Our socials have been somewhat silent and our newsletters few, as we have had our heads down and noses to the grindstone for the past few months getting to grips with a number of seed changes for the Emporium, not least a change of premises . . .
As our mail order continues to go from strength to strength we have outgrown, rather bittersweetly, our beloved former HQ at No. 41 High Street. With every surface taken up by stock there was no longer room to swing a flea, let alone a feline. At Christmas we couldn’t move for mailbags full of orders, and Royal Mail’s lithest post personnel were struggling to get in the door. Quite frankly things we’re getting silly, especially from a health and safety point of view – oh how our fire officer would despair!
It was timely then that the building’s resident owners and Discworld Emporium founders Bernard and Isobel also decided to put the old girl on the market in favour of somewhere more practical to call their home. The time had come for Discworld to leave the building, and the first few months of the year were spent moving premises to our new residence just down the road, and still in the heart of Ankh-Morpork’s twin town, Wincanton. The Turtle Moves – but not very far!
Of course it was incredibly sad to leave No. 41 and to see it empty. A hallowed hall of literary import for over twenty years the place is more than just a building, but a trailblazing point of pilgrimage for geeks and book nerds, No.41 is a place where stories were shared, friends made and romances ignited. Where incredible millinery ducked under the door, and folks queued down the road for a fix of novelty postage stamps and perhaps a glimpse of the author himself. A place where Bernard and Isobel took a chance on putting up a young Ian and Reb who once hid at the top of the stairs excitedly earwigging a meeting between a famous author and a prestigious media company, completely unaware of how bound they would become to this wyrd little shop.
Although initially feeling slightly at sea in our considerably newer sand comparatively clinical new home, now we’ve got the place filled with all our stuff we feel right at home. Our fire officer no longer fears for our safety, and we are certainly feeling the benefit of having more room for the creative juices and fruit to flow, and for our children to play, read and learn the ropes of the family business! Our new headquarters are in a building rather fittingly called ‘Guild House’ where we have enough room to swing not just a cat, but two children. At last we can enjoy plenty of daylight, and most importantly, we have room enough for all our books. Almost.
Our downstairs quarters house our design studio, mailroom, book room and stock rooms galore. Upstairs, we are blessed with studios for prints and photography, plus a big bright communal area with a kitchen for frying up a bacon sandwich, and lots of space for the little ones to play while we work, not to mention and celebrate birthdays and special occasions!
In a small but delightful coincidence our lovely neighbours are the TP group (not a Pratchettarian Cult, unfortunately, but clever sorts who work on military defence-tech.) Although our offices are not open to the public we have had fun adding little Discworld touches to our new digs, covering it in original artworks from our various Discworld Publications that have previously been hidden away in storage, plus lots of ephemera from the old shop. We are now most definitely not open to the public, but having worked hard to restructure our operations we are hoping to have more free time to spend out and about attending conventions and events with you all!
We also sadly said goodbye to our long-serving team members Sarah and Eilis earlier this year, who have moved on to begin adventures new. These ladies have been part of our fabric and family for many a year, and we are missing them hugely. The task of finding and acquainting ourselves with new staff who would be equally as wonderful has been quite the undertaking. Add in a succession of not-so-minor health wobbles and personal catastrophes all going on all at the same time, and it’s certainly the Truth that that times have been interesting!
Despite the trials of the year and falling behind on our releases, we have managed to unleash a few major products this year, including the Mappa Discworld art Print Edition and Two new puzzles being The Witch Trials and The Glorious 25th of May which were released on the day of the Glorious Revolution, both exquisitely illustrated by David Wyatt of course! ‘Glorious’ Art prints of these incredible artworks are also available for those of a less puzzling bent!
We are particularly proud of Discworld Denizens collections of miniature figurines released in June. sculpted to our designs by Shaun Main, Discworld Denizens are little figurines with BIG personalities from the badass to the gorblimey! The first collections were the City Watch and Unseen University collections which have gone down the proverbial storm, and we are itching to unleash the next figures in the series which will be coming to your shelves this Hogswatch!
Big book releases this year have been the paperback version of a Life With Footnotes, the official Terry Pratchett, summed up perfectly by quote on the cover from the Telegraph: ‘Spins magic from mundanity in precisely the way Pratchett himself did’. Rob really tells it ‘how it was’ by illuminating the real Sir Terry Pratchett that those closest to him knew, with all his quirks and equal strokes of awkwardness and genius that oft came hand in hand. Our thanks to Rob for recounting our small parts on Terry’s stage and congratulations for winning the 2023 Locus Award for Non-Fiction and the 2023, and British Science Fiction Association Award for Best Non-Fiction!
This will be followed in October by A Stroke of The Pen featuring ‘lost stories’ discovered in no small part by Jan and Pat “Lord of the Uber-fans” Harkin after trawling through old newspapers in search of forgotten stories by Sir Terry written under a pseudonym. We are so chuffed that it was Pat and Jan, stalwarts and pinnacles of the Discworld fandom and friends of the Emporium (and indeed the author himself) to have brought these stories to the world’s attention. Thank you Pat and Jan!
