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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

Earwig and the Witch

Earwig and the Witch

Author: Diana Wynne Jones Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 16/03/2021

Now a major motion picture from Studio Ghibli. 'Deliciously entertaining.' - Guardian A magical story for young readers from the author of Howl's Moving Castle and Charmed Life, Diana Wynne Jones. Earwig was left at St Morwald's Home for Children as a baby. Unlike the other orphans, she loves it there - mostly because she has the run of the place and seems to have a surprising ability to persuade people to do as she wants... So the last thing Earwig wants is to be sent to live with the very strange Bella Yaga. Her new 'mother' is actually a wicked witch, and Earwig will need all her ingenuity and talent (and some help from a talking cat) if she is to survive...

House of Many Ways

House of Many Ways

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

A chaotically magical sequel to Howl's Moving Castle. Charmain Baker is in over her head. Looking after Great Uncle William's tiny cottage while he's ill should have been easy, but Great Uncle William is better known as the Royal Wizard Norland an his house bends space and time. Its single door leads to any number of places - the bedrooms, the kitchen, the caves under the mountains, the past, to name but a few. By opening that door, Charmain is now also looking after an extremely magical stray dog, a muddled young apprentice wizard and a box of the king's most treasured documents, as well as irritating a clan of small blue creatures. Caught up in an intense royal search, she encounters an intimidating sorceress named Sophie. And where Sophie is, can the Wizard Howl and fire demon Calcifer be far behind?

Castle in the Air

Castle in the Air

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

A magical Arabian Nights tale from the captivating creator of fantasy, Diana Wynne Jones. The dazzling sequel to Howl's Moving Castle. Far to the south in the Land of Ingary, lives a young carpet merchant called Abdullah. In his dreams, he is the long-lost son of a great prince. This dream is a complete castle in the air... or is it? Abdullah's day-dreams suddenly start to come true when he meets the exquisite Flower-in-the-Night, daughter of the ferocious Sultan of Zanzib. Fate has destined them for each other, but a bad-tempered genie, a hideous djinn, and various villanous bandits have their own ideas. When Flower-in-the-Night is carried off, Abdullah is determined to rescue her - if he can find her.

sudden wild magic

sudden wild magic

Author: Diana Wynne Jones Illustrator: 0 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 Illustrator: 0 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

Deep Secret

Deep Secret

Author: Diana Wynne Jones Illustrator: 0 Format: eBook Release Date: 08/09/2017

Byt' magidom ochen' neprosto. U tebya, konechno, navalom vsyakih magicheskih sposobnostej i ty mnogo chego znaesh' - v tom chisle i tak nazyvaemye strashnye tajny. Zato vo vverennom tebe mire mozhet priklyuchit'sya chto ugodno, a potom hlopot ne oberesh'sya. Rupert Venejblz - mladshij magid Zemli, i po tradicii vedaet delami v imperii Korifosa. Komandirovki v imperiyu u Ruperta samye nelyubimye - nikogda ne znaesh', chto vykinut tamoshnie vlasti. Vot i sejchas: imperator snachala kaznil starshego syna, a potom i sam pogib vo vremya tainstvennogo vzryva vo dvorce. Teper' magidu predstoit otyskat' naslednika - ta eshche zadachka: ved' vse mnogochislennye deti imperatora spryatany neizvestno gde i ne vedayut o svoem proiskhozhdenii. Vdobavok, kak nazlo, na Ruperta svalivaetsya otvetstvennaya missiya: vybrat' iz spiska kandidatov novogo magida. Bednyaga Rupert razryvaetsya mezhdu Zemlej i imperiej, lish' smutno dogadyvayas', chto vsya ehta nerazberiha - chast' Predopredeleniya. Vozmozhno, i ubijcy imperatora, i ego nasledniki, i kandidaty v magidy kak-to svyazany. Ih dorogi vedut v udivitel'noe mesto pod nazvaniem Vavilon. No do pory do vremeni ehto - strashnaya tajna... Vpervye na russkom yazyke!

The Spellcoats

The Spellcoats

Author: Diana Wynne Jones Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 26/01/2017

The third book in the epic fantasy-adventure series from 'the Godmother of Fantasy', Diana Wynne Jones. Now back in print! 'I had not seen how they hated us till I heard them shout. It was terrible.' Tanaqui and her family have always known they were somehow different from the other villagers. But when the great floods come and they are driven from their home, they begin to realise the part they must play in the destiny of the land. As Tanaqui weaves the story of their frightening journey to the sea and the terrifying, powerful evil of the mage Kankredin, she realises the desperate need to understand the meaning of it all. Can she fit the pieces of the puzzle together in time to halt Kankredin's destruction?

Spellcoats

Spellcoats

Author: Diana Wynne Jones Illustrator: 0 Format: eBook Release Date: 26/01/2017

The third book in the epic fantasy-adventure series from 'the Godmother of Fantasy', Diana Wynne Jones. 'I had not seen how they hated us till I heard them shout. It was terrible.'Tanaqui and her family have always known they were somehow different from the other villagers. But when the great floods come and they are driven from their home, they begin to realise the part they must play in the destiny of the land. As Tanaqui weaves the story of their frightening journey to the sea and the terrifying, powerful evil of the mage Kankredin, she realises the desperate need to understand the meaning of it all. Can she fit the pieces of the puzzle together in time to halt Kankredin's destruction?

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