The J.K. Rowling Index

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

Please read our read Frequently Asked Questions if you have any doubts.


A big thank you from J.K. Rowling

Index ID: ICKTK — Publication date: April 28th, 2021

Note: Published on The Ickabog official website.

When I decided to put out chapters of The Ickabog for free during last year’s first lockdown, the response was phenomenal and reminded me just how much I love writing for children. From reader engagement to the avalanche of the children’s pictures submitted to the illustration competition, sharing The Ickabog was a wonderful experience during a very dark time.

I had no idea what to expect in terms of sales of the book, because so many people had already read the story for free. I certainly hoped we’d be able to shift a few copies, because all my royalties would be donated to my charitable trust, Volant, which would then distribute them to charities supporting groups particularly hard-hit by the pandemic, but in truth, sales figures were the last thing on my mind. The Ickabog had been such a special project, I considered that it had done its job even if the printed book didn’t sell very well.

To my absolute astonishment, you bought the book in such numbers that Volant has so far been able to donate millions of pounds to charities helping mitigate the wide-ranging effects of coronavirus, supporting some very vulnerable people who’ve been severely impacted by the pandemic. (you can find out more here)

I was already happy that I’d brought The Ickabog down from the attic, but your extraordinary generosity has made this one of the most meaningful experiences of my writing career. I could never have dreamed what would come of letting Daisy, Bert, Martha and Roderick finish their adventure and I want to thank every single person who bought a copy of their story: yours is the credit for helping change lives and your kindness and generosity will never be forgotten by this author.

J.K. Rowling


Previous writing: «

Next writing:

JK Rowling on how she unearthed the tale of The Ickabog during lockdown

Index ID: STICK — Publication date: Novemeber 8th, 2020

Note: "The Harry Potter author explains how a story that lay unfinished in her attic finally came to be published — with a little help from young artists around the world." Published on The Sunday Times to promote the release of The Ickabog.

There’s nothing like being married to a doctor during a global pandemic to give a writer a healthy dose of humility. As the severity of the crisis became clear, I felt a sense of impotence and inadequacy as I watched medics and other key workers shoulder immense burdens on behalf of all of us.

When the UK went into strict lockdown, I thought of all the families facing the hourly challenge of entertaining and educating younger children, who’d been abruptly deprived of school and playtimes with their friends, and it struck me that there might be something meaningful I could do to help — not life-saving, unfortunately, but hopefully lockdown-improving.

I had the idea for The Ickabog more than a decade ago, while I was still writing the Harry Potter series. Having written a lot of the story, I read it to my two younger children at bedtime. They knew how the tale ended, because I told them the part I hadn’t yet written.

However, I decided against publishing a children’s book next, so The Ickabog went up into the attic, still unfinished. My youngest daughter said to me more than once, “I wish you’d finish it properly, that was my favourite story,” but for me the moment had passed. I came to think of The Ickabog as something that belonged only to our family. Yet over the ensuing years the family sometimes talked about the story, especially the various towns of Cornucopia. I’d feel a tug back towards the box in the attic, but I was busy with other projects, so I resisted.

One night in early lockdown I tentatively raised the idea of finishing the book, putting it online for free and asking children to illustrate it. My now teenagers were wholeheartedly in favour of the idea, so I got to work. As I neared writing the end of the book, I started reading chapters to the family again, which was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my writing life. I was amazed how much detail my children remembered from when they were very small, and I reinstated a couple of bits I’d cut because they liked them.

The reaction as the chapters went online, and especially to the illustration competition, was beyond my wildest imaginings. We received more than 18,000 entries from the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and India, and more in concurrent competitions run in the US and Canada. The talent, inventiveness and sheer delight in paint and story were astounding. As readers predicted how the story would end and speculated on the true nature of the Ickabog, I felt the pure joy in storytelling that’s unique to writing for children.

I’ll be donating my royalties from the physically published book to help medical and frontline charities support vulnerable groups who have been particularly impacted by Covid-19, in the UK and internationally.

