The J.K. Rowling Index

List of all J.K. Rowling's writings.

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Children trapped in orphanages are the hidden victims of the war in Ukraine

Index ID: CHUKR — Publication date: March 25th, 2022

Like everyone right now, I wake up each morning shocked and dismayed by the horror of the war in Ukraine and the humanitarian crisis unfolding in front of our very eyes. Lumos, the children’s charity I founded fifteen years ago has been working with the Ukrainian government since 2013 to help transform the institutional care system there, which before the war housed 100,000 children – the highest number in Europe.

Lumos launched a fundraising appeal the day after the invasion and I’m so grateful to those who have donated so far. I’m matching donations up to £1m and the money raised will go directly to helping the thousands of children trapped by the fighting in Ukraine’s orphanages, unable to leave due to disability or lack of available family care. The conditions these children are facing are unimaginable, compounding the already present trauma of being confined to an institution in the first place.

As soon as the invasion began, the Ukrainian authorities prioritised evacuating as many children as possible from residential care, especially from institutions close to the front line of the conflict. This resulted in some children being placed back with their families of origin without the usual careful reintegration processor – where this was not possible – children were placed in emergency foster care. Other children have been moved to other institutions in Ukraine or have even been relocated to other countries.

But inevitably some children have been left behind in residential institutions, often because they have such profound and complex disabilities, it was not safe to quickly move them or to find appropriate family-based placements. Not only are these children at risk of being caught up in the war, but there are serious concerns they are also suffering from neglect due to staffing shortages and a lack of food and other essential resources.

Currently, Lumos is working directly with the Ukrainian authorities to help the most vulnerable children: those remaining in residential care; those placed in emergency foster care; those rapidly returned home to families without the right support in place; those living in families in vulnerable situations; and displaced children. The funds being donated to Lumos’ Ukraine Appeal are:

  • Providing emergency food, hygiene and medicine kits
  • Supporting the relocation of vulnerable children and ensure their care and protection
  • Providing psychological support to parents, caregivers and children
  • Supporting foster carers and emergency foster carers taking in children from orphanages

Lumos is also providing direct support to the authorities to help them improve monitoring of child protection risks and gaps. Lumos is deeply concerned that there is no centralised information management system to keep track of the whereabouts, safety and well-being of the 100,000 children from institutions. This creates immense child protection risks. Sometimes family members are not even informed about cross-border evacuations of children, which might result in long term child-family separation and lifelong negative consequences.

As this child protection emergency worsens, the plight of the millions of child refugees grows day by day. It’s reported to date more than 3.5m refugees have fled Ukraine and are crossing borders into neighbouring countries, sometimes unaccompanied. The displacement of children and family separation exposes children to all forms of neglect, abuse and puts them at risk of exploitation and trafficking and being housed in yet more institutions.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­50% of the refugees entering Moldova, where Lumos also operates, are children, with growing numbers of children who are unaccompanied. Lumos is actively participating in national working groups and coordinating with NGOs and other authorities to find urgent solutions to child protection issues and resource shortages, and to address longer-term needs such as education and psychological support.

Lumos will continue to work with the Ukraine authorities and partners to ensure support is available to help the most vulnerable children and their families in Ukraine, and the refugees and displaced children in the surrounding countries.

Tragically, this war has destroyed countless childhoods in a matter of weeks, torn families apart and put at further risk those extremely vulnerable children still trapped in the institutions. Lumos’ mission is to give every child the chance to grow up in a family, by building community care and family support to replace orphanages and other institutions. Every child deserves to grow up in a loving, family environment – never has this been so important as now.

You can support the Lumos Ukraine Appeal here.

1Although misrepresented as ‘orphans’, most children in institutions do have at least one living parent.


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I never said there are only two genders

Index ID: OTG — Publication date: December 29th, 2021

Note: Published as a Twitter thread on December 29th, 2021: https://twitter.com/jk_rowling/status/1476194103528407046

Small but important point: I’ve never said there are only two genders. There are innumerable gender identities.

The question at the heart of this debate is whether sex or gender identity should form the basis of decisions on safeguarding, provision of services, sporting categories and other areas where women and girls currently have legal rights and protections.

Using the words ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ interchangeably obscures the central issue of this debate. If you’re interested in what I actually said, see https://www.jkrowling.com/opinions/j-k-rowling-writes-about-her-reasons-for-speaking-out-on-sex-and-gender-issues/ (in which I literally say ‘trans lives matter’ and ‘trans rights are human rights.’)


