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Celebrate Diana Wynne Jones

By Phyllis Larkin

At Greenwillow I worked with Diana Wynne Jones on more than a dozen books. I was not her editor—that was Susan Hirschman and then Virginia Duncan—but I was the intermediary, for lack of a better word, between the copy editor and Diana on the path to a manuscript ready for setting.

On one of the early manuscripts, I was talking with Diana about some proposed copyediting changes. She was rejecting most of them, but there was one that I thought was important, so I kept pressing her about it. Finally she turned aside from the telephone to ask her husband, who was a professor of English at Bristol University, if this wasn’t a case of . . . some Latin phrase that I didn’t recognize. He agreed, she repeated the phrase to me, and I stumblingly retreated, thinking this was a grammatical term I should know. I then went all around the offices, asking if anyone could explain the phrase to me. No one could. In a few days, however, one came back to tell me he/she had found the translation. It turned out to mean something like “because that’s the way it is.” We both laughed, but I knew that Diana, ever so politely, had taught me a lesson. From then on, I was very cautious in suggesting changes in her texts and learned to recognize and appreciate her unique style and wonderfully supple prose, which might depart from traditional grammatical rules but conveyed exactly the meaning or mood she wanted. She and I became friends over the years, and I looked forward to our conversations about new manuscripts, which often veered into talk about personal matters. I loved working with her on her books, which range from fully imagined fantasy worlds to stories with settings that could be contemporary, all filled with excitement, adventure, humor, and keen insights. I miss her very much.

Last week Diana Wynne Jones‘s publishers around the world began celebrating Diana’s life and her work. A blog tour is in progress. Join in the celebration with your own blog posts (and let us know about them!).

You can also submit images, memories, links, and anything else you can think of to the Diana Wynne Jones tumblr at dwj2012.tumblr.com.

And on Twitter, use the hashtag #dwj2012 to join the conversation.


  1. mwt says:

    Oooooh, those professor husbands are so useful!

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