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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
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Diana Wynne Jones

Last March, Diana Wynne Jones passed away. Bristol (where she lived for many years) is planning a celebration of her life and work. Also in celebration, a blog tour has been organized by Sharyn November/Firebird with help from Greenwillow and Harper UK, her major US/UK publishers.

I did not have the honor of meeting her; but I have had the honor of “knowing” her through her books.

As I was getting things together for a post in honor of the Diana Wynne Jones blog tour, I realized something.

The books of hers that I loved? I read before I started blogging seriously. Which means that I have no links to reviews.

Instead, I have a list, and recollections. Confession: I forgot just how many of her books I’d read until I began going through the list.

I read the Chrestomanci series out of order. First I read Witch Week; then, I began at the beginning with The Lives of Christopher Chant and then Charmed Life, as recommended by the author. Whenever people (including myself) begin to dither about books in series being standalone or not, or whether it needs to be read in order, I remember how many times I’ve read books “out of order” and managed to enjoy the book and the series. 

Dark Lord of Derkholm cracked me up. Even now, remembering, I’m laughing over the tourists paying to visit fantasy land, and the inhabitants having to put on a show.

One of my favorite animated films is Howl’s Moving Castle.

The Time of the Ghost may be my favorite book, which may sound odd to some people because it’s not the fantasy type book she’s known for. The mix of boarding school, odd sisters, and a ghost with amnesia is deliciously spooky and funny and sinister.

I almost forgot her non-fiction book, The Tough Guide to Fantasy Land, which any fantasy reader or writer should read. The stew! The capes! The inns!

As for Fire and Hemlock: stay tuned! Later on in the tour, I’ll be sharing my review.

Meanwhile, check out this blog to Celebrate Diana Wynne Jones. So far my favorite post is the one featuring a cake of one of her books. Bet you can’t guess which one!

If you’re going to be tweeting about DWJ and her books during the tour, or looking for tweet, the hashtag is #dwj2012.

What else? Firebird is reissuing three of DWJ’s backlist: Dogsbody, with an introduction by Neil Gaiman; Fire and Hemlock, with an introduction by Garth Nix; and A Tale of Time City, with an introduction by Urusla K. Le Guin.

Also, this year Greenwillow published DWJ’s last new book, Earwig and the Witch, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky.

About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is


  1. Oh, Liz, you MUST read the Dalemark Quartet. Those are the first books of hers I read, and they are incredible. Start with CART AND CWIDDER.

    And did you know there’s a sequel to DARK LORD OF DERKHOLM?

    Oo, I’m going to have to reread those, and read the ones I haven’t yet. (FIRE AND HEMLOCK, EARWIG AND THE WITCH…)

  2. Sondy, so many books, so little time! Maybe this summer? And Fire & Hemlock is such a treat, I think you’ll enjoy it.

  3. I understood that “The time of the ghost” was partly autobiographical. Does anyone know if this is true? I know I’ve read that she didn’t have a good childhood.

  4. NiceOrc, I think I’ve read that, also — the sisters, the kind of benign neglect, how it was at the school, the hair incident (which also had a variation in Fire & Hemlock.)

  5. Yes, it’s definitely true. Except that DWJ had to tone down things that actually happened in her family for the book, for fear that no-one would believe it. You can read my interview with Diana here: and apologies for the massively out of date formatting–I’ll be moving it over to my wordpress site soon.

  6. Judith, thanks!


  1. […] Sadly, it’s also Jones’ last book: the author passed away last year. But with all the recent attention on Jones’ legacy, many readers will discover her books for the first time, and Earwig is the […]