Diana Wynne Jones Biography
Diana Wynne Jones 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.
"However, I was extremely dyslexic," says Diana, "so when I
told my parents I wanted to be a writer, they just laughed." In spite of
this, between the ages of twelve and fourteen, the young writer completed two
epic tales scrawled in a total of twenty 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 C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein. It was here she met
her husband, John A Burrow, who is Professor of English at Bristol University.
They married in 1956 and have three sons.
She has written both children's books and plays (mostly performed at the
London Arts Theatre) and her first book was published in 1973. Since then she
has written over 40 books. Her enviably fertile mind has allowed her to write
prolifically, even when her three boys were small, and quite a handful! When
writing, she is 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 says, "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 organizations who have made a
significant impact on fantasy. JK Rowling was runner-up on both occasions.
She died in Bristol, England in March 2011, aged 76. On Twitter, Neil Gaiman wrote: "Rest in Peace, Diana Wynne Jones. You shone like a star. The funniest, wisest writer & the finest friend. I miss you."
This biography was last updated on 03/28/2011.
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