The 34 winning illustrations will be included in the book. I’m so grateful to the winners, and to everyone who submitted pictures, for lending their talent to this project. It couldn’t have happened without them.


Previous writing: «

Next writing: »

Statement from J.K. Rowling regarding the Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Award

Index ID: STRFKHR — Publication date: August 27th, 2020

Since I first joined the public debate on gender identity and women’s rights, I’ve been overwhelmed by the thousands of private emails of support I’ve received from people affected by these issues, both within and without the trans community, many of whom feel vulnerable and afraid because of the toxicity surrounding this discussion.

Clinicians, academics, therapists, teachers, social workers, and staff at prisons and women’s refuges have also contacted me. These professionals, some at the very top of their organisations, have expressed serious concerns about the impact of gender identity theory on vulnerable adolescents and on women’s rights, and of the dismantling of safeguarding norms which protect the most vulnerable women. None of them hate trans people. On the contrary, many work with and are personally deeply sympathetic towards trans individuals.

Kerry Kennedy, President of Robert F Kennedy Human Rights, recently felt it necessary to publish a statement denouncing my views on RFKHR’s website.  The statement incorrectly implied that I was transphobic, and that I am responsible for harm to trans people.  As a longstanding donor to LGBT charities and a supporter of trans people’s right to live free of persecution, I absolutely refute the accusation that I hate trans people or wish them ill, or that standing up for the rights of women is wrong, discriminatory, or incites harm or violence to the trans community.

Like the vast majority of the people who’ve written to me, I feel nothing but sympathy towards those with gender dysphoria, and agree with the clinicians and therapists who’ve got in touch who want to see a proper exploration of the factors that lead to it. They – along with a growing number of other experts and whistleblowers – are critical of the ‘affirmative’ model being widely adopted, and are also concerned about the huge rise in the numbers of girls wanting to transition.

To quote the newly-formed Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine (SEGM), a group of 100 international clinicians:

The history of medicine has many examples in which the well-meaning pursuit of short-term relief of symptoms has led to devastating long-term results… The “gender affirmative” model commits young people to lifelong medical treatment…, dismisses the question of whether psychological therapy might help to relieve or resolve gender dysphoria and provides interventions without an adequate examination.

I’ve been particularly struck by the stories of brave detransitioned young women who’ve risked the opprobrium of activists by speaking up about a movement they say has harmed them.  After hearing personally from some of these women, and from such a wide range of professionals, I’ve been forced to the unhappy conclusion that an ethical and medical scandal is brewing. I believe the time is coming when those organisations and individuals who have uncritically embraced fashionable dogma, and demonised those urging caution, will have to answer for the harm they’ve enabled.

RFKHR has stated that there is no conflict between the current radical trans rights movement and the rights of women. The thousands of women who’ve got in touch with me disagree, and, like me, believe this clash of rights can only be resolved if more nuance is permitted in the debate.

In solidarity with those who have contacted me but who are struggling to make their voices heard, and because of the very serious conflict of views between myself and RFKHR, I feel I have no option but to return the Ripple of Hope Award bestowed upon me last year.  I am deeply saddened that RFKHR has felt compelled to adopt this stance, but no award or honour, no matter my admiration for the person for whom it was named, means so much to me that I would forfeit the right to follow the dictates of my own conscience.

J.K. Rowling


Previous writing: «

Next writing: »

J.K. Rowling Writes about Her Reasons for Speaking out on Sex and Gender Issues

Index ID: REAGNDR — Publication date: June 10th, 2020

Note: Warning: This piece contains inappropriate language for children.

This isn’t an easy piece to write, for reasons that will shortly become clear, but I know it’s time to explain myself on an issue surrounded by toxicity. I write this without any desire to add to that toxicity.

For people who don’t know: last December I tweeted my support for Maya Forstater, a tax specialist who’d lost her job for what were deemed ‘transphobic’ tweets. She took her case to an employment tribunal, asking the judge to rule on whether a philosophical belief that sex is determined by biology is protected in law. Judge Tayler ruled that it wasn’t.

