Trinity Community Mourns the Death of Sir Terry Pratchett

Posted on: 12 March 2015

One of the most important modern satirists in the English language, Terry Pratchett, passed away on 12th March, 2015. Closely associated with Trinity College Dublin, Sir Terry was the author of the famous Discworld series of 39 books, in which he created a satirical counter world to hold up a distorting mirror to our own. His work has sold more than 55 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 33 languages. Often compared to Jonathan Swift, he has won numerous literary awards and was appointed OBE in 1998. In 2007, Terry Pratchett was diagnosed with a rare early onset Alzheimer's disease. Since then he was generously supporting research on Alzheimer's disease and spoke out publicly about his illness, confronting the taboo around the disease and encouraging an open debate. In 2011 Terry Pratchett participated in the BBC documentary Choosing to Die, where he passionately defended assisted suicide for the terminally ill.

In November 2010 Sir Terry Pratchett joined the staff at Trinity College Dublin as an adjunct Professor in the School of English.  His close relationship with the university began in December 2008 when he was conferred with an honorary degree, and since then the relationship has deepened, with Colin Smythe, Pratchett's literary agent, donating a complete back-catalogue of Terry's published translations to the College Library in 2009. University life features regularly in his bestselling Discworld novels, with his hilarious descriptions of 'Unseen University' and its eccentric staff, such as the 'Egregious Professor of Cruel and Unusual Geography', and the simian Librarian who refuses all efforts to undo his magical transformation into an orang-utan.    

Sir Terry delivered his 2010 public inaugural professorial lecture in the College's Public Theatre – which, drawing on Trinity's literary heritage, he entitled, 'The importance of being absolutely amazed about everything'. Commenting on his entry to academic life, Professor Sir Terry commented: "Until recently I couldn't even spell academic and now I are one!"

Taking up his post as adjunct Professor of English at Trinity College Dublin with great enthusiasm, Sir Terry was busy preparing classes in creative writing and popular literature for students on a range of Trinity's postgraduate courses including the M.Phil. in Creative writing course in the Oscar Wilde Centre for Irish Writing.  These students got the benefit of master classes from one of the greatest comic novelists of the modern era.

The world premiere of Terry Pratchett’s ‘The Duel’ took place in Trinity in October 2013. Set in the 'Unseen University' of Discworld, 'The Duel' is an animated short film produced by the Animation Hub, a collaboration between the Irish School of Animation at Ballyfermot College of Further Education, Trinity College Dublin and the Irish animation studio, Giant Animation Studios.  

Sir Terry was hands-on engaged with the production, working with both institutions and the team from Giant Animation Studios. The short film has blended fantasy and reality, with notable Irish landmarks set amongst the unreal environments of this animated adventure.