Commemorating Terry Pratchett

The death yesterday of fantasy writer Terry Pratchett speedily made headline news. And no wonder: the Discworld he created (a flat world on the back of four elephants, themselves standing on the back of a giant turtle) captured the imagination of the world.The Carpet People: picture hand-coloured by Terry Pratchett.

Terry Pratchett wrote more than 70 novels, which were translated into at least 37 languages. Senate House Library, University of London, is privileged to hold the Colin Smythe Terry Pratchett Archive: a comprehensive collection of Pratchett’s works, including all available editions, reprints and translations of his novels, short stories and journal articles; texts of adaptations; audio and video recordings; journal articles featuring Pratchett; newsletters and fanzines; and press cuttings. Publicity material ranges from maps, diaries, and calendars to posters, jigsaws, bookplates, models, tee-shirts, badges, mugs, mouse mats, and cross-stitch kits.

Particularly noteworthy is a copy of the first edition of The Carpet People, with the full-page illustrations hand-coloured by Pratchett (Pratchett B.563); a presentation copy from Pratchett to Leslie Hayward, a Director of Colin Smythe Ltd. One of the accompanying items concerns a launch of The Carpet People at the furniture establishment Heal’s, complete with a menu in which the dishes have been named after characters in the novel. (The meal begins with ‘Stewed snarg with master mushroom’, namely carbonnade of beef with piped potatoes and grilled mushrooms.) But the salient feature of the collection is its sheer size and range. To take a random example, a catalogue search on the Discworld novel Sourcery brings up 68 items: several English editions of the book; two audio books; an annotated computer print-out; a mug and book set; and translations, printed independently or as part of omnibus editions, into Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish.

To commemorate the passing of Terry Pratchett, the Library has mounted a small display of items from the Colin Smythe Terry Pratchett Archive and showing its variety in the Senate Room ante-room on the first floor of Senate House. The display will run until 19 March 2015.

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