My interest in trans issues pre-dated Maya’s case by almost two years, during which I followed the debate around the concept of gender identity closely. I’ve met trans people, and read sundry books, blogs and articles by trans people, gender specialists, intersex people, psychologists, safeguarding experts, social workers and doctors, and followed the discourse online and in traditional media. On one level, my interest in this issue has been professional, because I’m writing a crime series, set in the present day, and my fictional female detective is of an age to be interested in, and affected by, these issues herself, but on another, it’s intensely personal, as I’m about to explain.

All the time I’ve been researching and learning, accusations and threats from trans activists have been bubbling in my Twitter timeline. This was initially triggered by a ‘like’. When I started taking an interest in gender identity and transgender matters, I began screenshotting comments that interested me, as a way of reminding myself what I might want to research later. On one occasion, I absent-mindedly ‘liked’ instead of screenshotting. That single ‘like’ was deemed evidence of wrongthink, and a persistent low level of harassment began.

Months later, I compounded my accidental ‘like’ crime by following Magdalen Berns on Twitter. Magdalen was an immensely brave young feminist and lesbian who was dying of an aggressive brain tumour. I followed her because I wanted to contact her directly, which I succeeded in doing. However, as Magdalen was a great believer in the importance of biological sex, and didn’t believe lesbians should be called bigots for not dating trans women with penises, dots were joined in the heads of twitter trans activists, and the level of social media abuse increased.

I mention all this only to explain that I knew perfectly well what was going to happen when I supported Maya. I must have been on my fourth or fifth cancellation by then. I expected the threats of violence, to be told I was literally killing trans people with my hate, to be called cunt and bitch and, of course, for my books to be burned, although one particularly abusive man told me he’d composted them.

What I didn’t expect in the aftermath of my cancellation was the avalanche of emails and letters that came showering down upon me, the overwhelming majority of which were positive, grateful and supportive. They came from a cross-section of kind, empathetic and intelligent people, some of them working in fields dealing with gender dysphoria and trans people, who’re all deeply concerned about the way a socio-political concept is influencing politics, medical practice and safeguarding. They’re worried about the dangers to young people, gay people and about the erosion of women’s and girl’s rights. Above all, they’re worried about a climate of fear that serves nobody – least of all trans youth – well.

I’d stepped back from Twitter for many months both before and after tweeting support for Maya, because I knew it was doing nothing good for my mental health. I only returned because I wanted to share a free children’s book during the pandemic. Immediately, activists who clearly believe themselves to be good, kind and progressive people swarmed back into my timeline, assuming a right to police my speech, accuse me of hatred, call me misogynistic slurs and, above all – as every woman involved in this debate will know – TERF.

If you didn’t already know – and why should you? – ‘TERF’ is an acronym coined by trans activists, which stands for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist. In practice, a huge and diverse cross-section of women are currently being called TERFs and the vast majority have never been radical feminists. Examples of so-called TERFs range from the mother of a gay child who was afraid their child wanted to transition to escape homophobic bullying, to a hitherto totally unfeminist older lady who’s vowed never to visit Marks & Spencer again because they’re allowing any man who says they identify as a woman into the women’s changing rooms. Ironically, radical feminists aren’t even trans-exclusionary – they include trans men in their feminism, because they were born women.

But accusations of TERFery have been sufficient to intimidate many people, institutions and organisations I once admired, who’re cowering before the tactics of the playground. ‘They’ll call us transphobic!’ ‘They’ll say I hate trans people!’ What next, they’ll say you’ve got fleas? Speaking as a biological woman, a lot of people in positions of power really need to grow a pair (which is doubtless literally possible, according to the kind of people who argue that clownfish prove humans aren’t a dimorphic species).

So why am I doing this? Why speak up? Why not quietly do my research and keep my head down?

Well, I’ve got five reasons for being worried about the new trans activism, and deciding I need to speak up.

Firstly, I have a charitable trust that focuses on alleviating social deprivation in Scotland, with a particular emphasis on women and children. Among other things, my trust supports projects for female prisoners and for survivors of domestic and sexual abuse. I also fund medical research into MS, a disease that behaves very differently in men and women. It’s been clear to me for a while that the new trans activism is having (or is likely to have, if all its demands are met) a significant impact on many of the causes I support, because it’s pushing to erode the legal definition of sex and replace it with gender.

