Diana Wynne Jones, 1934-2011

I’m sorry to have to tell you that Diana Wynne Jones, the much-loved British fantasy author, has just lost her life to cancer.

According to her official website, she has two forthcoming books; it’s strange to think that new things are going to come from her even though she is gone. And, of course, new readers will benefit from her legacy even as old fans revisit her work.

Please feel free to share your favourite memories and books in the comments.

41 comments for “Diana Wynne Jones, 1934-2011

  1. JetGirl
    March 26, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Noooo! I loved her! I’m so sorry to hear that.

  2. March 26, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    Oh no! I love her. My favorites include “The Lives of Christopher Chant,” “Witch Week,” and “Howl’s Moving Castle.” I still have several that I haven’t read. Very sad news.

  3. Zes
    March 26, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Oh that is sad! I love her books. My copy of “Dogsbody” almost fell apart, I read it so much. My copy of “Witch Week” isn’t in much better shape.

  4. WestEndGirl
    March 26, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    Jet, I literally said nooooo! outloud :-(

    I was in my last summer term in my last year at primary school in 1987, and Howl’s Moving Castle had recently been published.
    My class was very precocious, very lively, and we were often naughty as we were just at that age (eleven) when puberty is kicking in and we were feeling – quite literally – too cool for school.

    But the one thing that could get us to behave was Friday afternoon reading time. For what seems like weeks, our teacher Mrs Stephenson used to read aloud just one chapter of Howl’s Moving Castle. We would sit there rapt, in silence, listening to the fantasy, the love story, the adventures of Sophie and Howl.

    Afterwards, I read the book cover to cover, several times (and have since bought copies for both of my nieces) and seen the animated film. But still, those memories of sitting in a warm, sunny, dust-mote dancing, silent classroom, at peace with the world, listening to magic, are some of the happiest times I can recall.

    My her resting place be as magical as the worlds she created.

  5. March 26, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    Going to watch Howl’s Moving Castle tonight in tribute <3 She was a wonderful writer.

  6. de Pizan
    March 26, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    What a sad day–I read about her death, and then immediately after saw that Geraldine Ferraro had died.
    I love the Howl’s Moving Castle series, although Howl’s is the best out of the lot. I’ve read one or two of her books but didn’t really love them quite as much; I keep meaning to try the Chrestomanci series, now I really should check them out.

  7. March 26, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    de Pizan — the Chrestomanci series is lovely. I am crazy about “The Lives of Christopher Chant” myself, but they’re all terrific.

    My first book of hers was “Castle in the Air,” the sequel to “Howl’s Moving Castle.” But I think “Howl” is my favorite. I read it so many times I memorized the Donne poem they use in there. :)

  8. March 26, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    Castle in the air and howl’s moving castle are two of my favourite books ever! Castle in the Air is up there with Pride and Prejudice in my opinion. Very sad that she died to cancer.

  9. March 26, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    Olivia – I memorised the poem too! That was the beginning of my love of Donne. I have a whole shelf of her books at home, but had particular love for Howl’s, Witch Week and Magicians of Caprona. Oh, and The Homeward Bounders. And I wish I could find my old copy of Fire and Hemlock.

  10. March 26, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    I love the Chrestomanci books. They really mean a lot to me.

  11. Jane
    March 26, 2011 at 10:40 pm


    I’m sorry to deploy the capital letters, BUT THIS IS SO UPSETTING.

    I own all of her books I could find. I’ve read “Howl’s Moving Castle” probably five times before sending it on to a friend. The other ones I’ve read repeatedly are the Chrestomanci ones and “Year of the Griffin,” but I loved “Power of Three,” “The Ogre Downstairs,” and “Archer’s Goon.” I also really liked the “A Sudden Wild Magic,” “Deep Secret,” and “The Merlin Conspiracy” sequence. . . I think those went together? Frankly I never read a book by Diana Wynne Jones that didn’t just make me wonderfully happy. I’m not sure I like any author better. :P (Hopefully this doesn’t say anything about my maturity level that I like children’s fantasy best?)


    • March 26, 2011 at 11:02 pm

      Oh, Jane, I think that liking children’s fantasy best doesn’t say anything bad about you at all. It is beautiful and powerful in ways quite unique.

