Diana Wynne Jones Biography

Biography (Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Diana Wynne Jones was born on August 16, 1934, in London, England. Her parents, who were educators, devoted themselves to their work rather than to their three daughters. For some reason, the girls' father was reluctant to spend money on books for his children. As a result, Diana took it upon herself to write the stories that she and her younger sisters craved. She created two long, elaborate tales to read aloud to her sisters. Later, Jones said that this early practice helped instill the confidence to be a novelist, because "you must know you can finish a book."

For long years after her adolescence, Jones did not write any fiction. She got a university degree (from St Ann's College, Oxford), married, and had three sons. She wanted her sons to have the good books she had missed out on, but she found that there were not too many books available at that time that had the humorous, unpredictable spirit her sons liked best. So she began to write her own books. In 1973 she published her first children's book, Wilkins' Tooth, published a year later in the U.S. as Witch's Business. And she was off and running. A prolific author who never seems to lack for inspiration, Jones has sometimes published two or more books a year. Her novels have won many awards, including England's Guardian Award for Charmed Life.

Unlike many writers who develop one type or pattern of book and continue to write in the same vein, Jones has created...

(The entire section is 413 words.)

Diana Wynne Jones Biography (Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Diana Wynne Jones was born on August 16,1934, in London, England. She had an unusual and unstable childhood that greatly influenced her writing career. When Jones was five, her parents undertook the first of several dislocations because of the outbreak of World War II. She spent some months with her grandparents in Wales. They spoke in rolling paragraphs and syllables that Jones could not understand. She noted later that these sounds remained to flow like music in her mind while she wrote.

By 1943 Jones resided in a rural Essex village, where her parents managed a young adult conference/cultural center and school. The parents deliberately resided in the main residence apart from Jones and her two younger sisters, whom they housed neglectfully in an uncomfortable hut. The three girls, all avid readers, could never get enough books. Their father kept children's novels by Arthur Ransome locked away and allowed his daughters to have only one each Christmas. By the time she was fourteen, Jones wrote her own stories to read aloud to her sisters.

In 1953 Jones went to St. Ann's College, Oxford. There she was inspired by the lectures of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. After her marriage in 1956 to English scholar and professor John Burrow, Jones took up writing again. She decided that her three sons needed good books to read, and she wanted to write an exciting and perceptive kind. She rejected realistic treatments as too painful for young readers....

(The entire section is 439 words.)

Diana Wynne Jones Biography (Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Diana Wynne Jones was born on August 16, 1934, in London, England. She has described her childhood as unusual and disorganized, and her mature writing developed from this perspective. When she was five, her parents undertook the first of several dislocations because of the outbreak of World War II. Jones spent some months with her grandparents in Wales where she heard incomprehensible, rolling Welsh syllables and paragraphs she could never forget. She has said that she listens to them when she is writing, like a flow of music in her mind.

Her parents, by 1943, settled the family in a rural Essex village to manage a young adult conference/cultural center and school there. They chose to live in the main residence apart from Jones and their two younger daughters, whom they housed neglectfully in an uncomfortable hut. The three sisters, as avid readers, could never get enough books. Her father kept children's novels by Arthur Ransome locked away, and he presented his daughters with just one each Christmas. This probably encouraged Jones to develop her storytelling skills because, by the time she was fourteen, she wrote her own narratives to read aloud to her sisters.

Jones went to St. Ann's College, Oxford in 1953, and she found the lectures by C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien inspirational. After her marriage in 1956 to English scholar and professor John Burrow, Jones took up writing again. She felt that her three sons needed good books to read,...

(The entire section is 472 words.)

Diana Wynne Jones Biography (Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Diana Wynne Jones had a childhood that influenced her decision to write fantasy. She was born on August 16, 1934, in London, England. Her parents, educators Richard and Marjorie Jackson Aneurin, began relocating her at the outbreak of World War II. To five-year-old Jones, it seemed that the world had gone mad. She was puzzled by the language spoken by her Welsh grandparents, with whom she stayed for months.