The second reason is that I’m an ex-teacher and the founder of a children’s charity, which gives me an interest in both education and safeguarding. Like many others, I have deep concerns about the effect the trans rights movement is having on both.

The third is that, as a much-banned author, I’m interested in freedom of speech and have publicly defended it, even unto Donald Trump.

The fourth is where things start to get truly personal. I’m concerned about the huge explosion in young women wishing to transition and also about the increasing numbers who seem to be detransitioning (returning to their original sex), because they regret taking steps that have, in some cases, altered their bodies irrevocably, and taken away their fertility. Some say they decided to transition after realising they were same-sex attracted, and that transitioning was partly driven by homophobia, either in society or in their families.

Most people probably aren’t aware – I certainly wasn’t, until I started researching this issue properly – that ten years ago, the majority of people wanting to transition to the opposite sex were male. That ratio has now reversed. The UK has experienced a 4400% increase in girls being referred for transitioning treatment. Autistic girls are hugely overrepresented in their numbers.

The same phenomenon has been seen in the US. In 2018,  American physician and researcher Lisa Littman set out to explore it. In an interview, she said:

‘Parents online were describing a very unusual pattern of transgender-identification where multiple friends and even entire friend groups became transgender-identified at the same time. I would have been remiss had I not considered social contagion and peer influences as potential factors.’

Littman mentioned Tumblr, Reddit, Instagram and YouTube as contributing factors to Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria, where she believes that in the realm of transgender identification ‘youth have created particularly insular echo chambers.’

Her paper caused a furore. She was accused of bias and of spreading misinformation about transgender people, subjected to a tsunami of abuse and a concerted campaign to discredit both her and her work. The journal took the paper offline and re-reviewed it before republishing it. However, her career took a similar hit to that suffered by Maya Forstater. Lisa Littman had dared challenge one of the central tenets of trans activism, which is that a person’s gender identity is innate, like sexual orientation. Nobody, the activists insisted, could ever be persuaded into being trans.

The argument of many current trans activists is that if you don’t let a gender dysphoric teenager transition, they will kill themselves. In an article explaining why he resigned from the Tavistock (an NHS gender clinic in England) psychiatrist Marcus Evans stated that claims that children will kill themselves if not permitted to transition do not ‘align substantially with any robust data or studies in this area. Nor do they align with the cases I have encountered over decades as a psychotherapist.’

The writings of young trans men reveal a group of notably sensitive and clever people.  The more of their accounts of gender dysphoria I’ve read, with their insightful descriptions of anxiety, dissociation, eating disorders, self-harm and self-hatred, the more I’ve wondered whether, if I’d been born 30 years later, I too might have tried to transition. The allure of escaping womanhood would have been huge. I struggled with severe OCD as a teenager. If I’d found community and sympathy online that I couldn’t find in my immediate environment, I believe I could have been persuaded to turn myself into the son my father had openly said he’d have preferred.

When I read about the theory of gender identity, I remember how mentally sexless I felt in youth. I remember Colette’s description of herself as a ‘mental hermaphrodite’ and Simone de Beauvoir’s words: ‘It is perfectly natural for the future woman to feel indignant at the limitations posed upon her by her sex. The real question is not why she should reject them: the problem is rather to understand why she accepts them.’

As I didn’t have a realistic possibility of becoming a man back in the 1980s, it had to be books and music that got me through both my mental health issues and the sexualised scrutiny and judgement that sets so many girls to war against their bodies in their teens. Fortunately for me, I found my own sense of otherness, and my ambivalence about being a woman, reflected in the work of female writers and musicians who reassured me that, in spite of everything a sexist world tries to throw at the female-bodied, it’s fine not to feel pink, frilly and compliant inside your own head; it’s OK to feel confused, dark, both sexual and non-sexual, unsure of what or who you are.