Now that we are back on track, and through he fog of recent challenges, it’s shaping up to be another ‘Terry’ good year for all things Pratchett. We have also been treated to Good Omens 2, new paperback editions of the Discworld series, plus a new Discworld Calendar for 2024 featuring the artwork of Paul Kidby. Most excitingly for us however, was the release of Royal Mail’s official Discworld set of postage stamps and ephemera! Of course, Terry Pratchett characters have featured on royal mail stamps before, but this is the first, and quite frankly overdue release entirely dedicated to Discworld. As proud purveyors of Discworld stamps since 2004 it was a thrill to be asked to contribute the words to this collection, which we’re sure you will agree were enough to make Stanley Howler explode with excitement!
Thank you all for your patience in waiting for new releases, and here’s to more magic in the months ahead – in the meantime . . .
MIND HOW YOU GO!
Don’t forget to keep sharing our wares on the socials, and tag us @DiscworldEmporium on Facebook and Insta, and @DiscworldShoppe on Twitter.
Where to start . . . well, it’s been a verra, verra long time since we’ve sat at the keyboard for a dose of bloggery, and much has changed here on roundworld since our last post in March 2020, just days before the declaration of a global pandemic and two years of madness and sadness that followed it.
“Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
– Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky
The Emporium is no longer the same place as its was before the global enbuggerance of Covid-19, and many of you will be aware of the closure of the Discworld Emporium’s Bricks and mortar shop in Wincanton (read our original article here). Over lockdown our founders Bernard and Isobel had a taste of retirement, and it was found to be delicious, so at a combined age of 150 the Pearsons decided to step down from Emporium duties to spend a little more time with their families and begin a new chapter in their story. After 30 years in Discworld, and 20 years since opening the Discworld Emporium, the time seemed right.
Thanks to being in the business of distractions (mostly jigsaw puzzles and books) the Emporium’s mail-order arm was inundated with orders over the height of the pandemic, and our shop floor completely transformed into a bustling mailroom. With Pearson’s retirement and a booming online shop to manage, we made the difficult but sensible decision to move exclusively online. Our hallowed building is still our home and headquarters, but our ‘real’ shop is closed to the public for the foreseeable future.
Of course, Brexit also occurred in January last year. UK leaving the European has continued to present a mammoth-poo-sized pile of administrative, logistical and customer service challenges for our little literary shop as we contend with considerably more complex customs requirements and consequences.
To continue shipping to the EU we have taken on more team members, a brand new postage system, and built our brand new website to make shipping and accounting for global tax a smoother experience. At last we can utilise the EU’s International One-Stop-Shop to include country-specific VAT at checkout for orders under £135 to minimise additional charges on delivery. We hope that our European customers can once again enjoy receiving Discworld books and merchandise with minimal stress, because gods know we’ve had quite enough of that over the past couple of years!
Since November Terry Pratchett’s fans and the custodians of his work have been rejoicing in all things Pratchett in honour of 50 years since the publication of his first book, the Carpet People. Beginning with a 50th anniversary edition of the Carpet People in November, this year-long celebration sees the release of Terry’s official biography A Life With Footnotes on September 29th, along with 40 Discworld audiobook adaptations from Penguin Audio with narration by Bill Nighy, Indira Varma, Andy Serkis and Sian Clifford.
Penguin Random House are also treating us to entire Discworld series being released with new paperback editions. featuring cover artwork by Leo Nickolls. These striking new liveries are designed to entice a new audience to Discworld, and have been created under the direction of Terry Pratchett’s estate and feature elements based on the character designs of Paul Kidby. Purists need not worry though, as the new paperbacks will sit alongside the current Josh Kirby/Paul Kidby covers so there is something for everyone! The Witches collection, Small Gods and the Wizards series are available now, while the Death books will be released in October.
To celebrate #50YearsofTerry we also released our spectacular ‘Anniversary Edition’ Great A’Tuin Figurine. This bigger and more beautiful version of our signature bronze finish Discworld model represents our unique relationship with Terry Pratchett and his incredible creations for which we are forever thankful.
Sculpted in fantastic detail by Rich Kingston in our 30th year of creating Discworld magic, this stunning Star Turtle marks three decades since Terry Pratchett gave Bernard and Isobel the rights to produce the first-ever Discworld merchandise with a figurine of Rincewind as our former company Clarecraft. The cowardly ‘Wizzard’ was the first in an extraordinary series of Discworld figurines and collectables that made us the original Discworld merchandisers and model makers!
This year has been a scramble uphill with scraped knees to get on top of the challenges that came with Brexit and Covid-19. We may not have been able to put many new items into creation, but we hope you enjoy those that we do have to offer! Somehow we have managed to release a new Luggage T-Shirt, Anoia and Gimlet’s Delicatessen Tea towels, Death & Company Puzzle and print . . . not to mention Discworld Stamps. There will even be ‘flaming hot’ and ‘epic’ new jigsaw puzzles coming VERY soon!