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J.K. Rowling on the Magic of ‘Things’

Index ID: MOT — Publication date: December 24th, 2021

Note: It was published on December 24th, 2021, on The New York Times website. A version of this article appears in print on December 26th, 2021, on The New York Times Sunday Book Review.

I own a cuddly tortoise sewn by my mother, which she gave me when I was 7. It has a floral shell, a red underbelly and black felt eyes. Even though I’m notoriously prone to losing things, I’ve managed to keep hold of that tortoise through sundry house moves and even changes of country. My mother died over 30 years ago, so I’ve now lived more of my life without her than with her. I find more comfort in that tortoise than I do in photographs of her, which are now so faded and dated, and emphasize how long she’s been gone. What consoles me is the permanence of the object she made — its unchanging nature, its stolid three-dimensional reality. I’d give up many of my possessions to keep that tortoise, the few exceptions being things that have their own allusive power, like my wedding ring.

The most valuable thing I ever lost, at least in a strictly monetary sense, was a pair of spectacular diamond earrings I won many years ago at a charity ball auction. Though very beautiful, my new clip-ons were heavy and turned out to be exceptionally painful to wear, so tight they made my earlobes throb. I wore them to a formal event in London and found them so uncomfortable I discreetly removed them and stowed them in my evening bag. The following day, having flown back to Scotland, I opened my suitcase and they were nowhere to be found; irrevocably lost.

I put those departed earrings into my new children’s book, “The Christmas Pig,” which is a story of objects lost and found, of things beloved and things unregretted. I made my lost earrings grand and snooty, as befitted objects that demanded the wearer suffer for their beauty. When they reach the Land of the Lost, where the hero must go to rescue his most beloved toy, my earrings are angry that they aren’t treated with the respect they think they deserve. They soon find out that being made of diamonds counts for very little in the strange world where human-made objects go when lost, because a thing’s importance there depends on how much it’s truly loved.

There can be a strange magic in human-made things. Not in all of them: not in plastic bottles or Q-Tips or batteries; but in those that are interwoven with our pasts, with our homes, with our great loves. These are things that have been mysteriously imbued with humanity — our own or other people’s.

The magic of “things” often goes unnoticed until they break or are lost. We have favorite mugs and tea towels, comforting in their familiarity and utility; we treasure the lopsided objects our children made for us in nursery school, and we may still own those toys that soothed us when we were tiny. “The Christmas Pig” was inspired in part by one of those achingly necessary toys without whom sleep is impossible: a cheap cuddly pig around eight inches tall, with a belly full of plastic beans, that belonged to my son, David.

David was so attached to that pig, but so prone to losing it, that I became scared it would one day be lost and never found again. I therefore bought an identical replacement and hid it. David was 3 when he went rummaging in the cupboard where I’d stowed his pig’s twin and took it out, slightly confused. He declared it to be his pig’s brother and kept both of them. They’re both still with us, though their names are different from the pigs’ names in the story. Only David’s habit of hiding his beloved pig, then forgetting where he put it, is taken from real life.

Every writer is asked where ideas come from. It’s a relief to have an answer for once, because more often than not I don’t know — the ideas simply arrive. “The Christmas Pig” sprang from my musings on what it means to be a replacement toy. I’d always wanted to write a Christmas story, and once I’d dreamed the Land of the Lost into being I realized I’d found one at last. Christmas was the perfect backdrop to a tale of loss and love, sacrifice and hope.

Of course, it isn’t necessary to actually celebrate Christmas to grasp that element of the story. Every culture has its sacred, celebratory days when feasts are made and consumed, when the grown-ups are making a special effort, when the whole family assembles, when gifts are exchanged.

“The Christmas Pig” explores a deep attachment to an old object, with all its half-understood associations and meanings, at a time when we’re supposed to be in thrall to acquiring the new. It’s about the journey of a boy, Jack, who has a complicated family life, and is consequently a little lost himself, but who discovers his bravery and deep capacity for love in a strange new world. Of all the books I’ve written, this is the one that made me cry the most, because I was dealing with emotions that run deep in all of us. Loss and change are hard for children, but acceptance of these inevitable parts of life isn’t much easier for adults. There was a particular poignancy in finishing the book (which I began to think about in 2012) during a pandemic that has plunged us all into a frightening new world. “The Christmas Pig” shows how human beings — even small, lost ones — are capable of wonderful, heroic, transformative acts. It’s a story in which hope triumphs over despair and individual acts of kindness bring about huge, positive change.

