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Diana Wynne Jones - Author

About the 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.

She was extremely dyslexic, so when she told her parents she wanted to be a writer, they just laughed. However between ages of 12 and 14, the young writer completed two epic tales scrawled in a total of 20 copy books. This taught her from an early age the invaluable lesson of how to finish a book.

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 wrote both children's books and plays (mostly performed at the London Arts Theatre) and her first book was published in 1973. Since then she wrote over 40 books. Her enviably fertile mind allowed her to write prolifically, even when her three boys were small, and quite a handful! When writing, she was totally absorbed in the book and on one never-to-be forgotten occasion, her sons returned from school ravenous to find she had shoved a pair of muddy shoes in the oven for their tea! She said, 'I am an inspirational writer. I forget meals and write with ever-increasing speed.'

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."

Featured books by Diana Wynne Jones

Howl's Moving Castle

Howl's Moving Castle

9+ readers

Author: Diana Wynne Jones Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/11/2008

In the land of Ingary, where seven league boots and cloaks of invisibility do exist, Sophie Hatter catches the unwelcome attention of the Witch of the Waste and is put under a spell. Deciding she has nothing more to lose, she makes her way to the moving castle that hovers on the hills above Market Chipping. But the castle belongs to the dreaded Wizard Howl whose appetite, they say, is satisfied only by the souls of young girls...There she meets Michael, Howl's apprentice, and Calcifer the Fire Demon, with whom she agrees a pact. But Sophie isn't the only one under a curse - her entanglements with Calcifer, Howl, and Michael, and her quest to break her curse is both gripping - and howlingly funny!

ebook of the month

Other books by Diana Wynne Jones

Fire and Hemlock

Fire and Hemlock

Author: Diana Wynne Jones Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/06/2020

In the mind of a lonely, imaginative girl, who can tell where fiction ends and reality begins? An epic fantasy, spanning nine years... The fire and hemlock photograph above Polly's bed sparks memories in her that don't seem to exist any more. Halloween; nine years ago; she gatecrashed a funeral party at the big house and met Thomas Lynn for the first time. Despite the fact that he's an adult, they struck up an immediate friendship, and began making up stories together - stories in which Tom is a great hero, and Polly is his assistant. The trouble is, these scary adventures have a nasty habit of coming true... But what has happened in the years between? Why has Tom been erased from Polly's mind, and from the rest of the world as well? Gradually Polly uncovers the awful truth and, at Halloween nine years on, realises that Tom's soul is forfeit to demonic powers unless she can save him.

Dogsbody

Dogsbody

Author: Diana Wynne Jones Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/06/2020

A powerful being fights for his life within the body of a humble, earthbound puppy. Sirius, immortal Lord of the Dog Star and infamous for his quick temper, cannot believe it when he is falsely accused of murder and banished to Earth. There he is reborn into the body of a puppy and learns that he has the life-span of that creature to recover the missing murder weapon. If he fails, he will die. He is adopted by Kathleen, who has no idea that her beloved Leo' is anything more than an abandonded stray. She is a loving owner, but an unwanted guest in a family who mostly resent her presence. Sirius soon learns that he has enemies amongst the humans as well as amongst the unearthly beings who sentenced him. How on earth can he clear his name without his special powers?

Vile Visitors

Vile Visitors

Author: Diana Wynne Jones Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/06/2020

Two hilarious stories from the bestselling and well-loved author Diana Wynne Jones, about the worst visitors in the world coming to stay. In VILE VISITORS, we meet Angus Flint and Chair Person - the worst guests in the world. In Who Got Rid of Angus Flint? We meet a man so mean, he even insults the furniture! Despite the children's best pranks, he just won't leave. But when the furniture has had enough, it's time to rise up and get rid of this most vile of visitors... In CHAIR PERSON, that old armchair with the broken crystal ball spilled on it has been locked in the shed. But then the children find a mysterious visitor... Transformed into the most annoying visitor ever, they are desperate to get rid of him. But can they turn him back into a chair before he ruins them forever?

