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The End: Author Terry Pratchett loses long Alzheimer's battle aged 66

By Arifa Akbar

Discworld fans are in mourning. Their literary wizard, Sir Terry Pratchett, journalist turned internationally bestselling novelist of more than 70 books, died yesterday aged 66.

Shortly after 3pm, his official Twitter feed (run in conjunction with his friend, Rob Wilkins) sent a desolate yet typically unfussy message to fans: "The End". The message before that made the point more lyrically: "Terry took Death's arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night."

In the end he died at home, not in the Swiss clinic, Dignitas, about which he made a powerful documentary in February 2009, calling for assisted dying to be made legal in Britain.

The author had latterly become a fierce and fervent campaigner for the "right to die" after announcing in 2007 that he was suffering from posterior cortical atrophy, a rare variant of Alzheimer's disease (which he called his "embuggerance").

Larry Finlay, the managing director of his publishers, Transworld, said: "Terry passed away in his home, with his cat sleeping on his bed surrounded by his family."

When Pratchett revealed he had Alzheimer's, he did so in stalwart fashion, talking about the need to be cheerful, and about his own necessity to carry on working as long as he could.

The comic universe he created in Discworld - a flat disc balanced on the backs of four elephants standing on the back of a giant turtle - made millions laugh and think as well.

He published his first novel, The Carpet People, in 1971 but his career really took off after the publication of the first Discworld book, The Colour Of Magic, in 1983. His books sold millions of copies worldwide.

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