A very strange thing happened on the day I finished editing “The Christmas Pig.” After emailing the final manuscript to my editor, I set about the mundane job of clearing out a cupboard. Sorting through its items — half my mind still in the story, with Jack and the things that came alive on Christmas Eve — one of the last objects I picked up was a small, nondescript box. It rattled. I opened it.

Now, you might believe this or you might not. I can’t blame you if you don’t; after all, I make things up for a living. Nevertheless, this is the truth: There, twinkling up at me as though they’d just been cleaned, were my long-lost diamond earrings, which I hadn’t seen for decades. How they came to be in that box, in that cupboard, I have no idea, nor can I fathom how they moved house with us without my knowledge. Nor do I understand how they escaped the careful search I made of the evening bag and the suitcase from which they disappeared.

Doubtless there’s a prosaic explanation, though I can’t for the life of me imagine what it is. Sitting on the floor amid the piles of dusty things I’d been sorting, utterly astonished by my discovery, I tried the earrings on again. They were exactly as painful as I remembered.

I’ve decided to sell them and give the proceeds to my charity, Lumos, which works to end child institutionalization. I think it rounds out my earrings’ story rather nicely, to have them return from their long exile humbled, wanting to do some good for children in the Land of the Living. I’ll write a note for the new owner — whose earlobes, with any luck, will be made of sterner stuff than my own — and explain their history, in hopes that they’ll give somebody as much pleasure as their rediscovery gave me.

How many times have I been asked whether I believe in magic? On the day I finished “The Christmas Pig,” for a few shining moments I really did.


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The best children’s books: a Spectator Christmas survey

Index ID: BCB — Publication date: December 17th, 2021

Note: The Spectator reunited several authors to ask them what's the Best Children's Books: https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-best-childrens-books-a-spectator-christmas-survey

Poignant, funny and genuinely scary, The Hundred and One Dalmatians was one of my favourite books as a child and the story has lingered in my imagination ever since. Blue iced cakes always put me in mind of Cruella de Vil’s experimental food colourings, and whenever our dogs whine to get out at dusk I imagine them joining the canine news network, the twilight barking. There’s simply no resisting a book containing the lines ‘There are some people who always find beauty makes them feel sadder, which is a very mysterious thing’, and ‘Mr Dearly was a highly skilled dog-puncher’.


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My family address was posted on Twitter

Index ID: TTFADDR — Publication date: November 22th, 2021

Note: It was published as a Twitter thread on J.K. Rowling's official account: https://twitter.com/jk_rowling/status/1462758324177444870

Last Friday, my family’s address was posted on Twitter by three activist actors who took pictures of themselves in front of our house, carefully positioning themselves to ensure that our address was visible.

I want to say a massive thank you to everybody who reported the image to @TwitterSupport. Your kindness and decency made all the difference to my family and me. I’d also like to thank @PoliceScotland for their support and assistance in this matter.

I implore those people who retweeted the image with the address still visible, even if they did so in condemnation of these people’s actions, to delete it.

Over the last few years I’ve watched, appalled, as women like Allison Bailey, Raquel Sanchez, Marion Miller, Rosie Duffield, Joanna Cherry, Julie Bindel, Rosa Freedman, Kathleen Stock and many, many others, including women who have no public profile but who’ve contacted me to relate their experiences, have been subject to campaigns of intimidation which range from being hounded on social media, the targeting of their employers, all the way up to doxing and direct threats of violence, including rape.

None of these women are protected in the way I am. They and their families have been put into a state of fear and distress for no other reason than that they refuse to uncritically accept that the socio-political concept of gender identity should replace that of sex.

I have to assume that @IAmGeorgiaFrost, @hollywstars and @Richard_Energy_ thought doxxing me would intimidate me out of speaking up for women’s sex-based rights. They should have reflected on the fact that I’ve now received so many death threats I could paper the house with them, and I haven’t stopped speaking out. Perhaps – and I’m just throwing this out there – the best way to prove your movement isn’t a threat to women, is to stop stalking, harassing and threatening us.


