from trying to write any," but added, "Still, I cannot help feeling mightily chuffed about it."[110]

Pratchett was the British Book Awards' 'Fantasy and Science Fiction Author of the Year' for 1994.[111]

Pratchett won the British Science Fiction Award in 1989 for his novel, Pyramids,[112] and a Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel in 2008 for Making Money.[113]

Pratchett was awarded ten honorary doctorates: University of Warwick in 1999,[114] the University of Portsmouth in 2001,[115] the University of Bath in 2003,[116] the University of Bristol in 2004,[117]Buckinghamshire New University in 2008,[118] the University of Dublin in 2008,[119]Bradford University in 2009,[120]University of Winchester in 2009,[121] The Open University in 2013[122] for his contribution to Public Service and his last, from the University of South Australia, in May 2014.[123]

Pratchett won the 2001 Carnegie Medal from the British librarians, recognising The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents as the year's best children's book published in the UK.[10][11]

Night Watch won the 2003 Prometheus Award for best libertarian novel.[124]

In 2003, BBC conducted The Big Read to identify the "Nation's Best-loved Novel" and finally published a ranked list of the "Top 200". Pratchett's highest-ranking novel was Mort, number 65, but he and Charles Dickens were the only authors with five in the Top 100 (four of his were from the Discworld series). He also led all authors with fifteen novels in the Top 200.[125]

Three of the five Discworld novels that centre on the "trainee witch" Tiffany Aching won the annual Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book in 2004, 2005 and 2007.[126]

In 2005, Going Postal was shortlisted for the Hugo Award for Best Novel; however, Pratchett recused himself, stating that stress over the award would mar his enjoyment of Worldcon.[127][128]

Pratchett received the NESFASkylark Award in 2009[129] and the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 2010.[130] In 2011 he won Margaret A. Edwards Award from the American Library Association, a lifetime honour for "significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature".[131][132] The librarians cited nine Discworld novels published from 1983 to 2004 and observed that "Pratchett's tales of Discworld have won over generations of teen readers with intelligence, heart, and undeniable wit. Comic adventures that fondly mock the fantasy genre, the Discworld novels expose the hypocrisies of contemporary society in an intricate, ever-expanding universe. With satisfyingly multilayered plots, Pratchett's humor honors the intelligence of the reader. Teens eagerly lose themselves in a universe with no maps."[131]

He was made an adjunct Professor in the School of English at Trinity College Dublin in 2010, with a role in postgraduate education in creative writing and popular literature.[133]

I Shall Wear Midnight[134] won the 2010 Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy presented by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) as a part of the Nebula Award ceremony. In 2016, SFWA announced that Sir Terry would be the recipient of the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award, presented at the 2016 SFWA Nebula Conference.[135]


Pratchett's Discworld novels have led to dedicated conventions, the first in Manchester in 1996,[136] then worldwide,[137] often with the author as guest of honour.[138] Publication of a new novel was sometimes accompanied by an international book signing tour;[139] queues were known to stretch outside the bookshop as the author continued to sign books well after the intended finishing time.[136] His fans were not restricted by age or gender, and he received a large amount of fan mail from them.[136] Pratchett enjoyed meeting fans and hearing what they think about his books, saying that since he was well paid for his novels, his fans were "everything" to him.[140]


Pratchett said that to write, you must read extensively, both inside and outside your chosen genre[141] and to the point of "overflow".[31] He advised that writing is hard work, and that writers must "make grammar, punctuation and spelling a part of your life."[31] However, Pratchett enjoyed writing, regarding its monetary rewards as "an unavoidable consequence", rather than the reason for writing.[142]

Fantasy genre[edit]

Although during his early career he wrote for the sci-fi and horror genres, Pratchett later focused almost entirely on fantasy, and said: "It is easier to bend the universe around the story."[143] In the acceptance speech for his Carnegie Medal he said: "Fantasy isn't just about wizards and silly wands. It's about seeing the world from new directions", pointing to J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels and J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. In the same speech, he acknowledged benefits of these works for the genre.[144]

Pratchett believed he owed "a debt to the science fiction/fantasy genre which he grew up out of" and disliked the term "magical realism" which, he said, is "like a polite way of saying you write fantasy and is more acceptable to certain people ... who, on the whole, do not care that much."[145] He expressed annoyance that fantasy is "unregarded as a literary form", arguing that it "is the oldest form of fiction";[140] he described himself as "infuriated" when novels containing science fiction or fantasy ideas were not regarded as part of those genres.[141] He debated this issue with novelist A. S. Byatt and critic Terry Eagleton, arguing that fantasy is fundamental to the way we understand the world and therefore an integral aspect of all fiction.[146]

On 31 July 2005, Pratchett criticised media coverage of Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling, commenting that certain members of the media seemed to think that "the continued elevation of J. K. Rowling can be achieved only at the expense of other writers".[147] Pratchett later denied claims that this was a swipe at Rowling, and said that he was not making claims of plagiarism, but was pointing out the "shared heritage" of the fantasy genre.[148] Pratchett also posted on the Harry Potternewsgroup about a media-covered exchange of views with her.[149]

Style and themes[edit]