Deep Secret

Deep Secret

Author: Diana Wynne Jones Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/06/2020

A fantasy adventure about saving the universe one world at a time from Diana Wynne Jones. The companion novel to the bestselling The Merlin Conspiracy. Magids look after all worlds, steer them towards magic, and keep history happening. But Rupert Venables' mentor has just died, and as the junior magid on earth he has to find a replacement while also trying to find the lost heir of a collapsing empire, worlds away. Rupert interweaves the fate lines to get all the candidates together at a sci-fi fantasy convention, and havoc ensues as they all converge on a very strange hotel, where everything is always linked, the walls keep moving, people are trying to kill him, and nothing is as it seems...a magical, epic story from the Godmother of fantasy.

Power of Three

Power of Three

Author: Diana Wynne Jones Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/06/2020

This is the story of Ayna and Ceri, who both had Gifts, and of Gair, who thought he was ordinary. Gair spent his time gazing out onto the Moor and brooding. Ayna could answer questions about the future, Ceri could find things which were lost. Gair seems to have no Gift and knew he was a disappointment to his jovial, heroic father - who is Chief. Perhaps his feelings of not fitting in was what made him so curious about these other different sorts of beings who lived on the Moor - the Giants and the Dorig. Certainly it was because he believed he was ordinary that he did his best to become wise, and to learn as much as he could abou the three great Powers of Sun, Moon and Earth. And when the crisis came, Gair found the knowledge he had gained was to help save not only his own life but those of all his people.

Black Maria

Black Maria

Author: Diana Wynne Jones Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/06/2020

A magical classic novel from the Godmother of British fantasy, Diana Wynne Jones. On the surface, Great Aunt Maria seems like a harmless old lady. But when Mig and her family go to visit, they soon learn that Aunt Maria rules Cranbury-on-Sea with a rod of sweetness that's tougher than iron and deadlier than poison. Life revolves around women's tea parties, while grey-suited men behave like zombies and clone-like children fade into the background. Mig is convinced that Aunt Maria must be a witch, but who will believe her? Maybe the ghost who haunts the downstairs bedroom holds the key . . .?

sudden wild magic

sudden wild magic

Author: Diana Wynne Jones Format: eBook Release Date: 25/05/2018

Mnogie veka magi Arta - civilizacii iz parallel'noj vselennoj - grabili Zemlyu, voruya idei, tekhnologii i novacii, manipuliruya sobytiyami i provociruya opustoshitel'nye katastrofy. Nichego lichnogo - prosto akademicheskij interes i mnenie, chto uchit'sya luchshe na chuzhih oshibkah. No teper' pod ugrozoj samo sushchestvovanie Zemli, i protivostoyat' ehtomu sposobno tol'ko Kol'co - tajnoe obshchestvo ved'm i koldunov, posvyativshih sebya bor'be za interesy chelovechestva. Srazhat'sya s ortodoksal'noj, hanzheskoj i konservativnoj civilizaciej Arta oni namereny s pomoshch'yu psihologicheskih manipulyacij, igry na vnutrennih raznoglasiyah i... tem, chto lyudi nazyvayut lyubov'yu... Vpervye na russkom yazyke!

Fauler Zauber

Fauler Zauber

Author: Diana Wynne Jones Format: eBook Release Date: 03/04/2018

In ihrem humorvollen High-Fantasy-Roman erzahlt die preisgekronte britische Autorin Diana Wynne Jones, wie sich eine magische Welt als lukrative Geschaftsidee entpuppt. Ausnahmslos alle - die Zauberer, Soldaten, Bauern, Drachen und Elfen - haben die Nase voll von Mr. Chesneys "e;Pilgerfahrten"e;. Jahr fr Jahr fallen Touristengruppen aus der benachbarten Welt ein, um ein klassisches Fantasy-Abenteuer zu erleben - mit allem, was dazu gehrt: bsen Magierinnen, gefhrlichen Drachen und dem furchteinflenden Dunklen Frsten. Stets werden andere Bewohner des Reiches dazu auserwhlt, diese Rollen zu bernehmen. Aber dieses Jahr reicht es den Leuten. Mr. Chesney mag einen mchtigen Dmon an seiner Seite haben, doch ein Orakel wei Rat. Nun ist es an Zauberer Derk und seiner Familie aus Menschen und Greifen, den Verwstungen Einhalt zu gebieten und ihre Welt zu retten. "e;Niemand erzhlt so magische Geschichten wie Diana Wynne Jones."e; Neil Gaiman

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