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The Christmas Pig

Index ID: TCP — Publication date: October 12th, 2021

Only the beginning of this text can be displayed here for research purposes. I apologize!

Dur Pig was a small toy pig made of the same material as a soft towel. He had little plastic beans in his tummy, which made him fun to throw. His squishy trotters were exactly the right size to wipe away a tear. When his owner, Jack, was very young, he fell asleep every night sucking Dur Pig’s ear.


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My childhood, the novel I threw away — and how my son inspired my new book

Index ID: CHDNBK — Publication date: October 9th, 2021

Note: Published on The Times website, on October 9th, 2021, and on October 10th on the printed edition of The Sunday Times, to promote The Christmas Pig.

‘I am a product of long corridors, empty sunlit rooms, upstairs indoor silences, attics explored in solitude, distant noises of gurgling cisterns and pipes, and the noise of wind under the tiles. Also, of endless books.”

So wrote CS Lewis. A Gen Xer like me couldn’t claim quite the same, because we had television and boomboxes, and the attic in my childhood home wouldn’t have taken much exploring, being about six feet square. On the other hand, I had woods and fields in which I was at liberty to wander alone, as long as I returned for meals. I’m certainly the product of solitude and many, many books.

The elaborate fantasies I span before going to sleep each night made me far more eager to get to bed than most children. Some of my stories had set paragraphs that had to be silently recited before the daydream could begin. I’d embellish these fantastical tales until they could bear no more detail, at which point they’d collapse and lose their power, which meant it was time to build a new one.

I began writing aged six. Maybe, if I’d grown up now, I’d have joined an online writing group and posted my fiction there, although I was always quite secretive about the work I produced out of the classroom. As it is, only my bin and I know exactly what was in the short stories I churned out as a child and a teen, not to mention the novels that shrivelled up and died after a couple of chapters. One thing I’m sure about: my teenage self would definitely have gone looking online for the sense of self that eluded me until I was past 30, although I doubt I’d have found it any earlier. It takes time to realise that self-knowledge doesn’t reside in the labels you apply to yourself, and can’t be obtained through other people’s validation, although humans through the centuries have hoped otherwise.

In my early twenties I wrote quite a lot of a very bad novel called The Private Joke. I regularly abandoned it for months at a time to write other things, then picked it up again. Part of the manuscript was sitting up in the luggage rack when, aged 25, I was travelling by train from Manchester to London, and the idea for a very different kind of book hit me: that of a boy who didn’t realise he was a wizard, and was taken off to magic school.

The idea of writing for children had never occurred to me before, not because I thought it was in any way lesser than writing for adults — I read voraciously as a child and still count certain children’s books among my favourites — but because my childhood wasn’t very happy. I’m not one of those who craves a return to a delightfully carefree youth. For me childhood was a time of anxiety and insecurity. Yet the idea for Harry Potter came to me in a rush of exhilaration, and all I could think was how much I’d love to write it, how much fun it would be to build that hidden world. I kept writing The Private Joke alongside Philosopher’s Stone for a while until it dawned on me, to paraphrase the iconic Sesame Street song, that one of these things is better than the other, and I finally put The Private Joke out of its misery.

How many times was I asked while still writing it: “What makes Harry Potter so popular?” I never had a good answer. It has occurred to me since that much of what young people found in the Potter books are the very same things they seek online: escape, excitement and agency. The Potter books also describe a community that sees and embraces what others might see as oddities. Who doesn’t want that? How much more “seen” can a person feel, than to be told “you’re a wizard”? But the great thing about a book as opposed to a social media platform is that it puts no pressure on its reader to perform or conform. Like a friendly common room, it’s there to retreat to, but it doesn’t judge. It makes no crushing demands.

The children’s book I’m about to publish, The Christmas Pig, had a nine-year-long gestation. I first had the idea back in 2012, and finally finished it last year, at a time when the pandemic was still raging and I was unusually aware of the need for human connection. I think that’s why I kept imagining it being read aloud while working on it, something I’ve never done with any other book.

I always wanted to write a Christmas story, but I promised myself I’d only do it if I fell utterly in love with an idea. It takes a certain amount of courage to enter the field, given the standard of the best ones. My absolute favourite from my own childhood is Father Christmas, by that master of world-building, Raymond Briggs. My own children adored Allan and Janet Ahlberg’s beautifully written and illustrated The Jolly Christmas Postman.