I want to be very clear here: I know transition will be a solution for some gender dysphoric people, although I’m also aware through extensive research that studies have consistently shown that between 60-90% of gender dysphoric teens will grow out of their dysphoria. Again and again I’ve been told to ‘just meet some trans people.’ I have: in addition to a few younger people, who were all adorable, I happen to know a self-described transsexual woman who’s older than I am and wonderful. Although she’s open about her past as a gay man, I’ve always found it hard to think of her as anything other than a woman, and I believe (and certainly hope) she’s completely happy to have transitioned. Being older, though, she went through a long and rigorous process of evaluation, psychotherapy and staged transformation. The current explosion of trans activism is urging a removal of almost all the robust systems through which candidates for sex reassignment were once required to pass. A man who intends to have no surgery and take no hormones may now secure himself a Gender Recognition Certificate and be a woman in the sight of the law. Many people aren’t aware of this.

We’re living through the most misogynistic period I’ve experienced. Back in the 80s, I imagined that my future daughters, should I have any, would have it far better than I ever did, but between the backlash against feminism and a porn-saturated online culture, I believe things have got significantly worse for girls. Never have I seen women denigrated and dehumanised to the extent they are now. From the leader of the free world’s long history of sexual assault accusations and his proud boast of ‘grabbing them by the pussy’, to the incel (‘involuntarily celibate’) movement that rages against women who won’t give them sex, to the trans activists who declare that TERFs need punching and re-educating, men across the political spectrum seem to agree: women are asking for trouble. Everywhere, women are being told to shut up and sit down, or else.

I’ve read all the arguments about femaleness not residing in the sexed body, and the assertions that biological women don’t have common experiences, and I find them, too, deeply misogynistic and regressive. It’s also clear that one of the objectives of denying the importance of sex is to erode what some seem to see as the cruelly segregationist idea of women having their own biological realities or – just as threatening – unifying realities that make them a cohesive political class. The hundreds of emails I’ve received in the last few days prove this erosion concerns many others just as much.  It isn’t enough for women to be trans allies. Women must accept and admit that there is no material difference between trans women and themselves.

But, as many women have said before me, ‘woman’ is not a costume. ‘Woman’ is not an idea in a man’s head. ‘Woman’ is not a pink brain, a liking for Jimmy Choos or any of the other sexist ideas now somehow touted as progressive. Moreover, the ‘inclusive’ language that calls female people ‘menstruators’ and ‘people with vulvas’ strikes many women as dehumanising and demeaning. I understand why trans activists consider this language to be appropriate and kind, but for those of us who’ve had degrading slurs spat at us by violent men, it’s not neutral, it’s hostile and alienating.

Which brings me to the fifth reason I’m deeply concerned about the consequences of the current trans activism.

I’ve been in the public eye now for over twenty years and have never talked publicly about being a domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor. This isn’t because I’m ashamed those things happened to me, but because they’re traumatic to revisit and remember. I also feel protective of my daughter from my first marriage. I didn’t want to claim sole ownership of a story that belongs to her, too. However, a short while ago, I asked her how she’d feel if I were publicly honest about that part of my life, and she encouraged me to go ahead.

I’m mentioning these things now not in an attempt to garner sympathy, but out of solidarity with the huge numbers of women who have histories like mine, who’ve been slurred as bigots for having concerns around single-sex spaces.

I managed to escape my first violent marriage with some difficulty, but I’m now married to a truly good and principled man, safe and secure in ways I never in a million years expected to be. However, the scars left by violence and sexual assault don’t disappear, no matter how loved you are, and no matter how much money you’ve made. My perennial jumpiness is a family joke – and even I know it’s funny – but I pray my daughters never have the same reasons I do for hating sudden loud noises, or finding people behind me when I haven’t heard them approaching.

If you could come inside my head and understand what I feel when I read about a trans woman dying at the hands of a violent man, you’d find solidarity and kinship. I have a visceral sense of the terror in which those trans women will have spent their last seconds on earth, because I too have known moments of blind fear when I realised that the only thing keeping me alive was the shaky self-restraint of my attacker.