Our proudest pandemic achievement however is the Nac Mac Feegle’s Big Wee Alphabet Book, created by our own Ian Mitchell and collaborator David Wyatt.We’ve wanted to create another Discworld publication for some time now, and the Big Wee Alphabet Book is our first effort since The Compleat Discworld Atlas – our final collaboration with Terry – released the year he died in 2015. We are very thankful to Narrativia for enabling and supporting the Big Wee ABC book for Big Jobs and Wee Scunners alike!
After a couple of very challenging years, Terry’s publication anniversary has brought us a year full of joy and reasons to be cheerful. The year promises to be even more jubilant yet, as we also have the Sky Cinema adaptation of The Amazing Maurice to look forward to this Hogswatch along with numerous spin-off book releases and merchandise, and the return of the Discworld Calendar which was sadly absent in 2022. Praise be to Terry’s own publishing house Dunmanifestin, who took up the mantle to produce a beautiful calendar for 2023 with artwork by Paul Kidby!
Most notably, Terry’s biography A Life With Footnotes and Emporium Directors Reb and Ians’ second child are due to emerge in the same week, so it’s going to be a particularly special, and even busier time here at the Emporium as we head towards Hogswatch
. . . but what a time to celebrate our past and future as part of the Discworld family!
We hope you enjoy exploring our new home, and sharing the magic of Discworld with us as we continue to celebrate #50YearsofTerry!
Don’t forget to keep sharing our wares on the socials, and tag us @DiscworldEmporium on Facebook and Insta, and @DiscworldShoppe on Twitter.
THE TURTLE MOVES!
The new year has well and truly begun and a fresh decade has dawned. Terry’s list of Discworld year names continues to give us humorous titles to mark the passage of time, and 2020 shall henceforth been known on the Disc and to us fans as THE YEAR OF THE CONDESCENDING CARP!
As we plunge head-first without a crash helmet into ‘interesting times’ let us wistfully glance back over our shoulder at what we got up to in The Year of the Incontrovertible Skunk we get too close to the Red Star…
Of course we’ve already enjoyed one apocalypse as 2019 began with bubbling anticipation for the adaptation of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s cult collaboration Good Omens!
First broadcast in May on Amazon Prime, Good Omens stuck faithfully and suitably quirkily to the beloved book and was a visual extravaganza bursting with comedic screen stars including the seraphic Michael Sheen as Aziriphale and the devilishly good David Tennant as Crowley. Good Omens has now already won the Comedy.co.uk award for Best TV Comedy Drama and Best Comedy Drama of the Year 2019!
A host of divine editions of Pratchett and Gaiman’s book and spinoff publications were released to accompany the series including the official Good Omens TV Companion, the Good Omens Script Book, BBC Radio Play and TV tie-in paperbacks along with the glorious Illustrated Good Omens with artwork by Paul Kidby!
2019 was a celebratory year for Discworld Stamps, as we reached our 15th year of ‘Flately’, as Terry so named the world of Discworld Stamp collecting! Nothing seemed more fitting than putting the profile of Sir Terry Pratchett on his own Stamp, the Penny Pratchett! We commissioned master line artist Brian Delf to create Terry’s portrait for this special issue which was available in a limited edition presentation sheet and first day cover.
There was of course a new collection of Definitives as designed by Moist Von Lipwig in Going Postal, plus offerings featuring the sublimely ridiculous architectural creations of B.S. Johnson. The major Guilds enjoyed sponsoring a series of stamps featuring their respective coats of arms, while Discworld deities Offler, Blind Io and Anoia joined our gods collection of Discworld Stamp issues illustrated by Matthew Green.
Other Ankh-Morpork establishments represented on stamps in 2019 included the Lady Sybil Free Hospital, The Sunshine Sanctuary for Sick Dragons and the New Ankh-Station from Terry Pratchett’s Raising Steam which graced the year’s coveted Five Dollar Blue Triangle.
We couldn’t commemorate fifteen years of Discworld Stamps and Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal without celebrating the Postmaster himself, so in August Moist Von Lipwig featured on his own five pence stamp illustrated by David Wyatt!
The year in stamps concluded with a traditional Hogswatch offering from the Ankh-Morpork Post Office, with a triptych of festive issues depicting the famous Grotto at Crumley’s Department Store from Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather. Each stamp featured on a beautiful whole sheet and on a first day cover complete with a sumptuously illustrated ticket entitling Collectors to sit on the Hogfather’s knee!
Along with a bevvy of Good Omens publications, there was a crop of new Pratchett book editions released last year including new paperbacks of Terry’s children’s books Dodger and Nation with bright and beautiful cover artwork by Amelia Fang author Laura Ellen Anderson. Snuff and Raising Steam were finally released in beautiful Discworld Collector’s Library Editions in November, thus completing the ‘adult’ series of this handsome collection of hardback Discworld books,
Discworld diaries of yore were compiled by Stephen Briggs into one beautiful hardback volume with revised, revamped and redesigned artwork by Paul Kidby to create The Ankh-Morpork Archive Volume I – a guidebook to Ankh-Morpork’s Guilds, institutions & environs as written by Stephen Briggs and Terry Pratchett in the years 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2007 respectively.
