I was sad to learn yesterday that Diana Wynne Jones had died — I remember, last year, seeing reports that she was quite ill. The Guardian’s obituary gives a lovely account of her writing and her life, which had a pretty rocky start — see her own autobiographical essay (thanks to Zen Cho for the link). Diane Duane also memorializes her in a blog post, here. I didn’t have a deep personal connection to DWJ’s books as a child, though I remember enjoying Witch Week and Charmed Life very much. But I’ve been meaning to read Howl’s Moving Castle ever since seeing the Miyazaki version (which I love as its own story; I’ve heard that it’s very different from the book). Many of the posts I’ve seen this weekend also rhapsodize about Fire and Hemlock. If you’d like to give her books a try, her official website includes a list of all her works.
Speaking of fantasy stories set in the UK, you should read Zen’s: “起狮，行礼 (Rising Lion—The Lion Bows).”