Pratchett is known for a distinctive writing style that included a number of characteristic hallmarks. One example is his use of footnotes,[150] which usually involve a comic departure from the narrative or a commentary on the narrative, and occasionally have footnotes of their own.[151]

Pratchett's earliest Discworld novels were written largely to parody classic sword-and-sorcery fiction (and occasionally science-fiction); as the series progressed, Pratchett dispensed with parody almost entirely, and the Discworld series evolved into straightforward (though still comedic) satire.[citation needed]

Pratchett had a tendency to avoid using chapters, arguing in a Book Sense interview that "life does not happen in regular chapters, nor do movies, and Homer did not write in chapters", adding "I'm blessed if I know what function they serve in books for adults."[152] However, there have been exceptions; Going Postal and Making Money and several of his books for younger readers are divided into chapters.[153] Pratchett offered explanations for his sporadic use of chapters; in the young adult titles, he said that he must use chapters because '[his] editor screams until [he] does', but otherwise felt that they were an unnecessary 'stopping point' that got in the way of the narrative.

Characters, place names, and titles in Pratchett's books often contain puns, allusions and culture references.[154][155] Some characters are parodies of well-known characters: for example, Pratchett's character Cohen the Barbarian, also called Ghengiz Cohen, is a parody of Conan the Barbarian and Genghis Khan, and his character Leonard of Quirm is a parody of Leonardo da Vinci.

Another hallmark of his writing was the use of capitalised dialogue without quotation marks, used to indicate the character of Death communicating telepathically into a character's mind. Other characters or types of characters were given similarly distinctive ways of speaking, such as the auditors of reality never having quotation marks, Ankh-Morpork grocers never using punctuation correctly, and golems capitalising each word in everything they say. Pratchett also made up a new colour, octarine, a 'fluorescent greenish-yellow-purple', which is the eighth colour in the Discworld spectrum—the colour of magic.[156] Indeed, the number eight itself is regarded in the Discworld as being a magical number; for example, the eighth son of an eighth son will be a wizard, and his eighth son will be a "sourcerer", extremely powerful users of magic with abilities far beyond what most wizards usually achieve (which is one reason why wizards are not allowed to have children).[157]

Discworld novels often included a modern innovation and its introduction to the world's medieval setting, such as a public police force (Guards! Guards!), guns (Men at Arms), submarines (Jingo), cinema (Moving Pictures), investigative journalism (The Truth), the postage stamp (Going Postal), modern banking (Making Money), and the steam engine (Raising Steam). The "clacks", the tower-to-tower semaphore system that sprang up in later novels, is a mechanical optical telegraph (as created by the Chappe brothers and employed during the French revolution) before wired electric telegraph chains, with all the change and turmoil that such an advancement implies. The resulting social upheaval driven by these changes serves as the setting for the main story.


Pratchett made no secret of outside influences on his work: they were a major source of his humour. He imported numerous characters from classic literature, popular culture and ancient history,[158] always adding an unexpected twist. Pratchett was a crime novel fan, which was reflected in frequent appearances of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch in the Discworld series.[143] Pratchett was an only child, and his characters are often without siblings. Pratchett explained, "In fiction, only-children are the interesting ones".[159]

Pratchett's earliest inspirations were The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, and the works of Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke.[6] His literary influences have been P.G. Wodehouse, Tom Sharpe, Jerome K. Jerome, Roy Lewis,[160]Alan Coren,[161]G. K. Chesterton, and Mark Twain.[162]

Publishing history[edit]

While Pratchett's UK publishing history remained quite stable, his relationships with international publishers were turbulent (especially in America). He changed German publishers after an advertisement for Maggi soup appeared in the middle of the German-language version of Pyramids.[163][164]


The Discworld series[edit]

Main article: Discworld

Pratchett began writing the Discworld series in 1983 to "have fun with some of the cliches"[24] and it is a humorous and often satirical sequence of stories set in the colourful fantasy Discworld universe. The series contains various story arcs (or sub-series), and a number of free-standing stories. All are set in an abundance of locations in the same detailed and unified world, such as the Unseen University and 'The Drum/Broken Drum/Mended Drum' public house in the twin city Ankh-Morpork, or places in the various continents, regions and countries on the Disc. Characters and locations reappear throughout the series, variously taking major and minor roles.

The Discworld itself is described as a large disc resting on the backs of four giant elephants, all supported by the giant turtle Great A'Tuin as it swims its way through space. The books are essentially in chronological order,[153] and advancements can be seen in the development of the Discworld civilisations, such as the creation of paper money in Ankh-Morpork.[152]

Many of the novels in Pratchett's Discworld series parody real-world subjects such as film making, newspaper publishing, rock and roll music, religion, philosophy, Ancient Greece, Egyptian history, the Gulf War, Australia, university politics, trade unions, and the financial world. Pratchett also included further parody as a feature within the stories, including such subjects as Ingmar Bergman films, numerous fiction, science fiction, and fantasy characters, and various bureaucratic and ruling systems.

Other Discworld books[edit]

Pratchett wrote or collaborated on a number of Discworld books that are not novels in themselves but serve to accompany the series.

