Between October 6 and October 13, the Beaconsfield Society is celebrating the seventieth anniversary of the birth of Sir Terry Pratchett in the town.

Member Deirdre Smaje has prepared this profile of Terry for the Nostalgia page.

A closer look at this seemingly ordinary photograph of the Chiltern Amateur Radio Club in the 1960s reveals an extraordinary young man.

Standing in the centre, to the right of the man with a pipe, the happily grinning teenager is the young Terry Pratchett. 

He would go on to be a publishing phenomenon, the world’s most loved fantasy fiction writer and celebrated creator of Discworld.

In the 1990s, he was the UK’s biggest-selling author and as he proudly acknowledged, its most heavily shoplifted one.

Sales of his books now top 85 million with translations into 40 different languages.

When awarded an OBE in 1998 for ‘services to literature’ Terry joked, ‘I suspect the ‘services…’ consisted of refraining from trying to write any.’

In all he wrote or co-wrote over 70 books for adults and children, as well as plays and computer games, and won many awards, including the prestigious Carnegie Medal for Children’s Literature in 2001. 

He received scores of honorary doctorates including one of from Buckinghamshire New University in 2008. He was knighted in 2009.

Terence David John Pratchett was born 70 years ago on 28 April 1948 at the Kinellan Nursing Home, on the corner of Penn Road and Ledborough Lane in Beaconsfield.

He lived in Forty Green in a house with no running water until 1957, when the family moved to Upper Riding in Holtspur.

Terry’s father, David, worked at the Old Town Garage (now Dunlops) and his mother, Eileen, worked in a shop.

From 1954–59, Sir Terry was a pupil at Holtspur County Primary School. It was ruled by the famously strict Headmaster, Mr HW Tame, who had little time for the imaginative young boy who would rather be out playing.

Sir Terry wrote later: ‘In all truth I cannot say that my memories of school are of the warmest, but possibly that was because I was a quintessential twit and dreamer’.

To earn pocket money Sir Terry got a job as a Saturday boy at Beaconsfield Library. This was the place where he indulged his love of reading, becoming an insatiable reader, especially of fantasy/sci fi books.

From Holtspur, Sir Terry went in 1959 to High Wycombe Technical High School as he felt that woodwork would be ‘more fun than Latin’. He described himself as a nondescript student but his writing – and debating – skills soon emerged. 

At 13, his short story ‘Business Rivals’ appeared in the school’s magazine, the Technical Cygnet. Two years later he sold a longer version, ‘The Hades Business’, to Science Fantasy magazine for £14. He used the money to buy his first typewriter.

In 1965, aged 17, Sir Terry decided to leave school rather than take his A Levels, to become a cub reporter with the Bucks Free Press. He took on the role of ‘Uncle Jim’ in their Children’s Circle column and wrote short, funny stories to amuse his young readers. 

In all he produced 67 stories, some extending over several issues. One would form the basis of his first novel, ‘The Carpet People’.

Terry left the Bucks Free Press in 1970, but returned in 1972 as sub-editor for a year. Collections of some of these Uncle Jim stories are available today, as is The Carpet People, much revised by Sir Terry himself in 1991, still in print nearly 50 years after it was first published.

In 1968, as a young reporter, Sir Terry interviewed Peter Banden, a co-director and publisher at Colin Smythe Ltd, based in Gerrards Cross. 

He asked whether they would consider the book he had written, ‘The Carpet People’. Colin Smythe loved the book: ‘It was a delight, and it was obvious that here was a book we had to publish – indeed, we could not not publish it.’ 

It was published in November 1971, with the launch party held in the carpet department of Heals in London. Colin later handed over publication to Gollancz, as his author’s fame grew, but he remained Sir Terry’s agent and friend.

Sir Terry’s world-famous Discworld series began in 1983. The 41st title appeared in 2015, just after his premature death on March 12 2015 from a rare form of Alzheimer’s, Posterior Cortical Atrophy. 

After his diagnosis in 2007, he decided to tell the world about what he called his ‘embuggerance’ and campaigned hard to raise awareness and for more research into the disease. ‘I felt that all I had was a voice and I should make it heard.’ A Humanist, he also spoke out movingly for the right to die.

The events organised by the Beaconsfield Society to celebrate Terry Pratchett’s birth, 70 years ago, are:

10 October, friend and collaborator Steven Briggs will talk about mapping Discworld at Beaconsfield Library, 7pm.

13 October, the National Film and TV School will host an evening of film (Sir Terry’s moving BBC documentary on living with dementia) and personal stories from Bernard Pearson, nicknamed ‘The Cunning Artificer’ by Sir Terry and well known for his sculptures of Discworld characters and buildings, as well as the Discworld Emporium.

The proceeds are in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society and the Orangutan Foundation.

For more information and to book tickets, go to www.