Diana Wynne Jones

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Diana Wynne Jones 1934–

English novelist and playwright.

Jones weaves contemporary themes into fantastic worlds, often creating a universe which seems familiar but also detached because of magical qualities. Like J.R.R. Tolkien, Jones is praised for her ability to make imagined worlds seem as real as the world outside one's own window.

Jones's protagonists are generally youngsters living in confused family or societal situations who discover and utilize magic to relieve tense conditions. The way in which a character responds to magic reflects that character's personality, and magic often becomes a means to self-discovery and maturity. Jones's medieval-like fantasy worlds, Dalemark and Caprona, are filled with enchanted animals, witches, legendary gods, or fairy people, as well as magical instruments or magic coats. Though her worlds are somewhat obscure, Jones always manages to say something relevant about contemporary life.

Although some critics feel that the use of magic in Jones's stories provides too easy an escape for her troubled protagonists, most critics agree that her works are entertaining and effectively project positive values. Critics praise her use of comic action which allows her to avoid the problems that plague other fantasy writers, such as excessive gimmickry, symbolizing, mythologizing, or moralizing. In 1977 Jones won the Guardian Award for Charmed Life.

(See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 49-52; Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, Vol. 4; and Something about the Author, Vol. 9.)

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Cathy S. Coyle