The Discworld Companion, written with Stephen Briggs, is an encyclopaedic guide to Discworld. The third edition was renamed The New Discworld Companion, and was published in 2003. The fourth and most recent edition of the companion, Turtle Recall[165] was published on 18 October 2012. Briggs also collaborated with Pratchett on a series of fictional Discworld "mapps". The first, The Discworld Mapp (1995), illustrated by Stephen Player, comprises a large, comprehensive map of the Discworld itself with a small booklet that contains short biographies of the Disc's prominent explorers and their discoveries. Three further "mapps", have been released, focusing on particular regions of the Disc: Ankh-Morpork, Lancre, and Death's Domain.

Between 1997 and 2015, ten Discworld Diaries were published as collaborations with Briggs or the Discword Emporium. Pratchett and Tina Hannan collaborated on Nanny Ogg's Cookbook (1999). The design of this cookbook, illustrated by Paul Kidby, was based on the traditional Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, but with humorous recipes. Pratchett and Bernard Pearson collaborated on The Discworld Almanak, for the Year of the Prawn, with illustration by Paul Kidby, Pearson and Sheila Watkins.

Collections of Discworld-related art have also been released in book form. The Pratchett Portfolio (1996) and The Art of Discworld (2004) are collections of paintings of major Discworld characters by Paul Kidby, with details added by Pratchett on the character's origins.

In 2005, Pratchett's first book for very young children was Where's My Cow? Illustrated by Melvyn Grant, this is a realisation of the short story Sam Vimes reads to his child in Thud!.

The Unseen University Cut Out Book was published in 2006 developed with Alan Bately and Bernard Pearson. The book contains cut-out templates of seven of the major buildings in the Unseen University.

Following on from the release of Sky's adaptation of Hogfather, Terry Pratchett's Hogfather, The Illustrated Screenplay was released in 2006. It was written by Vadim Jean and "mucked about with by Terry Pratchett". It contains the final shooting script, pictures from the film and additional illustrations by Stephen Player. It was published by Gollancz.

Pratchett and the Discworld Emporium published The Compleat Ankh-Morpork City Guide in 2012 which combined a trade directory, gazetteer, laws and ordinances together with a fully revised city map with artwork by Bernard Pearson, Ian Mitchell and Peter Dennis.

A number of publications have been released on the back of Pratchett's novels with the participation of the Discworld Emporium:

  • The World of Poo; a book by Miss Felicity Beedle who features in Snuff (2012)
  • Mrs Bradshaw's Handbook: an illustrated guide to Discworld railway (Raising Steam, 2014)

Pratchett resisted mapping the Discworld for quite some time, noting that a firmly designed map restricts narrative possibility (i.e., with a map, fans would complain if he placed a building on the wrong street, but without one, he could adjust the geography to fit the story).

The Science of Discworld[edit]

Pratchett wrote four Science of Discworld books in collaboration with Professor of mathematics Ian Stewart and reproductive biologist Jack Cohen, both of the University of Warwick: The Science of Discworld (1999), The Science of Discworld II: The Globe (2002), The Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch (2005), and The Science of Discworld IV: Judgement Day (2013).

All four books have chapters that alternate between fiction and non-fiction: the fictional chapters are set within the Discworld universe, where characters observe, and experiment on, a universe with the same physics as ours. The non-fiction chapters (written by Stewart and Cohen) explain the science behind the fictional events.

In 1999, Pratchett appointed both Cohen and Stewart as "Honorary Wizards of the Unseen University" at the same ceremony at which the University of Warwick awarded him an honorary degree.[114]

Folklore of Discworld[edit]

Pratchett collaborated with the folklorist Dr Jacqueline Simpson on The Folklore of Discworld (2008), a study of the relationship between many of the persons, places and events described in the Discworld books and their counterparts in myths, legends, fairy tales and folk customs on Earth.

Other novels and writing[edit

Pratchett drinking Guinness shortly after receiving an honorary degree from the University of Dublin in 2008

This article is about the novels. For the fictional world itself, see Discworld (world). For the MUD, see Discworld MUD. For the magazine on the Apple Macintosh, see Diskworld.

Discworld is a comicfantasybook series written by the English author Terry Pratchett (1948–2015), set on the fictional Discworld, a flat disc balanced on the backs of four elephants which in turn stand on the back of a giant turtle, Great A'Tuin. The books frequently parody or take inspiration from J. R. R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, H. P. Lovecraft, Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare, as well as mythology, folklore and fairy tales, often using them for satirical parallels with current cultural, political and scientific issues. The series is popular, with more than 80 million books sold in 37 languages.[1][2]

Forty-one Discworld novels have been published. After Pratchett was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, he said that he would be happy for his daughter Rhianna to continue the series when he could no longer do so.[3] However, Rhianna has stated she will only be involved in spin-offs, adaptations and tie-ins, and that there will be no more novels.[4] The original British editions of the first 26 novels, up to Thief of Time (2001), had distinctive cover art by Josh Kirby. The American editions, published by Harper Collins, used their own cover art. Since Kirby's death in October 2001, the covers have been designed by Paul Kidby. Companion publications include eleven short stories (some only loosely related to the Discworld), four popular science books, and a number of supplementary books and reference guides. In addition, the series has been adapted for graphic novels, theatre, computer and board games, and television.