In one house her family occupied, Jones erased some papers in an attic and was surprised when she was punished. She had innocently destroyed drawings by the artist John Ruskin. The dwarf Ruskin in Year of the Griffin may be named for the incident.

By 1943, Jones's parents settled in rural Essex to manage a kind of conference center and school. The nearby villagers seemed strange to Jones. In addition, her parents stayed in separate quarters. They neglectfully housed Jones and her two younger sisters in an uncomfortable hut. The three sisters, all avid readers, went book-hungry. Their father kept Ransome books locked away and gave them only one a year. Jones started writing herself, and by her early teens she entertained her sisters with her stories.

In 1953, Jones went to St. Anne's College, Oxford. There she attended lectures by fantasy writers C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, who inspired her. In 1956, she married English professor John Burrow and in time resided in Bristol, which she thought was a fantasy city. Jones...

(The entire section is 445 words.)

Diana Wynne Jones Biography (Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Diana Wynne Jones was born on August 16, 1934, in London, England. Her philosophy of writing for young people developed from the unpleasantness of her childhood. Besides being displaced several times after 1939 because of the onset of World War II, Jones was forced to endure parental neglect. By 1943, when her parents settled in rural Essex to manage a conference/ cultural center, they chose to reside apart from their three daughters. The girls were housed in an uncomfortable two-room hut and often had to go without reading because their father refused to supply enough books. Jones turned to writing her own stories.

After she was married to university professor John Burrow, Jones took up writing because she could not find enough good children's books for their three sons. As a graduate of St. Anne's College, Oxford, she retained strong impressions of the fantasy writers C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, who taught there. Deciding that realistic writing could be painful to read, she concluded that writing fantasy was the best way to provide the kind of books she herself was deprived of as a child. She wanted books to be highly imaginative and humorous, as well as to help young readers cope with their own problems, including difficult adults.

Jones has published adult novels (Changeover, 1970; A Sudden Wild Magic, 1992) but has concentrated primarily on the younger reader since her first children's book appeared in 1973. Besides...

(The entire section is 324 words.)

Diana Wynne Jones Biography (Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Diana Wynne Jones was born in London, England, in 1934, the daughter of educators. She has written that her relationship with her parents was a troubled one: They were dedicated to their careers, and Diana and her two sisters received little support or encouragement from them.

Growing up during World War II was also difficult for Jones, who was intermittently sent out of London to avoid the bombings, but who nonetheless developed a keen sense of the dangers of war. Jones wrote, "When the siren sounded at night, we went to the ground floor where we sat and listened to the blunt bang and sharp yammer of gunfire and bombs whistle as they fell, or watched searchlights rhythmically ruling lines in the sky." She recalls that amid all that, her grandmother provided a welcome relief from the worries of the war and from her alienating home life. "Granny was truly marvelous, five feet of Yorkshire common sense, love, and superstition."

Jones realized at the age of eight that she wanted to be a writer. Although she "suffered from perpetual book starvation," she read as many books as she could find, and by the time she was fourteen she had written two books of her own. In 1956 she received her bachelor's degree from St. Anne's College at Oxford, where she had attended lectures by authors C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. Later that year she married John Burrow, with whom she had three sons.

It was after the birth of her sons that Jones...

(The entire section is 499 words.)

Diana Wynne Jones Biography (Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Diana Wynne Jones was born on August 16, 1934, in London, England, to parents who were both educators. Twenty-two years later, in 1956, she received a Bachelor's degree from St. Anne's College, Oxford and married John A. Burrow, a university professor. Jones began writing as a child so that she and her sisters would have interesting, exciting, and entertaining material to read; this resourceful and inventive attitude towards literature and its production is still evident in her work today. Indeed, the importance of the family and its relationships is a central concern in early works like The Ogre Downstairs and Eight Days of Luke, both of which examine from a child's perspective dysfunctional familial environments....

(The entire section is 322 words.)