  12. Alix
    March 27, 2011 at 12:17 am

    My very first Diana Wynne Jones was Archer’s Goon…but my favorites were Fire and Hemlock (which I read to pieces and had to buy another), Howl’s Moving Castle, and Dark Lord of Derkholm. This is sad and awful news indeed; she had a unique and wonderful writing voice.

  13. konkonsn
    March 27, 2011 at 12:44 am

    I read Witch Week when I was in grade school, but at the time I just read whatever I could and didn’t really follow up on the authors. I actually first read Howl’s Moving Castle in Japan because it was one of the few English novels available at the campus bookstore, and I was feeling homesick. I couldn’t believe how good it was. Fire and Hemlock is another favourite. I’ll miss Ms. Jones.

  14. Hanna
    March 27, 2011 at 12:51 am

    I loved her books so much! So different from the formulaic Harry Potter type stuff. Also, my parents knew her when I was very young (about 5). She was a lovely woman and apparently offered my brother a signed copy of one of her books to read on the plane (I think it was Charmed Life) – and he said no thanks! 2 years later she was his favorite writer and he was kicking himself. Very sad to hear this, and for her family.

  15. Spay Your Sea Kitten
    March 27, 2011 at 2:38 am

    The Diana Wynne Jones’ books I’ve read are basically the only examples of the fantasy genre I like. My partner introduced me to her and particularly liked the Chrestomanci series. I’m very sorry to hear about her death.

  16. Medea
    March 27, 2011 at 4:53 am

    It’s tragic. There was no one so clever and charming.

  17. timothynakayama
    March 27, 2011 at 6:13 am

    Very, very tragic. We’ve lost a great storyteller.

  18. Natalie
    March 27, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Oh man, I loved her books when I was younger and started rereading them all this last year. She will be missed. Charmed Life is one of the best books ever. I love that she doesn’t shy away from darkness in her stories.

  19. Mimi
    March 27, 2011 at 9:42 am

    This makes me so sad! She’s my favorite author and I literally burst into tears when I saw this.

    Dark Lord of Derkholm/Year of the Griffin are my favorites. My favorite Crestomanci is The Pinhoe Egg. My favorites in the Howl series are Howl’s Moving Castle and House of Many Ways. I’m also a big fan of the Deep Secret/The Merlin Conspiracy duo.

  20. March 27, 2011 at 10:05 am

    I read Howl’s as an adult and wanted to find the sequel, she was such a gem. Wrote the kind of books I could see myself sharing with the younger readers I know/will know.

    Long may her praises be sung.

  21. Jackie
    March 27, 2011 at 10:28 am

    im so upset now!!! i just finished Castle in The Air this morning!!! and then i got curious and went on her website for the first time and found out she died YESTERDAY!!!! :.( im so sorry for her and hope her family is ok!!! i feel bad…..

  22. Jackie
    March 27, 2011 at 10:29 am

    i would have cried when i saw this but my friend was right next to me and was like “Your eyes are tearing up!!!!” i will cry when he leaves….:.(

  23. O.
    March 27, 2011 at 10:34 am

    I am so very sad to hear this. I heard about it first on Robin McKinley’s blog. I love all of the DWJ books I read. One of my favorites (and underappreciated, I think) is The Spellcoats. Dreamy and lyrical. Howl’s Moving Castle, of course, is a favorite (loathed the movie, since it completely departed from the book). Charmed Life was my first DWJ book, and so has a special place. Oh, so many wonderful books that I grew up with! I think I shall have to reread them all now in her honor.

  24. March 27, 2011 at 10:53 am

    I sort of expected this. I last checked her website four days ago for news, since it’s been some time since she stopped treatment and all. :(

    A couple of years ago, I took some time off to travel and the only book I brought along was Howl’s Moving Castle. I’ve read – and liked – many of her books, but I just have to have Howl’s Moving Castle within reach all the time. It’s just too good. (I have two copies, because I thought I lost the first one and I became quite sad for some time until I saw it again in a bookstore and I just grabbed it. Then I found it in my mom’s room. -_-)

    RIP, Diana Wynne Jones. I hope they effing name a road after her or something.

  25. Shee
    March 27, 2011 at 11:08 am

    When I saw the words Diana Wynne Jones and died I got a jolt and immediately thought NOO! How terribly sad….

    My favorite book oh hers would probably be The Homeward Bounders, its a fascinating, absorbing piece of work.

  26. r.t.
    March 27, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    I loved A Tale of Time City when I was 10/11 and must have read it about 7 times.

    It’s sad to see one of the authors who got me into reading go.

