I was perhaps eight was when I first found a copy of Charmed Life in Birmingham Central Library. I can see it very clearly. It was the Puffin Paperback edition and it was sitting to the left on the middle shelf of five, in the last but one case on the far side of the library. Jones began with J, and I was browsing alphabetically. Between the Hs and the Js I was occupied for much of the year.
But at the time, Diana Wynne Jones wasn’t that easy to get hold of. Children’s authors came in and out of print and as Anne Cassidy observed recently, children are transient readers, and authors have to continually be remarketed as their original readers move on. Except that as the years went by, it started to become obvious that Diana’s readers weren’t moving on, rather they were accreting, forming a stealth fandom which could be felt (in those pre-Amazon days) in requests to send books to the U.S.