Newly released Discworld books regularly topped The Sunday Times best-sellers list, making Pratchett the UK's best-selling author in the 1990s. Discworld novels have also won awards such as the Prometheus Award and the Carnegie Medal. In the BBC's Big Read, four Discworld novels were in the top 100, and a total of fourteen in the top 200.


Very few of the Discworld novels have chapter divisions. Instead they feature interweaving storylines. Pratchett was quoted as saying that he "just never got into the habit of chapters",[5] later adding that "I have to shove them in the putative YA books because my editor screams until I do".[6] However, the first Discworld novel The Colour of Magic was divided into "books", as is Pyramids. Additionally, Going Postal and Making Money both have chapters, a prologue, an epilogue, and brief teasers of what is to come in each chapter, in the style of A. A. Milne, Jules Verne, and Jerome K. Jerome.

Themes and motifs[edit]

The Discworld novels contain common themes and motifs that run through the series. Fantasy clichés are parodied in many of the novels, as are various subgenres of fantasy, such as fairy tales (notably Witches Abroad), witch and vampire stories (Carpe Jugulum) and so on. Analogies of real-world issues, such as religion (Small Gods), business and politics (Making Money), are recurring themes, as are music genres such as opera (Maskerade) or rock music (Soul Music). Parodies of non-Discworld fiction also occur frequently, including Shakespeare, Beatrix Potter, and several movies. Major historical events, especially battles, are sometimes used as the basis for both trivial and key events in Discworld stories (Jingo, Pyramids), as are trends in science, technology, and pop culture (Moving Pictures, Men at Arms). There are also humanist themes in many of the Discworld novels, and a focus on critical thinking skills in the Witches and Tiffany Aching series.


Discworld stories stand alone as independent works set in the same fantasy universe. However, a number of novels and stories can be grouped together into grand story arcs dealing with a set number of characters and events, and some books refer to earlier (or later) events. The main threads within the Discworld series are:


Main article: Rincewind

Rincewind was the first protagonist of Discworld; a wizard with no skill, no wizardly qualifications, and no interest in heroics. He is the archetypal coward but is constantly thrust into extremely dangerous adventures. In The Last Hero, he flatly states that he does not wish to join an expedition to explore over the edge of the Disc—but, being fully geared for the expedition at the time, clarifies by saying that any amount of protesting on his part is futile, as something will eventually occur that will bring him into the expedition anyway. As such, he not only constantly succeeds in staying alive, but also saves Discworld on several occasions, and has an instrumental role in the emergence of life on Roundworld (Science of Discworld).

Other characters in the Rincewind story arc include: Cohen the Barbarian, an aging hero of the old fantasy tradition, out of touch with the modern world and still fighting despite his advanced age; Twoflower, a naive tourist from the Agatean Empire (inspired by cultures of the Far East, particularly Japan and China); and The Luggage, a magical, semi-sentient and exceptionally vicious multi-legged travelling accessory, made from sapient pearwood. Rincewind appeared in eight Discworld novels as well as the four Science of Discworld supplementary books.


Main articles: Death (Discworld) and Susan Sto Helit

Death appears in every novel except The Wee Free Men and Snuff, although sometimes with only a few lines. As dictated by tradition, he is a seven-foot-tall skeleton in a black robe who sits astride a pale horse (called Binky). His dialogue is always depicted in small caps, and without quotation marks, as several characters state that Death's voice seems to arrive in their heads without actually passing through their ears as sound.

As the anthropomorphic personification of death, Death has the job of guiding souls onward from this world into the next. Over millennia in the role, he has developed a fascination with humanity, even going so far as to create a house for himself in his personal dimension.

Characters that often appear with Death include his butler Albert; his granddaughter Susan Sto Helit; the Death of Rats, the part of Death in charge of gathering the souls of rodents; Quoth, a talking raven (a parody of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven", although it flat-out refuses to say "Nevermore"); and the Auditors of Reality, personifications of the orderly physical laws and the closest thing Death has to a nemesis. Death or Susan appear as the main characters in five Discworld novels. He also appears in the short stories Death and What Comes Next, Theatre of Cruelty and Turntables of the Night.

Death also appears in the non-Discworld novel Good Omens, written by Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.


Main article: Witches (Discworld)

Witches in Pratchett's universe are largely stripped of their modern occultist associations (though Pratchett does frequently use his stories to lampoon such conceptions of witchcraft), and act as herbalists, adjudicators and wise women. That is not to say that witches on the Disc cannot use magic; they simply prefer not to, finding simple but cunningly applied psychology (often referred to as "headology", or sometimes "boffo") far more effective.

The principal witch in the series is Granny Weatherwax, who at first glance seems to be a taciturn, bitter old crone, from the small mountain country of Lancre. She largely despises people but takes on the role of their healer and protector because no one else can do the job as well as she can. Her closest friend is Nanny Ogg, a jolly, personable witch with the "common touch" who enjoys a smoke and a pint of beer, often leading to her singing bawdy folk songs including the notorious "Hedgehog Song". The two take on apprentice witches, initially Magrat Garlick, then Agnes Nitt, and then Tiffany Aching, who in turn go on to become accomplished witches in their own right, and, in Magrat's case, Queen of Lancre.