When my Christmas idea finally presented itself, it arrived in a way no other story has come to me, because usually the source is a mystery to me. However, this story originated with a pair of cuddly toy pigs, each about 7in high, made of soft towelling material and filled with beans.

I bought the first pig for my son, David, when he was a baby. As soon as he could show a preference, it became his very favourite cuddly toy, and he wouldn’t go to sleep without it. Yet, despite his great love for the pig, he had a habit of shoving it under cushions, in drawers or inside shoes, then forgetting where he’d put it. This meant many panics at bedtime frantically tracking the pig down.

After a while, scared that the pig would one day be lost for good, I bought a second, identical one and hid it in a cupboard. Inevitably, toddler David went foraging in this cupboard one day and found the replacement pig. He declared it his original pig’s brother and kept it.

The original pig is now extremely worn and battered. His eyes fell out years ago, so I replaced them with buttons. He’s no longer soft and velvety, because he’s had to go in the washing machine so many times. However, the second pig still looks more or less as he did when bought. He was never loved the same way, never invested with the strange power we give beloved toys when we’re young. So one day I got thinking about that, about what it means to be a replacement, the understudy — the Not-Chosen-One, if you like. And then I realised I had my Christmas story, at last.

The pigs in the story have different names to their real-life counterparts, because some things should remain private between a boy and his pigs. The only parts of the story taken directly from life are the hero Jack’s habit of hiding his pig and not being able to find it again, and the sewing on of the button eyes.

I’m again writing about a hidden world, and magic, although they’re totally different to those in the Potter books. This is a story about being lost and being found, about loving and being loved, about what stays with us and what falls away. It’s also about hope and endurance.

The pandemic we’re all living through has shaken our world in every possible way. However much trouble it might have brought me at times, I don’t think I’ve ever been so grateful for the internet as I have over the past year and a half. Without Zoom I wouldn’t have been able to see family for the longest stretch of our lives. The online world also brought me the joy of connecting with child readers again, as they sent me their illustrations for The Ickabog.

Nevertheless, these past 18 months have also made me reflect on how inadequate screens are, for true connection. Just as nothing can replace the physical presence of those we love, whether it’s family or a battered old toy pig, so the place where a writer’s and reader’s imaginations meet to create a fictional world can never be surpassed, even by the most beautifully realised digital game. Where there is a screen, there is always a barrier, but a book lives inside us, because our own imaginations made it come alive.

First book you remember being read to you?
The Wind in the Willows
. I was four years old and had measles.

First book you remember reading for yourself?
I can’t actually remember not being able to read. The earliest book I remember reading to myself was The Great Pie Robbery by Richard Scarry.

First character from a book with whom you identified?
Jo March from Little Women. She shared my name, she wanted to be a writer, she was uncomfortable being a woman. I identified with her completely.

First “grown-up” book you read that stayed with you long afterwards?
I read Claudine at School by Colette when I was (probably) too young to read it, and it’s stayed with me ever since. There’s a strange mixture of honesty and dishonesty about what it is to be a teenage girl. Once I found out that Colette’s husband, under whose name the book was first published, had asked for the manuscript to be “spiced up” with some very male fantasies about what schoolgirls get up to, I understood why 11-year-old me had found it so uneven in tone.


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A Statement from J.K. Rowling following the death of Dick Robinson, CEO and Chairman of Scholastic

Index ID: STSCHCEO — Publication date: June 6th, 2021

I heard the news of Dick Robinson’s passing with shock and profound sadness. Dick was a wise, kind and humane man, who leaves behind him an extraordinary legacy in the world of children’s literature. He was an early champion of Harry Potter and a stalwart support to me through the twenty-four years we knew each other. My thoughts are with everyone at Scholastic, who I know will be reeling from this unexpected news, and above all with Dick’s family, to whom I send my deepest sympathy. I’m just one of thousands of children’s authors who were proud to be published by Dick Robinson, and I’ll miss him very much indeed.


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Fake ads on Facebook

Index ID: FKFB — Publication date: June 4th, 2021

Some fairly preposterous fake ads have been springing up on Facebook, purporting to show me extolling the virtues of cannabidiol products or financial schemes in fake media interviews.  The companies who placed the ads are misleading people and taking their money under false pretences. We have taken this up with Facebook, but if you come across one of the ads, or a company selling these products with my name attached to theirs, do NOT be taken in!


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