'New' Terry Pratchett short story collection discovered

British author Terry Pratchett in 2010
British author Terry Pratchett in 2010 Copyright AP Photo
By Jonny Walfisz
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The beloved author of the Discworld series died in 2015. But a keen-eyed fan has uncovered 20 new works written by Pratchett under a pseudonym.

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A treasure trove of Sir Terry Pratchett's short stories have been discovered and will be published as the late author’s final collection of “new” writing.

The beloved British author of the fantasy novels, including the popular 41 book Discworld series, passed away in 2015 aged 66. A prolific writer in his own lifetime, Pratchett wrote 70 books that sold more than 100 million copies.

The Terry Pratchett estate has continued to publish posthumous work by the author including the final Discworld novel ‘The Shepherd’s Crown’ in 2015, and short story collection ‘The Witch’s Vacuum Cleaner’ in 2016.

But the next Pratchett book to be published took even his estate by surprise. 20 “new” short stories have been rediscovered and will be released in October titled ‘A Stroke of the Pen: The Lost Stories’.

The short stories were written by Pratchett in the 70s and 80s for an English regional newspaper, many under the pseudonym Patrick Kearns. The stories would have gone unnoticed if not for a keen-eyed Pratchett fan.

Johnny Green/AP
Author Sir Terry Pratchett is knighted by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, London Wednesday Feb. 18, 2009.Johnny Green/AP

Chris Lawrence discovered one of the longer short stories ‘The Quest for Keys’ as a 15-year-old. “I made the effort to collect each part. I treasured and kept them safe for over 35 years,” he says.

Lawrence loved the story so much, he framed ‘The Quest for Keys’ and had it on his wall. It was only when he connected the dots that he realised it was written in Pratchett’s distinctive style. Written before the Discworld novels, the short stories still have his trademark wit and satirical intelligence, as well as a blend of fantastical imagination and mundane modernity.

Upon his discovery, he contacted Pratchett’s publisher Colin Smythe. “For all the years I was Terry’s publisher and then agent he never ever gave me any help in finding his shorter writings – but as he wrote in his dedication to me in ‘Dragons at Crumbling Castle’, there were stories he had “carefully hidden away and very deliberately forgot all about.” Just how true these words were, I had no idea,” Smythe explains.

The discovery of a wealth of new Pratchett material stunned Lawrence. “Having survived numerous house-moves, little did I know of their importance. Following contact with Colin, I realised just how significant they were,” he says.

While these short stories will see the light of day once again, there are other posthumous Pratchett works that won’t get the same treatment. The author demanded a hard drive with 10 incomplete novels was crushed by a steamroller in his will.

“The rediscovery of these stories is nothing short of a miracle and represents the last ‘new’ Pratchett material we are ever likely to find,” explains Pratchett biographer Rob Wilkins.

“Whilst Terry was always very focussed on the next novel and maintained that his unpublished works should never be released, he always held a grudging admiration for his younger self’s work, and he would be tickled to see these stories celebrated in one wonderful volume. The stories from the beginning of his career, before he became the Terry Pratchett we know and love, are no less inspired and give real insight into the development of his creative genius,” Wilkins adds.

‘A Stroke of the Pen: The Lost Stories’ will be published on 5th October 2023.

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