The official Discworld Diary had a change of identity in 2019 to become the Discworld Journal. Gone are the restraints of time and space in favour of a perennial jotter for your memos and musings, full of illustrations and quotes from favourite Discworld characters. The first such edition was the ‘Death and Friends’ Discworld Journal, compiled by us and illustrated by David Wyatt – ideal for jotting down your life story or ‘immortal’ prose!
The Discworld Calendar soon followed which was themed on Paul Kidby’s fantastically depicted Discworld Destinations. We also happily acquired stock of the official Terry Pratchett: Hisworld Exhibition Companion, the story of our favourite author, told through the objects and artefacts on display at the Terry Pratchett: HisWorld Exhibition in Salisbury 2017 – an everlasting exhibition for you to enjoy at home whether you were there or wanted to be!
There were stylish new Discworld items released last year, starting with our suitably dark Assassins’ Guild Alumni T-Shirt, followed by our most ambitious piece of Jewellery to date, the Discworld Necklace! This stunningly detailed and oh so elegant rendition of Great A’Tuin is double sided and available in sterling silver or plated in gold, gold gold!
Puzzle addicts were treated to TWO Discworld Jigsaw puzzles, featuring incredible illustrations of The Mended Drum and Granny Weatherwax’s Cottage respectively., each designed by us and illustrated by David Wyatt. Both images are also available to own as big and beautiful art prints. Halloween saw the release of more bewitching wares with our ‘Blessings Be Upon This House’ lean-print featuring Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax, also by the talented Mr Wyatt.
One of our favourite items to conclude the year’s offerings was the Ankh-Morpork City Watch Badge – Special Constable’s Edition. Sculpted by master jeweller Bethan Williams and forged by one of the UK’s oldest pewter companies A. E. Williams established in 1779, this magnificent Watch badge is a truly authentic prop-quality replica of a badge that has seen years of noble service under Commander Sam Vimes, Angua, Carrot & co. on the mean streets of Ankh-Morpork! – Fabricati Diem Punc!
Speaking of the Watch, the cast for the forthcoming adaption of Terry’s City Watch books by BBC Studios for BBC AMERICA was revealed last year. It has become clear that the production is very much ‘inspired by’ rather than ‘based on’ the original texts, but the proof is in the ‘watching’ and we truly hope that this eight-part comic thriller written by Simon Allen will still be a lot of fun.
Nonetheless the Watch has certainly made waves in the fan community with its bold stylings and deviations from the source material, so for the concerned and confused we heartily recommend reading an article from our mates at Discworld Monthly which charts a fulsome history of this adaptation…
Regardless, there couldn’t be a better time to get reacquainted with the watch we all know and love, so we’ve been working on our own faithful depiction for a new puzzle and print due to launch this year. In the meantime, go and pick up a Pratchett to read, or treat yourself to a new edition of Guards! Guards! Men at Arms, Feet of Clay, Jingo, Night Watch, Thud!, The Fifth Elephant or Snuff!
AAAANNND FINALLY… Perhaps the best new arrival of 2019 came in the form of a small human! Ian and Reb welcomed their first child to the world in June, and we’re all rather smitten with our new mascot!
Being such a tiny team, this little charmer has meant that we’ve been a bit understaffed and overstretched for a while, so we praise the gods for our fabulous staff for keeping the cogs turning and thank you all for your support and understanding in what was a most exciting and exhausting year!
The mystic thingies have been wossnamed, and the omens are good! The year known to us as 2019 has been officially dubbed…THE YEAR OF THE INCONTROVERTIBLE SKUNK!
As we begin a year that will bring us the long-anticipated adaptation of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s apocalyptic collaboration Good Omens, we thought we’d glance backwards before the world ends at what we got up to in the year of the Justifiably Defensive Lobster…
2018 began with an ending. The closure of the award-winning Terry Pratchett: Hisworld Exhibition in Salisbury marked an incredibly successful, yet suitably humble, celebration of our favourite author. Tens of thousands of Terry Pratchett fans descended on Salisbury Museum for a glimpse into his life behind the books with exhibits of private memorabilia and paintings providing an intimate portrait of the man in the hat.
We were privileged to have been a part of the exhibition’s creation, providing notepaper from the Ankh-Morpork Post Office for the memory wall, designs for coat hooks, and items of memorabilia on display.
Discworld Stamps gave us new issues from exotic lands including Tsort, Djelbeybi, Borogravia, Uberwald, Hersheba, Quirm and the Chalk, The City Watch were also celebrated with the Pseudopolis Yard Watch House 4p.
Our Hogswatch offerings celebrated the theme of ‘Letters to the Hogfather’, comprising two heartwarming 2p issues featuring a little match girl and young dwarf penning their Hogswatch wishlists, along with a jolly 5p issue featuring the Hogfather himself were and were illustrated by our collaborator extraordinaire David Wyatt.
