Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Diana Wynne Jones’s first children’s book

Diana Wynne Jones, the acclaimed British author of fantasy and speculative fiction for children and young adults, published her first children’s book, Wilkins’ Tooth, in 1973. This year marks the 50th anniversary of her debut, and her fans and admirers are celebrating her legacy and influence on the genre.

A prolific and original writer

Jones wrote over 40 books, as well as numerous short stories, poems, essays, and reviews. She was known for her imaginative and humorous stories, often featuring magic, parallel worlds, time travel, and quirky characters. Some of her most popular works include the Chrestomanci series, the Dalemark series, the three Moving Castle novels, Dark Lord of Derkholm, and The Tough Guide to Fantasyland.

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Diana Wynne Jones’s first children’s book
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Diana Wynne Jones’s first children’s book

She was also a respected academic and literary critic, who taught at various universities and wrote about the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and other fantasy writers. She was a friend and colleague of many fellow authors, such as Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Robin McKinley, and Philip Pullman.

A source of inspiration and admiration

Jones’s books have been widely praised by critics and readers alike, and have won several awards, such as the Guardian Prize, the Mythopoeic Award, the Karl Edward Wagner Award, and the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. She has also been nominated for the Hugo Award, the Locus Award, the British Fantasy Award, and the World Fantasy Award.

Many of her books have been adapted into other media, such as radio plays, stage plays, comics, and films. The most famous adaptation is Howl’s Moving Castle, which was made into an animated film by Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli in 2004.

Jones has also been cited as an inspiration and muse for several fantasy and science fiction authors who grew up reading her books or met her personally. Some of them are J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Penelope Lively, Robin McKinley, Dina Rabinovitch, Megan Whalen Turner, Lev Grossman, Diana Gabaldon, Susanna Clarke, Garth Nix, Naomi Novik, Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, Cassandra Clare, Erin Morgenstern, V.E. Schwab, Marissa Meyer, and Katherine Rundell.

A tribute to her genius

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Jones’s first children’s book, several events and publications are planned for this year. Some of them are:

  • A special edition of Wilkins’ Tooth with a new introduction by Katherine Rundell.
  • A collection of essays by various authors and scholars on Jones’s life and work.
  • A podcast series featuring interviews with Jones’s family members, friends, colleagues, and fans.
  • A virtual conference on Jones’s influence on fantasy literature and culture.
  • A film festival showcasing some of the adaptations of Jones’s books.
  • A fan art contest inviting submissions of original artworks inspired by Jones’s books.

These activities aim to celebrate Jones’s contribution to the field of fantasy and speculative fiction for children and young adults. They also hope to introduce her books to new generations of readers who may not be familiar with her work.

As Katherine Rundell writes in her introduction to Wilkins’ Tooth: “Diana Wynne Jones was a true original: she wrote with wit and verve; she was unafraid of complexity or darkness; she was endlessly inventive; she was funny. She was one of the best writers for children of her generation – or any other.”

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