Some Random Facts About The Weasley Family
Ron was the only one of three major characters whose surname never changed; he has been ‘Weasley’ from start to finish. In Britain and Ireland the weasel has a bad reputation as an unfortunate, even malevolent, animal. However, since childhood I have had a great fondness for the family mustelidae; not so much malignant as maligned, in my opinion.
There are also many superstitions associated with redheaded people and most state that they are in some way unlucky (Judas Escariot was supposedly red-haired), but this is nonsense; I happen to like red hair as well as weasels.
Although I never meant him to be like Sean, once I got Ron onto the page he often behaved like my oldest friend, who is both very funny and deeply loyal. However, there are also substantial differences between Ron and Sean. I have only once set out to faithfully depict a real human being (see Gilderoy Lockhart); everywhere else, though I might have borrowed the occasional real person’s characteristic, they are at least 90% imaginary.
Before her marriage Mrs. Weasley was Molly Prewett. As you will note from chapter one, Philosopher’s Stone, she has lost close family members to Voldemort.
Arthur Weasley was one of three brothers. Ginny (full name Ginevra, not Virginia), is the first girl to be born into the Weasley clan for several generations.
Fred and George were born – when else? – on April Fool’s Day.
Nearly Headless Nick
In the first draft of ‘Chamber of Secrets’, Nick sang a self-penned ballad explaining how his head had (nearly) come off. My editor was not very fond of the song and so I cut it. However, for those who are curious, here is the story of Nick’s decapitation in his own moving words.
It was a mistake any wizard could make
Who was tired and caught on the hop
One piffling error, and then, to my terror,
I found myself facing the chop.
Alas for the eve when I met Lady Grieve
A-strolling the park in the dusk!
She was of the belief I could straighten her teeth
Next moment she’d sprouted a tusk.
I cried through the night that I’d soon put her right
But the process of justice was lax;
They’d brought out the block, though they’d mislaid the rock
Where they usually sharpened the axe.
Next morning at dawn, with a face most forlorn,
The priest said to try not to cry,
“You can come just like that, no, you won’t need a hat,”
And I knew that my end must be nigh.
The man in the mask who would have the sad task
Of cleaving my head from my neck,
Said “Nick, if you please, will you get to your knees,”
And I turned to a gibbering wreck.
“This may sting a bit” said the cack-handed twit
As he swung the axe up in the air,
But oh the blunt blade! No difference it made,
My head was still definitely there.
The axeman he hacked and he whacked and he thwacked,
“Won’t be too long”, he assured me,
But quick it was not, and the bone-headed clot
Took forty-five goes ’til he floored me.
And so I was dead, but my faithful old head
It never saw fit to desert me,
It still lingers on, that’s the end of my song,
And now, please applaud, or you’ll hurt me.
In the old days the question I was asked most often was, ‘how do you pronounce the girl’s name?’ As I expect you have noticed, I cunningly inserted the answer to this question in ‘Goblet of Fire’, when I had Hermione instruct Viktor Krum how to say it properly: Her – my – o – nee. I used to hear ‘Her – moyne’ a lot, but my favourite mis-pronunciation ever was ‘Hermy – one.’ I think I like it better than the proper way.
In the dim and distant past Hermione’s surname was ‘Puckle’, but it didn’t suit her at all and was quickly changed for something a little bit less frivolous.
Hermione’s birthday is September the 19th.
When we were editing ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ my editor wanted me to cut the scene in which Harry, Ron and Hermione fight the troll. Although I had accepted most of the smaller cuts he wanted me to make I argued hard for this one. Hermione, bless her, is so very annoying in the early part of ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ that I really felt it needed something (literally) huge to bring her together with Harry and Ron.
I have often said that Hermione is a bit like me when I was younger. I think I was seen by other people as a right little know-it-all, but I hope that it is clear that underneath Hermione’s swottiness there is a lot of insecurity and a great fear of failure (as shown by her Boggart in ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’).
Harry and Dudley: Future Hope?
A couple of people have told me that they hoped to see Dudley at King’s Cross in the Epilogue, accompanying a wizarding child. I must admit that it did occur to me to do that very thing, but a short period of reflection convinced me that any latent wizarding genes would never survive contact with Uncle Vernon’s DNA, so I didn’t do it.
However, I know that after Dudley’s brave attempt at reconciliation at the start of Deathly Hallows, the two cousins would have remained on ‘Christmas Card’ terms for the rest of their lives, and that Harry would have taken his family to visit Dudley’s when they were in the neighbourhood (occasions dreaded by James, Albus and Lily).
I have only once set out to depict somebody I have met and, unlikely though it might seem, the result was Gilderoy Lockhart. I assure you that the person on whom Gilderoy was modelled was even more objectionable than his fictional counterpart. He used to tell whopping great fibs about his past life, all of them designed to demonstrate what a wonderful, brave and brilliant person he was. Perhaps he didn’t really believe he was all that great and wanted to compensate, but I’m afraid I never dug that deep.
You might think it was mean of me to depict him as Gilderoy, but you can rest assured he will never, ever guess. He’s probably out there now telling everybody that he inspired the character of Albus Dumbledore. Or that he wrote the books and lets me take the credit out of kindness.
I am not overly fond of cats. Like Hagrid, I am allergic to them and much prefer dogs. However, there was an exception. When I was working in London in the late 1980s I used to eat my lunch in a nearby square on sunny days and a large, fluffy ginger cat that looked as though it had run face-first into a wall used to prowl around the sunbathers there; I assume it lived in a nearby house. I didn’t ever get close enough to give myself an asthma attack, but I became distantly fond of this cat, which prowled among the humans around it looking disdainful and refusing to be stroked. When I decided to give Hermione an unusually intelligent cat I gave him the appearance of this haughty animal, with the slightly unfair addition of bandy legs.
Crookshanks, as anybody who has read Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will have guessed, is half Kneazle. And if you don’t know what a Kneazle is, you need to hurry up and buy Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (all royalties go to help some of the poorest children in the world).
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