Closer to home the Ankh-Morpork Post Office introduced a beautiful set of stamps from the Unseen University. The Farthing, Penny and Penny Farthing issues feature beautiful linework illustrations of Ridcully, UU Coat of Arms, and the famous statue of Alberto Malich by the talented new guest artist Matthew Green. Matthew’s artwork can also be seen gracing the menu of two Michelin Star restaurant L’Enclume in Cumbria, a testament to our fine taste in illustrators!
In June we visited the Chalke Valley History Festival in Terry’s home village Broadchalke, where Paul Kidby’s lifesize rendition of Evil Harry Dread’s Shed of Doom lead to a recreation of Terry’s office and various Kidby artworks. The shed provided a fitting tribute to a local hero at a festival held in Terry’s back garden with talks by Rob Wilkins.
Festival season continued Discworld-style with our bestselling T-Shirt featuring The Band With Rocks in from Terry Pratchett’s Soul Music. This was rocked by Terry Pratchett fans all over the globe at music with rocks in festivals, while our Mended Drum shirt also proved a smash hit at festival bars and pub gardens throughout the summer! Thanks to those who shared pics of yourselves rocking your Discworld tees!
August saw the Discworld Emporium’s travelling shop hit the road to attend the International Discworld Convention in Warwick, where Ian, Bernard and Reb flogged our wares and took part in panels and talks that explored such topics as the origins of the Emporium, reminiscences of our time with Terry Pratchett, and our Discworld creations past and present. It was a pleasure to celebrate Discworld with friends old and new, and revel in the joy that Terry Pratchett’s books brings us all. We were also treated to sneak peeks of Good Omens and the fan-made Troll Bridge along with a script reading of the forthcoming Watch series for BBC America by writer Simon Allen ahead of its official public announcement in October.
At the end of November, our beloved Discworld turned thirty-five. This anniversary coincided with ‘The Gathering of Loonies’, an informal assemblage of fans held in Wincanton to kick off the festive season on what would have been (in Terry’s lifetime) our annual Hogswatch celebration. It was very special to spend Discworld’s Birthday with good friends, many in glorious Discworld costumes and many of whom have been making an annual pilgrimage to Wincanton since our doors first opened.
The Johnny Maxwell trilogy was released Bright new paperbacks editions with cover artwork by Mark Beech who’s illustration also graces the paperback of Father Christmas’s Fake Beard -the third collection of Terry’s short stories – released in October. The Amazing Maurice also had a revamp by Laura Ellen Anderson with a new characterful cover to tie in with her Tiffany Aching paperbacks.
Our fourth official Discworld Diary was published in August by Victor Gollancz. For The Discworld Quiz Diary 2019 we trawled our archive of Discworld trivia to compile a Discworld Quiz that would satisfy both newbies and old hats alike! Tested by hardcore Pratchett aficionados, the Discworld Diary was shortly joined by the Discworld Calendar, full of imagery from Paul Kidby’s compendium of illustrations the Discworld Imaginarium!
The first product of the year was our bronze-edition Luggage figurine (and trinket box!), soon followed by our cast of 1000’s teatowel bearing the names of as many Discworld characters as we could squeeze onto a small sheet of cotton. In March our simultaneously adorable and terrifying Luggage plushy scampered onto the scene, proving a best-selling companion for Discworld fans young and old! The Luggage also ran riot over our new Discworld Socks, released alongside our Feegle Feet and Assassins’ Guild designs. The Assassins were also represented this year by our suave and sophisticated cufflinks – for style to die for!
Books are the heart, soul and raison d’etre of the Discworld Emporium, so it was long overdue that we introduced bookmarks to our range! Fate and the lady have conspired to bring us the talents of David Wyatt, who illustrated two sets of Discworld characters for our official Discworld ‘Ookmarks’- for books with even more character! A set of ten traditional ‘Ookplates’ are also available to lay claim to your precious Terry Pratchett library!
There was a puzzling addition to our range in September when Death’s Study was brought to ‘life’ for our third fiendishly difficult jigsaw puzzle. The Reaper man’s inner sanctum joined the Unseen University’s Great Library in our range of Discworld jigsaw puzzles illustrated by David Wyatt, designed to include a host of hidden details from Terry’s books. With such a stunning image, we just had to make an additional art print for those who prefer their artwork in one piece!
Death also made an appearance as our latest Discworld figurine produced in our signature bronze finish, while the release of our Tiffany Aching Snowflake neckace and Hogswatch stocking were a fittingly festive finale to our range of Discworld merchandise for 2018!
The year of the Justifiably defensive lobster was another year of reaching previously unchartered territories with the word of Sir Terry Pratchett and our Discworld wares, and a year of exciting announcements about forthcoming televisual extravaganzas!
Rather fitting for a production full of zombies, vampires and werewolves, the official press announcement that the long-anticipated City Watch series has been given the green light arrived on Halloween! The Watch will be adapted from Terry’s books by BBC Studios for BBC AMERICA, the company behind Killing Eve the current Doctor WHO as an eight part comic thriller Co-produced with Narrativia and written by Simon Allen.
