Best-selling fantasy author Sir Terry Pratchett has died at the age of 66.
Pratchett, creator of the much-loved Discworld series, passed away earlier today (March 12) “with his cat sleeping on his bed surrounded by his family”, his publishing company Transworld confirmed in a statement to the press. The author, who disclosed in 2007 that he was suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, died of natural causes, from a chest infection combined with the worsening effects of his dementia.
Larry Finlay, managing director of Transworld Publishers, said in the statement: “I was deeply saddened to learn that Sir Terry Pratchett has died. 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 satirise 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,” Finlay added. “Over the last few years, it was his writing that sustained him. His legacy will endure for decades to come.”
Buckinghamshire-born Pratchett began his career as a journalist before becoming a Press Officer for the Central Electricity Generating Board in the 1960s. His first novel, The Carpet People, was published in 1971 but he made his name with the enormously popular Discworld series, whose first instalment, The Colour Of Magic, was published in 1983.
Pratchett completed his 41st and final Discworld novel, The The Shepherd’s Crown, last summer (2014) and it is due to be published this autumn (2015). He is responsible for over 85 million book sales worldwide and was named the UK’s best-selling author of the 1990s.
Following his diagnosis with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, Pratchett presented a BAFTA-winning two-part BBC documentary about the disease and later met with then Prime Minister Gordon Brown to lobby for greater funding for dementia research. Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, said of the late author: “Never dwelling on his own dementia, he used his voice to shout out for others when they could not.”
Sad to hear of Sir Terry Pratchett’s death, his books fired the imagination of millions and he fearlessly campaigned for dementia awareness.
— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) March 12, 2015
Pratchett is survived by his wife Lyn, whom he married in 1968, and their daughter Rhianna, a video games writer.