I think it would be remiss of me to go without mentioning the death of one of my favorite fantasy writers of the last century--Diana Wynne Jones, author of Howl's Moving Castle, the Chrestomanci series, and The Tough Guide to Fantasyland.
Jones died on the twenty-sixth of March from lung cancer, which she had been diagnosed with in 2009. I believe she left one book unfinished, but I'm not sure. I did read that they will be releasing her last book, as well as a book of interviews and what-not sometime later on in the year.
I hope I have made it abundantly clear as to my tastes in this blog, but in case I have not, let me say again, I am not a fan on modern literature, with few exceptions. Jones was one of those, being one of the few living authors I maintained a fondness for. Now, of course, she no longer fits into that category.
She was born in London in 1934, the child of two educators. She moved several times throughout her childhood, beginning with an evacuation to Whales right after the second World War was announced. She studied at St. Anne's College in Oxford, where she attended lectures by C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. She graduated in 1956, the same year she married John Burrow.
She was author of many different novels, spanning several decades and only ending at the time of her death. She won the Guardian Award in 1977 for her book Charmed Life, the first in the Chrestomanci series. Though, perhaps, she is most famous for her novel Howl's Moving Castle, which was made into an animated film by the brilliant Hayao Miyazaki, though it was a loose translation.
Her influence on fantasy can be seen in many of the writers who came after, most notably J.K. Rowling and Neil Gaiman.
At times like these many people like to say the literary community has suffered a great loss, but I feel differently. Jones gave us many wonderful novels and while she will be missed, she led a very accomplished life. While the fantasy community might not be better for the loss, I feel it would almost be a discredit to act as if her death was a tremendous blow. Rather than focus on what she could've accomplished had she lived longer, I think it would be more to our benefit to focus on her vast achievements. I do believe, however, that the fantasy community is sorely lacking in writers of such a caliber.
I highly recommend anyone who reads this that has not read Jones' works to go out and find some. She is extremely enjoyable. While not my favorite author by any means, she never disappointed. I'm looking forward to reading more of her works next year.