Pratchett in 2010, with trademark hat. Photo: Getty Images
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Sir Terry Pratchett dies aged 66 after long fight with Alzheimer's

Much-loved author passes away.

The fantasy author Sir Terry Pratchett, famous for his long-running Discworld series of novels, has passed away at the age of 66, according to his publisher Transworld:

Terry passed away in his home, with his cat sleeping on his bed surrounded by his family on 12 March 2015. Diagnosed with PCA [Posterior cortical atrophy, or early-onset Alzheimer's] in 2007, he battled the progressive disease with his trademark determination and creativity, and continued to write. He completed his last book, a new Discworld novel, in the summer of 2014, before succumbing to the final stages of the disease.

We ask that the family are left undisturbed at this distressing time.

Pratchett's official Twitter account announced the news in a way instantly recognisable to many of his fans - as a very short story, starring himself and one of his most memorable characters:

(In the Discworld books, Death always speaks in block capitals.)

He is survived by his wife Lyn, his daughter Rhianna and his close friend Rob Wilkins. It had previously been announced that Rhianna would be continuing the Discworld series after his death.

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Cabinet audit: what does the appointment of Karen Bradley as Culture Secretary mean for policy?

The political and policy-based implications of the new Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

The most politically charged of the culture minister's responsibilities is overseeing the BBC, and to anyone who works for - or simply loves - the national broadcaster, Karen Bradley has one big point in her favour. She is not John Whittingdale. Her predecessor as culture secretary was notorious for his belief that the BBC was a wasteful, over-mighty organisation which needed to be curbed. And he would have had ample opportunity to do this: the BBC's Charter is due for renewal next year, and the licence fee is only fixed until 2017. 

In her previous job at the Home Office, Karen Bradley gained a reputation as a calm, low-key minister. It now seems likely that the charter renewal will be accomplished with fewer frothing editorials about "BBC bias" and more attention to the challenges facing the organisation as viewing patterns fragment and increasing numbers of viewers move online.

Of the rest of the job, the tourism part just got easier: with the pound so weak, it will be easier to attract visitors to Britain from abroad. And as for press regulation, there is no word strong enough to describe how long the grass is into which it has been kicked.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.