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 / Updated  / Source: TODAY

Fantasy writer Terry Pratchett, creator of the "Discworld" series and author of more than 70 books, has died at the age of 66.

Image: British novelist Terry Pratchett dead at 66
British novelist Terry Pratchett posing for the photographer during an interview during the world congress of the World Federation of the Right-to-Die Societies in Zurich, Switzerland. Pratchett died at the age of 66, his publisher announced on March 12, 2015.EPA

Pratchett, who suffered from a very rare form of early onset Alzheimer's disease, had earned wide respect throughout Britain with his dignified campaign for the right of critically ill patients to choose assisted suicide.

The author's death was announced on his Twitter feed in three eloquent, poignant tweets:

Transworld Publishers say Pratchett died Thursday at his home, "with his cat sleeping on his bed surrounded by his family." His publishers said that although he was a champion for assisted suicide, his death was natural.

As of 2000, Pratchett was the second-most popular author in the United Kingdom, exceeded only by J. K. Rowling.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.