Other characters in the Witches series include: King Verence II of Lancre, a onetime Fool; Jason Ogg, Nanny Ogg's eldest son and local blacksmith; Shawn Ogg, Nanny's youngest son who serves as his country's entire army and civil service; and Nanny's murderous cat Greebo. The witches have appeared in numerous Discworld books, but have featured as protagonists in seven. They have also appeared in the short story "The Sea and Little Fishes". Their stories frequently draw on ancient European folklore and fairy tales, as well as parody famous works of literature, particularly by Shakespeare.

City Watch[edit]

Main article: Ankh-Morpork City Watch

The stories featuring the Ankh-Morpork City Watch are urban-set, and frequently show the clashes that result when a traditional, magically run fantasy world such as the Disc comes into contact with modern technology and civilization. They revolve around the growth of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch from a hopeless gang of three to a fully equipped and efficient police force. The stories are largely police procedurals, featuring crimes that have heavy political or societal overtones.

The main character is Sam Vimes, a haggard, cynical, working-class street copper who, when introduced in Guards! Guards!, is the drunken/alcoholic Captain of the 2-person Night Watch: lazy, cowardly, and none-too-bright Sergeant Fred Colon, and Corporal Nobby Nobbs, a petty thief in his own right. Then Carrot Ironfoundersson, a 6-foot-6-inch-tall (1.98 m) dwarf-by-adoption, comes down from the mountains to join the Watch and do real policing. The Night Watch manages to save the city from a dragon, we learn that Carrot is possibly the rightful heir to the throne of Ankh-Morpork, and the Patrician decides to allow Vimes to create a real police force.

Other main characters include Angua, a werewolf; Detritus, a troll; Reg Shoe, a zombie and Dead Rights campaigner; Cuddy, a Dwarf who appears in Men at Arms; Golem Constable Dorfl; Cheery Littlebottom, the Watch's forensics expert, who is one of the first dwarves to be openly female (and who tried to rename herself "Cheri", but without success); Sam's wife, Lady Sybil Vimes (née Ramkin); Constable Visit-the-infidel-with-explanatory-pamphlets, and Havelock Vetinari, the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork. The City Watch have starred in eight Discworld stories, and have cameoed in a number of others, including Making Money, the children's book Where's My Cow?, and the short story "Theatre of Cruelty".

Pratchett stated on numerous occasions that the presence of the City Watch makes Ankh-Morpork stories 'problematic', as stories set in the city that do not directly involve Vimes and the Watch often require a Watch presence to maintain the story—at which point, it becomes a Watch story by default.


Main article: Unseen University

The Wizards of the Unseen University (UU) have represented a strong thread through many of the Discworld novels, although the only books that they star in exclusively are The Science of the Discworld series and the novels Unseen Academicals and The Last Continent. In the early books, the faculty of UU changed frequently, as rising to the top usually involved assassination. However, with the ascension of the bombastic Mustrum Ridcully to the position of Archchancellor, the hierarchy has settled and characters have been given the chance to develop. The earlier books featuring the wizards also frequently dealt with the possible invasion of the Discworld by the creatures from the Dungeon Dimensions, Lovecraftian monsters that hunger for the magic and potential of the Discworld.

The wizards of UU employ the traditional "whizz-bang" type of magic seen in Dungeons & Dragons games, but also investigate the rules and structure of magic in terms highly reminiscent of particle physics. Prominent members include Ponder Stibbons, a geeky young wizard; Hex, the Disc's first computer/semi-sentient thinking engine; the Librarian, who was turned into an orangutan by magical accident; the Dean; the Bursar; the Chair of Indefinite Studies; the Lecturer in Recent Runes; and the Senior Wrangler. In later novels, Rincewind also joins their group, while the Dean leaves to become the Archchancellor of Brazeneck College in the nearby city of Pseudopolis.

The Wizards have featured prominently in nine Discworld books as well as starred in The Science of Discworld series and the short story "A Collegiate Casting-Out of Devilish Devices".

Tiffany Aching[edit]

Main article: Tiffany Aching

Tiffany Aching is a young apprentice witch and star of a series of Discworld books aimed at young adults. Her stories often parallel mythic heroes' quests, but also deal with Tiffany's difficulties as a young girl maturing into a responsible woman. She is aided in her task by the Nac Mac Feegle, a gang of blue-tattooed, 6-inch tall, hard-drinking, loud-mouthed pictsie creatures also called "The Wee Free Men" who serve as her guardians. Both Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg have also appeared in her stories. She has appeared in five novels (The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith, I Shall Wear Midnight, and The Shepherd's Crown). Major characters in this series include Miss Tick, who discovered Tiffany, Annagramma Hawkin, Petulia Gristle, and Nac Mac Feegle chieftain Rob Anybody.

Moist von Lipwig[edit]

Main article: Moist von Lipwig

Moist von Lipwig is a professional criminal and con man to whom Havelock Vetinari gives a "second chance" after staging his execution, recognising the advantages his jack-of-all-trades abilities would have to the development of the city. After setting him in charge of the Ankh-Morpork Post Office in Going Postal, to good result, Vetinari ordered him to clear up the city's corrupt financial sector in Making Money. A third book, Raising Steam published on 7 November 2013 features Lipwig's further exploits as a pioneer to the newly invented locomotive. Other characters in this series include Adora Belle Dearheart, Lipwig's acerbic, chain-smoking love interest; Gladys, a golem who develops a strange crush on Lipwig, Stanley Howler, an obsessive young man who was raised by peas and becomes the Disc's first stamp collector, and the very old Junior Postman Groat, who never got promoted to Senior Postman because there was never a Postmaster alive long enough to do so.

