Monday, March 28, 2011

Diana Wynne Jones

After a colleague sent me an email early Saturday morning informing me that Diana Wynne Jones had just died, I posted a short wail of a message on this blog.  And then removed it, as I couldn't find any actual proof of her demise, just lots of rumors.  Although it would have been wonderful to find out that DWJ had issued a statement to the effect that rumors of her death had been greatly exaggerated, I didn't want to be spreading unsubstantiated stories.

Alas, the news is true - the Guardian has published an affectionate obituary filled with astonishing little tidbits, like the fact that DWJ's sister was once slapped by Beatrix Potter. 

I am devastated that the number of books by DWJ is now finite, but on the other hand, her body of work is so vast, varied, and vibrant that I could be happy for a year just re-reading it all.  In the past year, I re-read Archer's Goon and all the Castle books, and it's past time for another read of the Dalemark Quartet and of course the Chrestomanci books. 

In fact, Jones' books are so complex, witty, enchanting, and deeply satisfying that I'm feeling a strange and slightly unsettling mix of emotions.  It appears possible to mourn the loss of one of the world's greatest writers while also rejoicing in the bounty she has left us. 

Readers of her books find that their own world is one of possibility - of hidden depths lurking below the apparent mundanity of daily life and wonders waiting just beyond the next turn of the hallway.  Just as magic leaks through the membrane separately fantasy from reality in Jones' books, so does the vividness and color of Jones' fiction leak from her books out into the world. 

I live in a world permeated with magic and mayhem, thanks to Diana Wynne Jones.  Long live the Queen of Fantasy!

To honor her memory and spread some magic around, advise a child (or adult!) to read one of her books this week.  And while you're at it, booktalk an Eva Ibbotson novel as well.  Great women.  Great books.


  1. As soon as I saw Neil Gaiman's tweet I knew, sadly, it was so. His post today:

    And I agree about honoring her by urging others to read her books, especially those who have not yet done so. (I did my post for both educating alice and HuffPost figure there were many I there who haven't had that pleasure yet.)Years ago I heard her speak at CLNE (at Cambridge) and she was in person as she was in print --- unique.

  2. I am so sad about Diana Wynne Jones. What a force she was. At least we have her books with us forever.

    By the way, Eva, I'm a former student of yours from UCLA. I just subscribed to your blog with Google Reader. Congrats on running the marathon in the cold, freezing rain! You're awesome. :)

    P.S. I'm a children's librarian now for County...but I hope we can work together one day!

  3. Hi Rita! Where do you work at County? Knowing this small world of children's librarianship, we'll no doubt work with each other at some point (on a committee, a panel, or even at LAPL).
    Monica, your elegy on DWJ was gorgeous!

  4. I was in shock when I heard that Diana Wynne Jones had passed away. Her books were part of my childhood, and I revisit them periodically as time goes on. Thanks for writing this post.