Wiltshire enters Discworld

on Tuesday, 17 December 2013. Posted in Wiltshire Places

Sir Terry Pratchett has lived in south Wiltshire for many years and is well known in the county for his work at literary, community and charity events. In some recent books the influence of the chalk landscape in which he lives has been very apparent. However it is his latest book that has just been added to the Wiltshire Collection at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre. In Raising Steam the power of steam locomotion comes to Discworld and the small settlement of Swine Town on the Sto Plain becomes a fast growing centre of engineering, mirroring the growth of our own Swindon. His railway company also provides homes and social facilities for railway workers, just like the GWR. There also happens to be a Fat Controller, the original of which was created by the Rev. Awdry after living in Box when a boy, listening to the steam locomotives chuffing and puffing around Box Tunnel, and later writing Thomas the Tank Engine books based on these memories.

A series of books for younger readers are greatly influenced by our chalk, albeit the carved horse is the Uffington one rather than one of our later Wiltshire ones. The young witch Tiffany Aching lives on the chalklands while Granny Aching is the greatest expert on sheep, and pretty good on the minds and actions of humans. The four books, The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith, and I shall Wear Midnight are also being added to the Wiltshire Collection. In them Tiffany’s power grows, despite it being thought that chalk is too soft a rock to nurture good witches, and it is the chalk, of which we have so much in Wiltshire, that is extremely important to her.

Like me, Terry Pratchett has been a fan of Steeleye Span since they were first formed – actually I was listening to members of the group before that, including Tim Hart and Maddy Prior at the Folk Singers Club in Swindon. Author and musicians, great fans of Discworld, have collaborated to produce a 16 track CD on the story of the Wintersmith. Needless to say that a copy now reposes in the Wiltshire Collection.

We’re always looking for novels that are set in our county or for writers influenced by Wiltshire. Any suggestions will be warmly welcomed.


Michael Marshman
County Local Studies Librarian

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