Discworld cultures[edit]

Several other books can be grouped together as "Other cultures of Discworld" books. They may contain characters or locations from other arcs, typically not as protagonist or antagonist but as a supporting character or even a throwaway reference. These include Pyramids (Djelibeybi), Small Gods (Omnia), and Monstrous Regiment (Zlobenia and Borogravia).


Short descriptions of many of the notable characters:



1The Colour of Magic1983Rincewind93rd in the Big Read.
2The Light Fantastic1986Continues from The Colour of Magic
3Equal Rites1987Witches
4MortDeath65th in the Big Read
6Wyrd SistersWitches135th in the Big Read
7Pyramids1989DjelibeybiBritish Science Fiction Award winner, 1989[7]
8Guards! Guards!City Watch69th in the Big Read
9Eric1990RincewindPublished in a larger format and fully illustrated by Josh Kirby
10Moving PicturesIndustrial Revolution
11Reaper Man1991Death126th in the Big Read
12Witches AbroadWitches197th in the Big Read
13Small Gods1992Omnia102nd in the Big Read
14Lords and LadiesWitches
15Men at Arms1993City Watch148th in the Big Read
16Soul Music1994Death151st in the Big Read
17Interesting TimesRincewind
19Feet of Clay1996City Watch
20HogfatherDeath137th in the Big Read; British Fantasy Award nominee, 1997[8]
21Jingo1997City Watch
22The Last Continent1998Rincewind
23Carpe JugulumWitches
24The Fifth Elephant1999City Watch153rd in the Big Read; Locus Fantasy Award nominee, 2000[9]
25The Truth2000Industrial Revolution193rd in the Big Read
26Thief of Time2001Death152nd in the Big Read; Locus Award nominee, 2002[10]
27The Last HeroRincewindPublished in a larger format and fully illustrated by Paul Kidby
28The Amazing Maurice and his Educated RodentsÜberwaldA YA (young adult or children's) Discworld book; winner of the 2001 Carnegie Medal
29Night Watch2002City WatchReceived the Prometheus Award in 2003; came 73rd in the Big Read; Locus Award nominee, 2003[11]
30The Wee Free Men2003Tiffany AchingThe second YA Discworld book; also published in larger format and fully illustrated by Stephen Player
31Monstrous RegimentIndustrial RevolutionThe title is a reference to The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstruous Regiment of Women;[12] 2004 nominee for Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel.[13]
32A Hat Full of Sky2004Tiffany AchingThe third YA Discworld book
33Going PostalMoist von LipwigLocus and Nebula Awards nominee, 2005[14]
34Thud!2005City WatchLocus Award nominee, 2006[15]
35Wintersmith2006Tiffany AchingThe fourth YA book.
36Making Money2007Moist von LipwigLocus Award winner, Nebula nominee, 2008[16]
37Unseen Academicals2009RincewindLocus Award Nominee, 2010
38I Shall Wear Midnight2010Tiffany AchingThe fifth YA book, Andre Norton winner, 2010[17]
39Snuff2011City WatchThird fastest selling book in first week of publication[18]
40Raising Steam2013Moist von Lipwig
41The Shepherd's Crown2015Tiffany AchingThe sixth YA book, Completed mid-2014 and published posthumously in 2015[19]

Short stories[edit]

There are also a number of short stories by Pratchett based in the Discworld, including published miscellanea such as the fictional game origins of Thud. All are available in the anthology A Blink of the Screen (2012) as well as in the following locations:

Seven of the short stories or short writings were also collected in a compilation of the majority of Pratchett's known short work named Once More* With Footnotes (2004).

Additionally, another short story "Turntables of the Night" (1989) is set in England but features Death as a character; it is available online and in both anthologies.


Although Terry Pratchett said, "There are no maps. You can't map a sense of humour,"[23] there are four "Mapps": The Streets of Ankh-Morpork (1993), The Discworld Mapp (1995), A Tourist Guide to Lancre (1998), and Death's Domain (1999). The first two were drawn by Stephen Player, based on plans by Pratchett and Stephen Briggs, the third is a collaboration between Briggs and Kidby, and the last is by Paul Kidby. All also contain booklets written by Pratchett and Briggs.

Twin cities[edit]

Several Discworld locations have been twinned with real world towns and cities. Wincanton, in Somerset, UK, for example is twinned with Ankh-Morpork, and the town is the first to name streets after their fictional equivalents.[24][25]

Science books[edit]

Pratchett also collaborated with Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen on four books, using the Discworld to illuminate popular science topics. Each book alternates chapters of a Discworld story and notes on real science related to it. The books are:

Quiz books[edit]

David Langford has compiled two Discworldquiz books:


Main article: Discworld Diary

Most years see the release of a Discworld Diary and Discworld Calendar, both usually following a particular theme.

