Diana Wynne Jones was born in 1934, in London. She had perhaps not the happiest of childhoods - her mother disapproved of Diana's unusual hair color - mouse brown, a color no one else in the family had - and she "resisted all my attempts to hug her on the grounds that I was too big."

In 1940, wartime, Diana and her two sisters were shipped off to live with relatives in Wales. They lived in a house wihtout electricity which smelled of lamp oil. Diana would find out, many years later, that her future husband had been sent to stay with his grandparents, barely fifteen miles away.

Once, when she and her cousins were out walking, they swung on a garden gate. The owner of said garden emerged from her house, pissed, and whacked the kids to make them get off. This was Beatrix Potter.

"I read avidly that year, things like The Arabian Nights and the whole of Malory's Morte d'Arthur. Soon after I was eight, I sat up from reading in the middle of one afternoon and knew that I was going to be a writer one day. It was not a decision, or even a revelation. It was more as if my future self had leaned back from the years ahead and quietly informed me what she was. In calm certainty, I went and told my parents. 'You haven't got it in you,' my mother said. My father bellowed with laughter."

As her family life continued to be crap, Diana was lucky to be sent away to boarding school, but that sucked too.

In 1953, she went off to St. Anne's College, at Oxford. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were lecturers there   ("Lewis booming to crowded halls and Tolkien mumbling to me and three others"), and she says they each had enormous influence on her, though she can't say exactly how.

It was around this time that Diana met the man she would marry.   "In the small hall outside my father's office I ran into a cluster of them talking with my father. One of them said, 'Diana, you know John Burrow, do you?' I sort of looked. Not properly. All I got was a long beige streak of a man standing with them . . . And instantly I knew I was going to marry this man. It was the same calm and absolute certainty that I had had when I was eight. And it rather irked me, because I hadn't even looked at him properly and I didn't know whether I liked him, let alone loved him. Luckily both proved to be the case."

She married John, and they had three sons, the last of whom threatened to be a miscarriage. Diana had to stay in bed for most of that pregnancy, which gave her plenty of time to read. She was finally able to make it all the way through Lord of the Rings.   "It was suddenly clear to me after that that it was possible to write a long book that was fantasy."   This, plus having kids and getting to read the children's books she had missed in her own youth, spurred her writing career. However, "what I wrote was rejected by publishers and agents with shock and puzzlement."

In the mid-70s, with her children away at school, Diana was able to devote all her daytime energy to her books. She wrote like crazy, and started getting published. She has not stopped writing since, and is having a wonderful time.   "Each book is an experiment, an attempt to write the ideal book, the book my children would like, the book I didn't have as a child myself. I have still not, after twenty-odd books, written that book. But I keep trying."

Editor's note: Diana Wynne Jones died on March 26, 2011, after a prolonged battle with cancer.


Believing Is Seeing

Cart and Cwidder

Castle in the Air

Charmed Life

The Chronicles of Chrestomanci

The Crown of Dalemark

Dark Lord of Derkholm

Deep Secret

Drowned Ammet

Fantasy Stories


Howl's Moving Castle

The Lives of Christopher Chant

The Magicians of Caprona

Minor Arcana

The Spellcoats

Stopping for a Spell

A Sudden Wild Magic

The Time of the Ghost

The Tough Guide to Fantasyland

Wild Robert

Wilkin's Tooth

Witch Week

Year of the Griffin

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