During the events of Hogfather Susan Sto Helit was the governess of Twyla and Gawain Gaiter. But in the next book she appears in, Thief of Time, there was no mention of the children nor her previous position as governess. Why did she stop?

The obvious explanation is that the children became too old for a governess and Susan's position expired, requiring her to find a new job. But since this was never mentioned (and I've long given up trying to figure out how much time is between the various Discworld novels), I am sort of at a loss to what happened. Was there ever any explanation given, either in the books or by Terry Pratchett himself, or did the fans figure something out on their own?

  • I recollect something about her not been needed any more but it's ages since I read these books Commented Jan 26, 2015 at 15:15

1 Answer 1


There's no in-universe reference describing why she changed roles.

I came up with a few theories;

  • The books appears to take place several years later. The children may have simply outgrown the need for a governess.

  • Mr Gaiter is described as a... "...man to be reckoned with in the wholesale boots and shoes business". As a successful businessman, he (and his family) may have moved to another city.

  • At the end of Hogfather, Death puts the idea of teaching into Susan's head. She may have decided to change career because of this...

AH. Her grandfather stared at her for a moment and she thought she detected just the tiniest flicker of uncertainty. OF COURSE. OF COURSE. TELL ME, ARE YOU LIKELY TO TAKE UP TEACHING ON A LARGER SCALE?

“I hadn’t planned to.”

In Thief of Time, the only reference to her change of career is Susan's conversation with Death. He describes it as career progression:


“I was until the rat arrived.”


“Thank you,” said Susan shortly. “Now, why did—”

  • A Nanny looks after younger children that need nursing and Governess would teach children to read and write, etc. basically a private tutor. They are not quite the same role.
    – Sarriesfan
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 22:33
  • @Sarriesfan - Good point. See edit.
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 22:42

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