[Diana Wynne Jones says]
that she sometimes puts real people
in her books, because having a real person around helps to keep the people she's made up behaving like real people as well.
Often the real people are cast as villains. Sometimes this is a revenge on the author's part (as in the case of Who Got Rid of Angus Flint?), but Diana Wynne Jones has said that another reason is that the villain is often the character who most needs to be kept real.
Specific Real People
The following are some characters who Diana Wynne Jones has said were based on real people:
- Charles Morgan (Witch Week)
- The sisters from The Time of the Ghost.
- Imogen is at least partially based on DWJ's younger sister Isobel, who was considered both pretty and talented by their mother, nearly suffocated while tied to a roof beam with skipping ropes, and gave up the career chosen for her by her mother to do something else with success.
- Fenella is based at least partially on DWJ's youngest sister Ursula, a "commanding" and eccentric personality who tied her hair in knots to keep it out of her eyes, failed her college entrance exams, and pursued a stage career.
- Granny in Fire and Hemlock appears to be based on DWJ's maternal grandmother, given this description of her from DWJ's "Autobiography":
- "Granny was truly marvellous, five feet of Yorkshire common sense, love, and superstition. She was always saying wise things. I remember, among many sayings, when one time she had given me a particularly good present, she said, "No, it's not generous. Being generous is giving something that's hard to give." She was so superstitious that she kept a set of worthless china to break when she happened to break something good, on the grounds that breakages always came in threes and it was as well to get it over. I would have been lost without Granny, that I know."
- Roddy Hyde's maternal grandfather, Gwyn, seems to be based somewhat on DWJ's paternal grandfather, a majestic Welsh preacher who was famous for miles around.