UniSA honours Sir Terry Pratchett: International best-selling author, humourist and humanist

Terry PratchettUniversity of South Australia Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd will award best-selling author Sir Terry Pratchett, OBE, an Honorary Doctorate from the University in person today.

The award acknowledges Pratchett’s enormous contribution to literature and creative writing.

Author of 50 novels and co-author of more than 50 other publications, Pratchett is globally renowned as the creator of the ‘Discworld’ and has seen his work sell over 85 million copies, with screen and stage adaptations around the world.

Sir Terry is an Adjunct Professor in the School of English at Trinity College Dublin and has had a similar title at UniSA since 2013.

UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor Lloyd says Terry Pratchett is a clear example of someone who has stayed true to his passion.

“Terry brings his immeasurable talent and intellect to doing what he loves - he has produced an enormous body of work that continues to delight and inspire millions of readers and writers around the world,” Prof Lloyd says.

“His contribution not only to literature, but also to the causes about which he is passionate, is enormous and has been rightly acknowledged in literary prizes, through sales and in awards such as this one. 

Born in Buckinghamshire, Pratchett showed a passion for creative writing since his early teens when his first short story – The Hades Business - was published in his school magazine.

He left school and began his working life as a journalist working for Bucks Free Press, but among his other duties quickly took on writing short stories for the children’s column in the paper 

His first novel, The Carpet People, was published in 1971 and he continued to write his witty, humorous fantasy works while holding down his day job.

One of the UK’s all-time bestselling authors, he is best-known for Discworld, a series of 39 stand alone volumes.

His works have been translated into 38 languages.

Now in his 60s, Pratchett has been diagnosed with posterior cortical atrophy (PCA), a rare form of early- onset Alzheimer’s disease. Having lost his ability to type, he continues to write using computer dictation and has become a strong advocate for the right to die with dignity.

Shocked by the lack of research funding into Alzheimer’s, in 2008 he personally committed US$1,000,000 to the Alzheimer Research Trust.

In 2012 his documentary project, filmed alongside his long term business manager Rob Wilkins, Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die was produced by Craig Hunter for the BBC and directed by Charlie Russell.

Among other accolades it was subsequently awarded Best Single Documentary at the International Emmy Awards. 

Choosing to Die was part two of a trilogy of award-winning documentaries the author has produced since his diagnosis, including Terry Pratchett: Living with Alzheimer’s (2009) in which he explored what the future would hold for him as a sufferer of the disease and Terry Pratchett: Facing Extinction (2013) where he returned to the rainforests of Borneo to highlight the plight of the orangutans and his own mortality.

Trustee for the Orangutan Foundation of the UK, he continues his strong support to save them from extinction.

Prof Lloyd says the University is delighted that Terry has accepted the title of Honorary Doctor, his first award of this type from outside the UK and Ireland.

“This brings Terry into the University of South Australia community in a more personal way and brings our students and the wider University closer to the life of a great writer and a great man.”

Pratchett says he is delighted and honoured to receive the award.

"I have been on the receiving end of many awards throughout my career, but I really am delighted to have been acknowledged in this way by the University of South Australia,” Pratchett says.  

“My love of Australia is widely known and I am only sorry that I am unable to make the journey down under to receive my Honorary Doctorate in person.

“Therefore, my humble thanks go to Professor Lloyd for racking up the air miles on my behalf.”

Media contact: Michèle Nardelli office: 08 8302 0966 mobile: 0418 823 673 email: Michele.nardelli@unisa.edu.au

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