The diaries feature background information about their themes. Some topics are later used in the series; the character of Miss Alice Band first appeared in the Assassins' Guild Yearbook, for example.[citation needed]

The Discworld Almanak – The Year of The Prawn has a similar format and general contents to the diaries.

Other books[edit]

Other Discworld publications include:

  • The Josh Kirby Discworld Portfolio (1993) A collection of Josh Kirby's artwork, published by Paper Tiger.
  • The Discworld Companion (1994) An encyclopaedia of Discworld information, compiled by Pratchett and Briggs. An updated version was released in 2003, titled The New Discworld Companion. A further updated version was released in 2012, titled Turtle Recall: The Discworld Companion . . . So Far.[26]
  • The Discworld Portfolio (1996) A collection of Paul Kidby's artwork, with notes by Pratchett.
  • Nanny Ogg's Cookbook (2002) A collection of Discworld recipes, combined with etiquette, language of flowers etc., written by Pratchett with Stephen Briggs and Tina Hannan.
  • The Art of Discworld (2004) Another collection of Paul Kidby's art.
  • The Discworld Almanak (2004) An almanac for the Discworld year, in the style of the Diaries and the Cookbook, written by Pratchett with Bernard Pearson.
  • Where's My Cow? (2005) A Discworld picture book referenced in Thud! and Wintersmith, written by Pratchett with illustrations by Melvyn Grant
  • The Unseen University Cut Out Book (2006) Build your own Unseen University, written by Pratchett with Alan Batley and Bernard Pearson, published 1 October 2006.
  • The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld (2007) A collection of quotations from the series.
  • The Folklore of Discworld (2008) A collaboration with British folklorist Jacqueline Simpson, discussing the myths and folklore used in Discworld.
  • The World of Poo (2012) Another in-universe children's book (similar to Where's My Cow), referenced in Snuff.
  • The Compleat Ankh-Morpork: City Guide[27] (2012) The complete guide to the city of Ankh-Morpork
  • Mrs Bradshaw's Handbook (2014)[28]
  • The Discworld Atlas (2015)[29]

Reading order[edit]

The books take place roughly in real time and the characters' ages change to reflect the passing of years. The meetings of various characters from different narrative threads (e.g., Ridcully and Granny Weatherwax in Lords and Ladies, Rincewind and Carrot in The Last Hero) indicate that all the main storylines take place around the same period of time (end of the Century of the Fruitbat, beginning of the Century of the Anchovy). The main exception is the stand-alone book Small Gods, which appears to take place at some point earlier than most of the other stories, though even this contains cameo appearances by Death and the Librarian.

Some main characters may make cameo appearances in other books where they are not the primary focus; for example, City Watch members Carrot Ironfoundersson and Angua appear briefly in Going Postal, Making Money, and Unseen Academicals (placing those books after Guards! Guards! and Men at Arms). A number of characters, such as members of staff of Unseen University and Lord Vetinari, appear prominently in many different storylines without having specific storylines of their own.


See also: Terry Pratchett Adaptations

Audio books[edit]

Most of Pratchett's novels have been released as audio cassette and CD audiobooks.


The Colour of Magic, The Light Fantastic,[32]Mort,[33] and Guards! Guards!,[34]Small Gods[35] have been adapted into graphic novels.

Film and television[edit]

Due in part to the complexity of the novels, Discworld has been difficult to adapt to film – Pratchett was fond of an anecdote of a producer attempting to pitch an adaptation of Mort in the early 1990s but was told to "lose the Death angle" by US backers.[36]

A list of adaptations include:

  • Cosgrove Hall produced 6x30 minute animated adaptations of two books for Channel 4 in 1996. These were made available on DVD and VHS in the US from Acorn Media, though they are now out of print. Both series are available on a DVD boxset in Region 2
  • Mort (2001): A fan movie adaptation of the eponymous novel by Orange Cow Production, 26 minutes.[37]
  • Lords and Ladies (2005): A fan movie adaptation of Lords and Ladies by Almost No Budget Films was completed in Germany.[38]
  • Terry Pratchett's Hogfather (2006): In the UK, Sky 1 commissioned a £6 million 'made for television' adaptation of Hogfather with David Jason playing the role of Albert. It was first broadcast in December 2006 and features Terry Pratchett in a brief cameo role as the Toymaker.[39][40]
  • Run Rincewind Run! (2007): A Snowgum Films original story created for Nullus Anxietas. Stars Troy Larkin as Rincewind, and features Terry Pratchett as himself.
  • Terry Pratchett's The Colour of Magic (2008; based on both The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic): David Jason played Rincewind. This adaptation aired in the UK over Easter 2008 and also features Terry Pratchett in a brief cameo role as an Astrozoologist.[41]
  • Terry Pratchett's Going Postal (airdate May 2010). It stars Richard Coyle, David Suchet, Charles Dance, Claire Foy, Steve Pemberton, Andrew Sachs and Tamsin Greig. Terry Pratchett appears in a cameo role as a postman.