Of course we are all looking forward to the end of the world this year, and back in July Amazon Prime Video gave us a behind-the-scenes sneak peak of Good Omens first shown at San Diego Comic Con, where Frances McDormand was announced as the “Voice of God” on stage by Neil Gaiman. Frances joins a stellar cast including David Tennant as the demon Crowley, Michael Sheen as the angel Aziraphale and Jon Hamm as the angel Gabriel for 2019’s most hotly anticipated apocalypse! The star-studded cast also includes actors Anna Maxwell Martin, Josie Lawrence, Jack Whitehall, Miranda Richardson, Reece Shearsmith, Nicholas Parsons, Derek Jacobi, Steve Pemberton and Mark Gatiss.
As we trundle forth into the year of the Incontrovertible Skunk we would like to thank you for your continued support and for being the best patrons a little literary shop could ask for! We hope the year ahead is full of magic, and remember… in a world gone completely Bursar we can always read a Pratchett!
THE TURTLE MOVES!
Bernard had already blazed a trail for fantasy sculpture with renditions of dragons and incredible architecture, but ‘The Cunning Artificer’, as Terry Pratchett had named him, decided to reach new heights (certainly as far as the Tower of Art was concerned), with the largest scale model from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld and most complicated piece of Discworld merchandise in the multiverse. Ever. This epic sculpture would create the definitive picture of Unseen University, and would become a paper model nearly ten years later when it was illustrated for the Unseen University Cut-Out book in 2006. Produced in only a short number it is now a rare and sought-after beast. In this blog, Bernard takes us through the creation of the ultimate piece of Unreal Estate, from an idea planted by Terry Pratchett, to the madness and magic of the ‘Unreal’ thing…
“The Unseen University started life on Terry Pratchett’s sitting room carpet. It was Christmas in 1996 and Isobel and I were staying in Broad Chalke with Terry and Lyn. I had been commissioned by an American company to design and sculpt a large imposing fantasy castle for their collection. This castle, the largest piece of fantasy sculpture I had ever undertaken, combined my loves of story-telling and architectural sculpture. The piece was called the ‘Grail Castle’ and was full of detail that led the eye from rocky base through archways of stone up long stairways and on up to domed towers. It was an absolute bugger to cast, and the painting was a challenge as well. I seem to remember something like ten were made to test the mould and trial various paint finishes. It was one of these that Isobel and I took with us from our then home in Suffolk to show Terry in Broad Chalke that Christmas. As Isobel unpacked several large boxes Terry had her arrange the various components on the carpet and then to our surprise he got down on the floor beside it. He looked at it from every angle, above, below and alongside. Getting to his feet he picked it up and put it on a nearby table, again he looked, not saying a word. You can imagine my feelings, Terry was not one to flannel or over enthuse; he told you just what he thought. No wrapping words up with ribbons of flattery or slip-sliding criticism in with bland mutterings. It turned out that he really liked it and it found a place in their home, which I considered a real privilege then as now.
As we sat and worked our way through the biggest collection of spirits outside the Society of Psychic Research or indeed the Licensed Victuallers Association’s private vaults we talked of sealing wax and string, the meaning of life and what would that bottle of funny sticky green stuff taste like. Then Terry suggested I might like to have a go at creating the Unseen University, if I thought I could, if I had the time. I was gobsmacked, pleased, worried and in receipt of the best Christmas present I had ever had. On the back of a serviette with holly on – well it was Christmas – he drew up some ideas he had following a plan described by the esteemed Mr Stephen Briggs in the Discworld Companion. This continued over breakfast the next morning and when eventually we left for the long journey back to Suffolk I had his blessing and encouragement to start designing what would be the most challenging and involved piece of architectural sculpting I would ever do…
The size of the project meant that each part of Unseen University was produced as a separate unit and, as each section was designed and sculpted, the wax was transported to Terry for his approval. The look of the thing was partly inspired by Brasenose College, Oxford, with a touch of Nuffield perhaps. At Terry’s suggestion I consulted with the venerable Briggsy who not only knew Oxford like the back of his hand but had also drawn the original doorway for the UU. With his description, a pile of architectural reference books and with Brasenose as reasonable starting points, from there on in it was seeing the pictures that Terry drew in my imagination with his words that built the UU. And what clever words they are.
Of course a Watch houses or guild building is one thing, but the creation of Ankh-Morpork’s multidimensional magical university campus presents somewhat unique engineering challenges! With the ‘real’ Tower of Art being a lofty 800ft, it was made plain to me that the Tower would have to be as was practical. If I kept to the scale I normally worked at it would need to be eight foot high to be in proportion with the rest of the building! It couldn’t be that, but even so it had to tower above the rest, so the ancient crumbling tower stands at a still impressive 60cm tall!
