A Stroke of the Pen

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A Stroke of the Pen
A Stroke of the Pen cover art by Michaela Alcaino.
First edition standard cover of A Stroke of the Pen.
AuthorTerry Pratchett
Cover artistMichaela Alcaino
Release number
GenreScience fiction and fantasy
Publication date
ISBN978-0-857-52963-3 First edition
Preceded byA Slip of the Keyboard 
More a continuation of the Children’s Anthology series

A Stroke of the Pen is a collection of early children's stories in the vein of those collected in Dragons at Crumbling Castle, The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner, Father Christmas's Fake Beard or The Time-travelling Caveman. These stories, however, were “lost” - they were written by Pratchett under the pseudonyms Patrick Kearns and Uncle Jim for the Western Daily Press and Bucks Free Press newspapers between 1970 and 1984, and not known to his publisher and agent Colin Smythe. Some of them aren’t really “new” stories, but revisions of earlier ones. Pratchett only had access to the earlier versions, which he revised again for inclusion in the first four collections of his early stories. A Stroke of the Pen features a foreword by Neil Gaiman, an introduction by Colin Smythe, an account by Pat and Jan Harkin of their quest to find “The Quest for the Keys” after a 2022 tip-off to Colin Smythe from a fan, and a detailed list of sources for all the stories.


Unearthed gems from the pen of Sir Terry Pratchett, one of the world’s best-loved storytellers.

A truly unmissable collection of twenty rediscovered stories, written under a pseudonym in the 1970s and 80s by the award award-winning and bestselling author of the phenomenal Discworld series. These early tales hint at the worlds Terry would go on to create, containing all his trademark wit, satirical wisdom and fantastic imagination.

Meet Og the inventor, the first caveman to cultivate fire, as he discovers the highs and lows of progress; haunt the Ministry of Nuisances with the defiant evicted ghosts of Pilgarlic Towers; visit Blackbury, a small market town with weird weather and an otherworldly visitor; and go on a dangerous quest through time and space with hero Kron, which begins in the ancient city of Morpork...

A must-have collection for fans of all ages.


Foreword by Neil Gaiman.
Introduction by Colin Smythe.


  • “How It All Began...”
  • “The Fossil Beach”
  • “The Real Wild West”
  • “How Scrooge Saw the Spectral Light (Ho! Ho! Ho!) and Went Happily Back to Humbug”
  • “Wanted: A Fat, Jolly Man with a Red Woolly Hat”
  • “A Partridge in a Post Box”
  • “The New Father Christmas”
  • “The Great Blackbury Pie” (also published as “The Blackbury Pie”)
  • “How Good King Wenceslas Went Pop for the DJ’s Feast of Stephen”
  • “Dragon Quest” (also published as “Dragons at Crumbling Castle”)
  • “The Gnomes from Home”
  • “From the Horse’s Mouth” (also published as “Johnno, the Talking Horse”)
  • “Blackburn Weather”
  • “The Blackbury Jungle”
  • “The Haunted Steamroller”
  • “The Money Tree”
  • “The Blackbury Thing”
  • “Mr Brown’s Holiday Accident”
  • “The Quest for the Keys”

Back matter

The Quest for The Quest for the Keys, by Pat and Jan Harkin
Text Acknowledgements

Podcast episodes

Major appearances

These are episodes primarily devoted to discussing the book as a whole. See pages for individual stories for episodes that focus on them.

Date Show Episode External link
2023-10-06 The Truth Shall Make Ye Fret Bonus: “A Stroke of the Pen with Pat & Jan Harkin” thetruthshallmakeyefret.com

Other appearances

Episodes where there's significant discussion of the book, but it's not the focus of the episode.

Date Show Episode External link
2023-11-20 Quick Book Reviews “Interviews with Rob Wilkins about Terry Pratchett & also with Andrew Pettegree” acast.com

External links