I believe the majority of trans-identified people not only pose zero threat to others, but are vulnerable for all the reasons I’ve outlined. Trans people need and deserve protection. Like women, they’re most likely to be killed by sexual partners. Trans women who work in the sex industry, particularly trans women of colour, are at particular risk. Like every other domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor I know, I feel nothing but empathy and solidarity with trans women who’ve been abused by men.

So I want trans women to be safe. At the same time, I do not want to make natal girls and women less safe. When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman – and, as I’ve said, gender confirmation certificates may now be granted without any need for surgery or hormones – then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside. That is the simple truth.

On Saturday morning, I read that the Scottish government is proceeding with its controversial gender recognition plans, which will in effect mean that all a man needs to ‘become a woman’ is to say he’s one. To use a very contemporary word, I was ‘triggered’. Ground down by the relentless attacks from trans activists on social media, when I was only there to give children feedback about pictures they’d drawn for my book under lockdown, I spent much of Saturday in a very dark place inside my head, as memories of a serious sexual assault I suffered in my twenties recurred on a loop. That assault happened at a time and in a space where I was vulnerable, and a man capitalised on an opportunity.  I couldn’t shut out those memories and I was finding it hard to contain my anger and disappointment about the way I believe my government is playing fast and loose with womens and girls’ safety.

Late on Saturday evening, scrolling through children’s pictures before I went to bed, I forgot the first rule of Twitter – never, ever expect a nuanced conversation – and reacted to what I felt was degrading language about women. I spoke up about the importance of sex and have been paying the price ever since. I was transphobic, I was a cunt, a bitch, a TERF, I deserved cancelling, punching and death. You are Voldemort said one person, clearly feeling this was the only language I’d understand.

It would be so much easier to tweet the approved hashtags – because of course trans rights are human rights and of course trans lives matter – scoop up the woke cookies and bask in a virtue-signalling afterglow. There’s joy, relief and safety in conformity. As Simone de Beauvoir also wrote, “… without a doubt it is more comfortable to endure blind bondage than to work for one’s liberation; the dead, too, are better suited to the earth than the living.”

Huge numbers of women are justifiably terrified by the trans activists; I know this because so many have got in touch with me to tell their stories. They’re afraid of doxxing, of losing their jobs or their livelihoods, and of violence.

But endlessly unpleasant as its constant targeting of me has been, I refuse to bow down to a movement that I believe is doing demonstrable harm in seeking to erode ‘woman’ as a political and biological class and offering cover to predators like few before it. I stand alongside the brave women and men, gay, straight and trans, who’re standing up for freedom of speech and thought, and for the rights and safety of some of the most vulnerable in our society: young gay kids, fragile teenagers, and women who’re reliant on and wish to retain their single sex spaces. Polls show those women are in the vast majority, and exclude only those privileged or lucky enough never to have come up against male violence or sexual assault, and who’ve never troubled to educate themselves on how prevalent it is.

The one thing that gives me hope is that the women who can protest and organise, are doing so, and they have some truly decent men and trans people alongside them. Political parties seeking to appease the loudest voices in this debate are ignoring women’s concerns at their peril. In the UK, women are reaching out to each other across party lines, concerned about the erosion of their hard-won rights and widespread intimidation. None of the gender critical women I’ve talked to hates trans people; on the contrary. Many of them became interested in this issue in the first place out of concern for trans youth, and they’re hugely sympathetic towards trans adults who simply want to live their lives, but who’re facing a backlash for a brand of activism they don’t endorse. The supreme irony is that the attempt to silence women with the word ‘TERF’ may have pushed more young women towards radical feminism than the movement’s seen in decades.

The last thing I want to say is this. I haven’t written this essay in the hope that anybody will get out a violin for me, not even a teeny-weeny one. I’m extraordinarily fortunate; I’m a survivor, certainly not a victim. I’ve only mentioned my past because, like every other human being on this planet, I have a complex backstory, which shapes my fears, my interests and my opinions. I never forget that inner complexity when I’m creating a fictional character and I certainly never forget it when it comes to trans people.