The Unseen University sculpture was launched for pre-sale at a Clarecraft Event in the summer of 1997. It was a hot sunny day and we sat at a small table in an old farm building where I was working on the slightly melting wax model of the Tower of Art and Isobel had a large red book for people to reserve their editions. Terry signed up for Number 1 with a whopping great signature (in red pen no less), and that weekend more than 100 people put their names down. At the time we took no money, only a commitment to buy. Those who subscribed to what later became known as ‘The Cunning Artificer’s Very Friendly Society’ probably still rue the day. Many of our past pieces were created in short editions of 100-200, partly because demand for Discworld-related ephemera was fairly limited back in the days of old-fashioned mail order, but mostly because of the sheer complexity of creating the things… not to mention shipping them! If we were to produce something similar today, it would probably be just as rare.
In the end Discworld’s Unseen University took over a year to create. There were seven sections which dove-tailed together to create one of the most remarkable pieces of literary merchandise in fantasy franchise history! The final great edifice comprises the clock tower, Great Hall, Library, High Energy Magic Building (home of Hex), observatory, Tower of Art, various accommodations and service quarters, and the boat house. When laid out according to the accompanying floor-plan, the complete model takes up about a meter square, and weighs almost as much as I do! Each of the seven sections were released to subscribers in instalments, with one master mould-maker to cast and fettle each piece by hand, and one exceptionally patient painter to painstakingly bring each piece of the UU to life with a paintbrush!
If sculpting Rincewind was the beginning for me in making little bits of Discworld then the Unseen University was my coming of age. I went on to create two Watch Houses – Treacle Mine Road and Pseudopolis Yard; Guild buildings including those of the Seamstresses, Assassins, Fools and Thieves; Lancre Castle; Don’tgonearthe Castle; Granny Weatherwax’s Cottage; The Thunderer printing press from The Truth; the Unseen University’s Mighty Organ (a Bloody Stupid Johnson creation) and all manner of ‘stuff’ that had at its heart the words of Terry Pratchett and his books. A craftsman reaches his peak when the skill of his hands matches his imagination. I had the unique privilege to work directly from Terry’s imagination and bring my skills to make just some of his imaginings real enough to touch.
On my desk is a small wooden box; it was made by my father when he was at school. In it are some of the small wooden and metal tools which I carved years ago when I started the Unseen University. These tools created the bricks and mortar, windows and roof tiles of most of the Discworld Buildings I created and they represent the thousands of hours I spent having more fun than a man should when earning a living. Tiny bits of wood and brass, bits of old clock, rubbish to almost everyone but me, but I treasure them as I do the memory of a remarkable man and very close friend who lay on a carpet and had a brilliant idea.”
With thanks to Steve James AKA Steeljam for allowing us to use his marvellous iconographs!
As decreed by the arbiters of Discworld, 2018 shall forever be known as The Year of The Justifiably Defensive Lobster. And so, with the year of the Backwards Facing Artichoke firmly behind us, it’s time to glance back over our shoulder to reminisce about a year that brought us many celebrations of our favourite author, and what a Terry-fic year it was!
The year began with confirmation that Terry and Neil Gaiman’s apolcalyptic collaboration Good Omens was to become a six-part series for Amazon and the BBC, due to air in 2019. News of Amazon and BBC Studios’ adaptation was tantalisingly teased throughout the year with casting revealed to boast a ‘heavenly’ swathe of acting talent. We can look forward to David Tennant playing Crowley, Michael Sheen as Aziraphale, Josie Long as Agnes Nutter, Jon Hamm as Gabriel, and Jack Whitehall as Newt, with fellow cast members including Adria Arjona, Miranda Richardson, Reece Shearsmith and Anna Maxwell Martin. Filming got underway in the Autumn with executive producers Rob Wilkins and Neil Gaiman providing behind-the-scenes sneak peeks from their via their Twitter feeds @TerryandRob and @NeilHimself.
In Febuary Terry was brought back by Charlie Russell and the BBC in a unique and tear-jerking exploration into the life and times of our favourite author. Terry Pratchett: Back in Black, was ‘the fourth instalment in the Terry Pratchett documentary trilogy’ and was a unique farewell presented by Terry himself through the uncannily accurate acting skills of Paul Kaye and with poignant unseen footage recorded with Terry prior to his walk with Death.
Terry also became the star of his own exhibition when Terry Pratchett: Hisworld opened at Salisbury Museum in September. Curated by finds officer Richard Henry, aided and abetted by Rob Wilkins, Paul Kidby, Rhianna Pratchett and the estate of Terry Pratchett to mention but a few, this powerful literary exhibit was a triumph of A’Tuin-like proportions. Terry’s self-depreciating nature, creativity, sense of fun and love of learning shone brightly as the author himself guided visitors around the exhibits in his own words via quotes gleaned from the may interviews, writings and recordings he made over the years.
Expertly, sensitively and humorously curated, Hisworld was truly the highlight of our year living and breathing Discworld – hat a celebration of the man in the Hat! Closes Sunday January 14th.
2017 also saw a flurry of Pratchett publications with host of special editions and new titles. The Tiffany Aching series enjoyed two new style treatments, with the release of the gorgeous Paul Kidby-embellished Gift Edition hardbacks and bright new paperbacks illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson. Raising Steam finally became available for collectors of the black cover paperbacks, and a re-release of The Illustrated Eric united Josh Kidby and Pratchett’s imaginations on the page once again. The Discworld Collector’s Library hardbacks were brought closer to completion with the publication of Thief of Time, Night Watch, Monstrous Regiment and Going Postal, our bestselling books of the year!
