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Diana Wynne Jones, RIP

I learnt via fjm this morning that Diana Wynne Jones has finally lost her long battle with cancer. She was easily my favourite children's author, and indeed quite probably my favourite living author full stop. The world will feel several shades greyer without her in it.

It's often said that the best children's literature works well for adults too, but that is a poor understatement in the context of Diana's books. I really can't think of any other author whose work had so much to offer whatever phase of life or state of mind the reader was in. I know that her books entranced and captured me as a child, even when I didn't always understand everything that was going on in them. I read Charmed Life in school around the age of ten, and long after I had forgotten its title, the name of the author or anything but the most rudimentary elements of the plot, it stayed with me and haunted me. Eventually I tracked it down as an adult and was amazed by how rich, insightful, honest and yet optimistic it was about childhood, and the relationship between children and adults, and the process of growing up. Now I know that that is par for the course with her work, and have a considerable stretch of book-shelf devoted to the pleasure of the discovery.

I was lucky enough to meet Diana at a reader's day in Bristol in 2006, and hear her talking about her work in general, and particularly Howl's Moving Castle and the forthcoming The Pinhoe Egg. So I did at least get a chance to tell her how much I enjoyed her work. I think, too, that given the passion and enthusiasm of her fan-base, she knew very well how universally she was loved and admired. But how sad, still, to know that that conversation is over now. :-(

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( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 26th, 2011 03:13 pm (UTC)
Reading the Chrestomanci books literally changed my life as a child. They opened up this other world of possibility - and, bizarrely, may have been one of the influences on me to think about academia and knowledge being valued and prized, and something to aspire to. I'm so glad those books are in the world, but it is very sad that the author is now gone.
Mar. 26th, 2011 09:40 pm (UTC)
Wow, that's a great tribute to their power and impact - and I'm sure a story which many of her readers could tell, too. Like you, I'm very glad that at least we still have the books.
Mar. 26th, 2011 03:23 pm (UTC)
I still haven't read any Diana Wynne Jones, and keep meaning to. My friends lists today have been full of reactions to her death.
Mar. 26th, 2011 09:31 pm (UTC)
I'm absolutely certain that you would enjoy both the Chrestomanci books and the Howl books. Both series have much that is Whovian in them - strangely unheroic hero-figures whom the point-of-view characters don't really understand, an emphasis on personal growth and integrity, not to mention travel between multiple places and indeed parallel worlds. Deep Secret also contains much that you will recognise from attending fan conventions. :-)
Mar. 27th, 2011 02:04 am (UTC)
I've also been meaning to read her books.

Ironically just last night I was watching Howl's Moving Castle and thought I really ought to get that.
Mar. 26th, 2011 04:00 pm (UTC)
Mar. 26th, 2011 09:40 pm (UTC)
Mar. 26th, 2011 04:18 pm (UTC)
I loved her books so much. I'm so glad you met her and got to tell her how much her books meant; in a strange way, even though I didn't know you then, it feels as though you were thanking her from me, too.
Mar. 26th, 2011 09:32 pm (UTC)
I certainly would have thanked her on your behalf too if I had known you! :-)
Mar. 26th, 2011 08:06 pm (UTC)
Thanks for making a missing link in my brain - I saw the headline but haven't learned her name despite Ange lending me the books a while ago. Liked those Chrestomanci books a lot, had no idea they came out long enough ago for people in our age bracket to have read them in school!
Mar. 26th, 2011 09:37 pm (UTC)
Oh yes - Charmed Life was first published in 1977. But it is a long-running (though only ever occasional) series, with The Pinhoe Egg only published in 2006.
Mar. 27th, 2011 12:53 pm (UTC)
Here because steepholm referred to what you wrote. I seem to need to hunt down references to Diana, as if it's not really true. I met her once at a pub meet; she was wonderful. Her books have been on my "Buy the minute they are published, even in hardback" list for the best part of two decades. I think she was just too intelligent and individual to gain the wide acclaim she really deserved.

Still feeling very sad. :-(

(Love your icon - so true of any DWJ fan!)
Mar. 27th, 2011 01:09 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the comment, and I entirely understand the disbelief, and the urge to seek out others feeling the same sadness. I'm glad you had your chance to meet her while you could.

The line in the icon for the main post is Diana's, from one of the Chrestomanci books. But although it stuck in my head, I couldn't track it down to double-check it when I made the icon, so it may be a mis-quote. :-/
Apr. 13th, 2011 05:11 am (UTC)
Very enlightening and beneficial to someone whose been out of the circuit for a long time.

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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