Planned adaptations include:

  • Troll Bridge: Australian group Snowgum Films is working on animated film as of 2016.[42]
  • The Wee Free Men: In January 2006, it was announced that Sam Raimi would direct an adaptation of The Wee Free Men for Sony Pictures;[43][44] Terry Pratchett did not like the script.[45] On 1 November 2013, Rhianna Pratchett announced on Twitter that she was adapting The Wee Free Men into a feature-length film.[46] In 2016 Narrativia confirmed the film would be co-produced with The Jim Henson Company.[45][47]
  • The Watch: Pratchett's daughter, Rhianna, announced in August 2012 a new production company, Narrativia, and said it would produce a TV series based on the Ankh-Morpork City Watch.[48][49] The show has not been released as of 2018. BBC Studios is now developing the six-part series with writer Simon Allen working on scripts.[50]


There have been several BBC radio adaptations of Discworld stories, including:

  • Eric (1990), a 4-part dramatised adaptation began airing on BBC Radio 4 on 6 March 2013.[51]
  • Guards! Guards!, six 30-minutes episodes, first broadcast in 2008, narrated by Martin Jarvis[52]
  • Mort, four 30-minutes episodes, first broadcast in 2008, starring Anton Lesser and Geoffrey Whitehead[53]
  • Night Watch five 30-minutes episodes, first broadcast in 2008, starring Ben Onwukwe and Philip Jackson[54]
  • Small Gods, four 30-minutes episodes, first broadcast in 2008, starring Anton Lesser[55]
  • Wyrd Sisters, four 30-minutes episodes, first broadcast in 2008, starring Sheila Hancock, Lynda Baron and Deborah Berlin[56]


  • Stephen Briggs published stage adaptations of 18 Discworld novels. Most of them were first produced by the Studio Theatre Club in Abingdon, Oxfordshire. They include adaptations of The Truth, Maskerade, Mort, Wyrd Sisters and Guards! Guards![57][58]
  • Irana Brown directed her adaptation of Lords and Ladies, first performed in 1995 at the Winton Studio Theatre. Her adaptation was published in 2001 by Samuel French, and is still being performed as of 2016.[59][60]
  • A stage version of Eric, adapted by Scott Harrison and Lee Harris, was produced and performed by The Dreaming Theatre Company in July 2003 inside Clifford's Tower, the 700-year-old castle keep in York.[61][62] It was revived in 2004 in a tour of England,[63] along with Robert Rankin's The Antipope.
  • Small Gods was adapted for the stage by Ben Saunders and was performed in February 2011 at the Assembly Rooms Theatre, Durham by Ooook! Productions[64] and members of Durham Student Theatre. Ooook! Productions also adapted and staged[65] Terry Pratchett's Night Watch (February 2012), Thief of Time (February 2013; adapted by Tim Foster[66]), Lords and Ladies (February 2014, adapted by Irana Brown[67]), Monstrous Regiment (2015),[68] and Soul Music (February 2016; adapted by Imogen Eddleston).[69]
  • A stage version of Monstrous Regiment was produced by Lifeline Theatre in Chicago, Illinois in June, July, and August 2014 with an adaptation written by one of Lifeline's ensemble members, Chris Hainsworth.[70]
  • A stage musical version of Witches Abroad, adapted by Amy Atha-Nicholls, was performed at the 2016 International Discworld Convention.


Various other types of related merchandise have been produced by cottage industries with an interest in the books, including Stephen Briggs, Bernard Pearson, Bonsai Trading, Paul Kidby and Clarecraft.

Board games[edit]

  • The board gameThud (2002) was created by puzzle compiler Trevor Truran.
  • Guards! Guards! A Discworld Boardgame (2011) was created by designers Leonard Boyd & David Brashaw (Backspindle Games) and published by Z-Man Games. The first copies went on sale on 8 July 2011 at the North American Discworld Convention, exactly 20 years after Leonard had conceived the first draft in 1991. The box cover and 90 Discworld character cards were illustrated by Stephen Player.[71]
  • Discworld: Ankh-Morpork (2011) was designed by Martin Wallace and released by Treefrog Games in three different editions, each with different content and different game boards; the collectible editions also have different numbering system (the number 8 is replaced by 7a).[72] A follow-up game called The Witches, also by Wallace, was released by Treefrog in September 2013.[73]

Card game[edit]

Miniature figures[edit]

  • A selection of figures has been produced by Micro Art Studio.[74]

Musical releases[edit]

  • Dave Greenslade: Terry Pratchett's From the Discworld (1994; Virgin CDV 2738.7243 8 39512 2 2).[75]
  • Keith Hopwood: Soul Music — Terry Pratchett's Discworld, (1998; Proper Music Distribution / Pluto Music TH 030746), soundtrack to the animated adaptation of Soul Music.

Role-playing games[edit]

Pratchett co-authored with Phil Masters two role-playing game supplements for Discworld, utilising the GURPS system:

Video games[edit]

  • The Colour of Magic (Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64)
  • Discworld MUD (Internet)
  • Discworld (PC/DOS, Macintosh, PlayStation, Saturn)
  • Discworld II: Missing Presumed...!? (Discworld II: Mortality Bytes! in North America) (PC/Windows, PC/DOS, PlayStation, Saturn)
  • Discworld Noir (PC/Windows, PlayStation)
  • Discworld: The Colour of Magic (Mobile phone, 2006)
  • Version 3.6.0 of NetHack (multiple platforms), released in December 2015, contains many references to the Discworld novels in honour of Terry Pratchett, who was a fan of the game

See also[edit]


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