On Saturday, acclaimed fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones passed away at the age of 76 after a two-year battle with lung cancer. Jones wrote more than 40 books over a career that spanned more than three decades, and garnered numerous accolades for her rich body of work, including a lifetime achievement award from the World Fantasy Organization in 2007.
Jones' books are beloved by young readers and adults alike, and she is perhaps best known for the world she first created in Howl's Moving Castle, and for her popular Chrestomanci series which includes The Lives of Christopher Chant--the young Chrestomanci character in this one is said to be based on Neil Gaiman, a close friend of hers. Gaiman saw Jones the day before she died, and shares wonderful memories (and photographs) of her on his website, where he recalls becoming a Diana Wynne Jones fan after reading A Charmed Life at age 18. Gaiman calls her "...the funniest, wisest, fiercest, sharpest person I've known, a witchy and wonderful woman, intensely practical, filled with opinions, who wrote the best books about magic,..." Howl's Moving Castle was named an ALA notable book in 2004 and in 2006 the novel was made into an animated film by director Hayao Miyazaki and went on to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature. Diana Wynne Jones' next book, Earwig and the Witch is scheduled to be published in February 2012. She will be sorely missed but her charming, surprising, magical adventures will live on in the hands of readers for many years to come.