  27. Katie
    March 27, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    oh MAN. that’s terrible. she’s one of my favorite authors of all time – i reread her books regularly. over the years i’ve really come to struggle with some elements that i consider problematic in her writing, but i always always admired her character- and world-building and her abiding sense of humor. i am so disappointed that i never wrote to her to tell her how much i loved her books, and how much they meant to me over the years. i would be poorer in spirit today without her work.

  28. paraxeni
    March 27, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    @r.t. I adored A Tale of Time City too. I read it over and over as a kid. It was a standing joke at our local library that I couldn’t bear to part with DWJ books and got them restamped over and over again.

    I’m literally in tears. My country has lost a legend.

  29. SpaceShipRat
    March 27, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    I’d been frantically checking her website over and over, since the news more than a year ago. I have cried already for her… but it still hits hard.
    She was the kind of authour who’s presence you felt in the book, as if they were writing before you, and occasionally exchanging a complicit glance (like every time a young girl falls for Chrestomanci!) and she was just like that, a young girl, telling herself and through her eyes, as if through an enchanted glass, the sudden, wild magic that pervaded the world.
    I think you can see it, more and more in her later books, she was writing a guide, tracing a path to tapping into your imagination. Other writers make me want to read more. emerging from one of her stories has always made me want to write.

  30. willa
    March 29, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Such sad, sad news! I just loved her writing. My condolences to her family and friends.

    I enjoyed the Howl’s Moving Castle books, but they weren’t my favorites like others were.

    I loved Dogsbody much more, it just blew me away as a kid, and Fire and Hemlock still bewilders me (the ending) but I still read it once a year. Love that book.

    My very favorite of her novels is The Time of the Ghost. The sisters and the mystery and the ghostiness and everything, I just love it, and have read it again and again and again.

    She will be greatly missed.

  31. March 29, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    We have a post up today at our blog describing our favorite books of hers. You reminded me that I also liked “Homeward Bounders”. A sad day for fantasy fans.

  32. March 30, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Did the word pass to Caprona tonight?
    It is known by the Magids: they grieve her.
    All of Dalemark mourn the Spellcoat weaver,
    Nine-lifed wizards, fiddling cats, worlds to write,

    And write ogres, witches, dragons, of flight,
    Worlds beyond walls, chained myth, a deceiver
    you know tells you the truth, a dream fever
    Never believe Chrestomanci polite

    Never believe Chrestomanci is cant
    Enchanters and wizards know in their bones
    Just one word, Chrestomanci, over thrones
    or great powers, makes all villains recant
    Now read her words: that’s what we have. Enchant
    er without equal, Diana Wynne Jones.
    -Sonnet for Chrestomanci

  33. Elarra
    March 30, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Did the word pass to Caprona tonight?
    It is known by the Magids: they grieve her.

    That was really beautiful, you have me in tears now.

    Diana Wynne Jones have been my favourite author for some years now. The more I read of her books and about her, the more I came to realise what a fantastic author and person she was. The sentimental drivel quote, along with all else Tom Lynn said in Fire and Hemlock might have saved my writing when I was younger.

  34. Politicalguineapig
    March 31, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    My favorite book was the Dark Lord of Derkholm, although Year of the Griffin was a close second. I’m so sad, no more amazing books.

  35. Alberte
    April 1, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Oh no, I saw this just now. She’s one of my absolute favourite authors (even though I found her as a grown up). I love almost all her books. This is so sad:(

  36. April 1, 2011 at 9:20 pm


    I haven’t read a book of hers yet that I didn’t like, but the Howl trilogy was especially endearing.

    She will be missed.

  37. Lisa
    April 5, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    My favorite author of all time. I just finished rereading the Dalemark Quartet, I think its her best work ever. I am so happy that she was such a prolific writer who gave us so many worlds to explore, and I’m grateful that she never stopped writing, even up to the end of her life. These comments have brought me to tears though, Diana really had a palpable presence in my life. Thanks for the Sonnet for Chrestomanci, I totally lost it while reading it lol. You expressed beautifully how I’m feeling right now.

  38. mags parry
    April 21, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    thanks to everyone for posting your comments – I was so sad to find this news tonight, but so glad to read that so many other people feel as I do about her writing. For me, I think it is much harder to write well for children than for adults. Thank you, Diana Wynne Jones – you have given us all some truly wonderful gifts to last us all our lives.

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