Diana Wynne Jones - Author Picture

Diana Wynne Jones - Author

Reknowned children's science fiction and fantasy writer Diana Wynne Jones died in March 2011. Click here to read about the life of this author in The Guardian obituary.

Diana was born in August 1934 in London, where she had a chaotic and unsettled childhood against the background of World War II. The family moved around a lot, finally settling in rural Essex. As children, Diana and her two sisters were deprived of a good, steady supply of books by a father, 'who could beat Scrooge in a meanness contest'. So, armed with a vivid imagination and an insatiable quest for good books to read, she decided that she would have to write them herself.

Her higher education began in 1953 when she went up to St Anne's College Oxford, and attended lectures by CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien. It was here she met her husband, John A Burrow, Professor of English at Bristol University. They married in 1956 and had three sons.

Diana Wynne Jones first conjured up the enigmatic and embroidered dressing-gowned enchanter Chrestomanci in 1977. The adventures in his magical worlds – for, as every budding sorcerer knows there are many series of parallel worlds – continue to enthral readers all over the world.

'Charmed Life', the first book in the Chrestomanci series, won the 1977 Guardian Award for Children's Books. Diana was runner-up for the Children's Book Award in 1981, and was twice runner-up for the Carnegie Medal. In 1999, she won two major fantasy awards: the children's section of the Mythopeic Award in the USA, and the Karl Edward Wagner Award in the UK – which is awarded by the British Fantasy Society to individuals or organisations who have made a significant impact on fantasy. JK Rowling was runner-up on both occasions. Diana was also shortlisted for The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, which rewards the best in contemporary children's and young adult literature from all over the world, in 2010.

Meeting Diana you wouldn't be surprised to find she had second sight (though she hadn't as far as I know). You'd think it quite natural that she should be a writer of fantasy, a connoisseur of witchcraft, a creator of parallel worlds. For her, magic wasn't something that floats about unrooted in human nature. 'Things we are accustomed to regard as myth or fairy story are very much present in people's lives.' She said, 'Nice people behave like wicked stepmothers. Every day.'

Diana on her writing:

"I think I write the kind of books I do because the world suddenly went mad when I was five years old. In late August 1939, on a blistering hot day, my father loaded me and my three-year-old sister, Isobel, into a friend’s car and drove to my grandparents’ manse in Wales.

" 'There’s going to be a war,' he explained. He went straight back to London, where my mother was expecting her third baby any day. We were left in the austere company of Mam and Dad (as we were told to call them). Dad, who was a moderator of the Welsh Nonconformist Chapels, was a stately patriarch; Mam was a small browbeaten lady who seemed to us to have no character at all. We were told that she was famous in her youth for her copper hair, her wit, and her beauty, but we saw no sign of any of this."

If you like Diana Wynne Jones you might also like to read books by J K Rowling.

Featured Books, with extracts, by Diana Wynne Jones

Earwig and the Witch
Diana Wynne Jones
With terrific line drawings that perfectly complement Diana's witty, magical story, this is a wonderful adventure of triumph over adversity. Poor Earwig has always lived in an orphanage but she loves it there and doesn't want to leave so one...
Lovereading Price: £4.79 - Saving £1.20 (20%) Featured in: 7+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 01/10/2011
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Earwig and the Witch
Diana Wynne Jones
With terrific line drawings that perfectly complement Diana's witty, magical story, this is a wonderful adventure of triumph over adversity. Poor Earwig has always lived in an orphanage but she loves it there and doesn't want to leave so one...
Lovereading Price: £5.59 - Saving £1.40 (20%) Featured in: 7+ readers
Format: Hardback | Released 09/06/2011
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Howl's Moving Castle
Diana Wynne Jones
A new look for one of Diana Wynne Jones' funniest and most popular novels.
Lovereading Price: £5.59 - Saving £1.40 (20%) Featured in: 9+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 29/11/2008
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Pinhoe Egg
Diana Wynne Jones
Diana Wynne Jones has an innate ability to ensure that when you read any of her nvels the storylines are very original, completely unpredictable and nearly always full of wit and humour. Pinhoe's Egg is no exception to this and...
Lovereading Price: £5.59 - Saving £1.40 (20%) Featured in: 11+ readers
Format: Paperback (b Format) | Released 02/04/2007
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Charmed Life
Diana Wynne Jones
The Chrestomanci series, of which Charmed Life is the first, provides a wonderful first step to the world of magical fantasy. Written by one of THE pre-eminent English fantasy writers, Diane Wynne Jones back in 1977, it remains original, enchanting...
Lovereading Price: £5.59 - Saving £1.40 (20%) Featured in: 9+ readers | 7+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 06/03/2006
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The Ogre Downstairs
Diana Wynne Jones
Jonathan Stroud, November 2010 Guest Editor, celebrates a favourite children's author: "A generation before the arrival of a certain boy wizard, Diana Wynne Jones had already perfected the art of comic fantasies: stories in which ordinary children must contend with...
Lovereading Price: £5.59 - Saving £1.40 (20%) Featured in: 7+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 01/12/2003
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