Father Christmas’s Fake Beard, a festive collection of short stories from Terry’s time as a newspaper journalist, was unleashed in two glorious hardback editions in October, while The Discworld Imaginarium, Paul Kidby’s epic compendium of illustration and artistry provided a fitting finale to a year of Terry with the entire cast of Discworld brought to life with nib and brush in one spectacular coffee-table tome.
Of course, books are at the heart of the Discworld Emporium and we have been overwhelmed by your support in choosing to purchase Terrys work from us. While it’s hard for a small booksellers to compete with larger retailers, we are so very lucky humbled to have such a loyal booklovers amongst our customers. You can be sure that we’ll continue to ensure that every book is picked and packaged with care and reverance!
Some of our favourite Discworld Stamps emerged in the year of the Backwards Facing Artichoke (of course we may be a smidge biased). Our chief designer Ian spearheaded a wide variety of designs celebrating a variety of locations and concepts from around the Disc, with collaborations from with Pratchett book illustrators & Emporium guest artists David Wyatt and Peter Dennis. The year kicked off with the traditional annual launch of the Ankh-Morpork Definitives, those iconic stamps created by Moist Von Lipwig in the pages of Going Postal comprising the Halfpenny Post Office, Penny Patrician, 2p Coat of Arms, 5 and 10p Morporkias, $1 Tower of Art and 50p Cabbage Field. There followed (in no particular order) issues from the Seamstresses’ and Thieves’ Guilds, from Klatch, Big Cabbage, Octarine Grass Country, Fourecks (XXXX), and from the the Agatean Empire with a stunning 2 Rhinu stamp featuring The Last Emperor Ghengiz Cohen.
Special super-limited releases for 2017 included the Fools’ Guild Hall of Faces sheet, Discworld Stamps 13th Birthday minisheet, the spectacular Unseen University Octogram, and of course our Hogswatch issues featuring the Hogfather and his porcine-powered sleigh. We also released 12 editions of our Little Brown Envelope, a traditional ‘lucky dip’ assortment of Discworld Stamps, each themed to introduce news issues.
To find out more about Diswcworld Stamps and learn how Going Postal began a philatelic phenomenon visit our History of Discworld Stamps!
Other Discworld merchandise releases from the Emporium included our Death of Rats and Librarian figurines, beermats from the mended Drum & fellow Discworld drinking dens, Turtle Moves Bumper Sticker and Death (with cat) Discworld plush – the Grim Reaper has never been so cuddly!
2017’s apparel collection introduced the wonderfully naughty Hedgehog Song Book Bag, and our Death of Rats and ‘I Could Murder A Curry’ T-Shirts which feature original artwork created exclusively for us by Joe Mclaren – the man behind the Discworld Collector’s Library Edition book covers. The bestselling addition to our clothing range was undoubtedly our Discworld socks featuring A’Tuin, L-Space and Death motifs – Polly Perks would be proud!
The Emporium also collaborated with Joe to create a fabulous set of Discworld Greeting Cards with designs including Dibbler, the Lancre Witches, Death & Death of Rats, the Hogfather, Librarian and Errol the swamp dragon!
Our most ambitious project of the year was our depiction of the Great Library at Unseen University for our latest Discworld Jigsaw puzzle and spectacular art print. Having fallen in love with the Librarian all over again during the creation of our figurine, we teamed up with David Wyatt to bring the UU’s multidimensional book haven to life, which you can read about in our previous blog post HERE.
2017 was our busiest year for online orders and visitors to our ‘real’ shop (or should that be ‘unreal’). We shipped books and Discworld goodies to Pratchett fans in previously uncharted territories including Chile, Peru, Serbia, Malta, Hawaii, South Korea, HongKong, Dubai and Qatar. It was also a bumper year for Discworld conventions, with the North American, Australian, Irish and German Discworld conventions providing international celebrations of all things Terry Pratchett. Our bonkersly busy year meant that we were unable to take our travelling shop on the road to peddle our wares, but we were able to partake via video link and recorded message and Emporium founders Bernard and Isobel Pearson flew to Cork to enjoy IDWCon as guests of honour. We look forware to making up for our absence this August at the Uk Discworld Convention in Warwick.
And so, as we hurtle full steam into the Year of the Justifiably Defensive Lobster, we would like to thank you for your kind custom and support throughout 2017 and for helping us to keep the turtle moving – you really are the best customers a little literary shop could ask for! We are especially grateful to those who braved the milage to make the Pratchett Pilgrimmage to the Emporium itself. The Hisworld exhibition in Salisbury has brought many fresh faces to Wincanton and introduced us to many new Discworld devotees with wonderful anecdotes and tales of the the man in the hat to treasure. We hope to meet many more of you in the year ahead.
Here’s wishing you all the best & many happy Pratchett reads for 2018, may The Lady smile upon us all!