All I’m asking – all I want – is for similar empathy, similar understanding, to be extended to the many millions of women whose sole crime is wanting their concerns to be heard without receiving threats and abuse.


Previous writing: «

Next writing: »

J.K. Rowling introduces The Ickabog

Index ID: ICKBINTRO — Publication date: May 26th, 2020

Note: Introduction to her new story, published on her official website.

About The Ickabog

The idea for The Ickabog came to me while I was still writing Harry Potter. I wrote most of a first draft in fits and starts between Potter books, intending to publish it after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

However, after the last Potter book I wanted to take a break from publishing, which ended up lasting five years. In that time I wrote The Casual Vacancy and Robert Galbraith wrote The Cuckoo’s Calling. After some dithering (and also after my long-suffering agent had trademarked The Ickabog – sorry, Neil) I decided I wanted to step away from children’s books for a while. At that point, the first draft of The Ickabog went up into the attic, where it’s remained for nearly a decade. Over time I came to think of it as a story that belonged to my two younger children, because I’d read it to them in the evenings when they were little, which has always been a happy family memory.

A few weeks ago at dinner, I tentatively mooted the idea of getting The Ickabog down from the attic and publishing it for free, for children in lockdown. My now teenagers were touchingly enthusiastic, so downstairs came the very dusty box, and for the last few weeks I’ve been immersed in a fictional world I thought I’d never enter again. As I worked to finish the book, I started reading chapters nightly to the family again. This was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my writing life, as The Ickabog’s first two readers told me what they remember from when they were tiny, and demanded the reinstatement of bits they’d particularly liked (I obeyed).

I think The Ickabog lends itself well to serialisation because it was written as a read-aloud book (unconsciously shaped, I think, by the way I read it to my own children), but it’s suitable for 7-9 year olds to read to themselves.

I’ll be posting a chapter (or two, or three) every weekday between 26th May and 10th July on The Ickabog website. We plan to publish some translations soon and will post further details on that website when they’re available.

The Ickabog is a story about truth and the abuse of power.  To forestall one obvious question: the idea came to me well over a decade ago, so it isn’t intended to be read as a response to anything that’s happening in the world right now. The themes are timeless and could apply to any era or any country.

The Illustration Competition

Having decided to publish, I thought how wonderful it would be if children in lockdown, or otherwise needing distraction during the strange and difficult time we’re passing through, illustrated the story for me. There will be suggestions about the illustrations we might need for each chapter on The Ickabog website, but nobody should feel constrained by these ideas. I want to see imaginations run wild! Creativity, inventiveness and effort are the most important things: we aren’t necessarily looking for the most technical skill!

In November 2020, The Ickabog will be published in English in print, eBook and audiobook formats, shortly followed by other languages. The best drawings in each territory will be included in the finished books. As publishers in each territory will need to decide which pictures work best for their own editions, I won’t be personally judging the entries. However, if parents and guardians post their children’s drawing on Twitter using the hashtag #TheIckabog, I’ll be able to share and comment!  To find out more about the Illustration Competition, go to The Ickabog website when it launches.

Covid-19 Donation

I’m pledging all author royalties from The Ickabog, when published, to help groups who’ve been particularly impacted by the pandemic. Further details will be available later in the year.

Huge thanks are due…

… to my dear friend and editor Arthur Levine; to the phenomenal James McKnight of the Blair Partnership, who’s worked tirelessly to make this project a reality in a very short space of time; to Ruth Alltimes at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, whose help has been invaluable; to my peerless management team, Rebecca Salt, Nicky Stonehill and Mark Hutchinson and to my wonderful agent Neil Blair. I promise all of you not to have any more bright ideas for a few months at least.


Previous writing: «

Next writing: »

The Ickabog – Welcome message

Index ID: ICKBWEL — Publication date: May 26th, 2020

Welcome!

You’ve arrived at the website of my new story, The Ickabog.

I had the idea for The Ickabog a long time ago and read it to my two younger children chapter by chapter each night while I was working on it. However, when the time came to publish it, I decided to put out a book for adults instead, which is how The Ickabog ended up in the attic. I became busy with other things, and even though I loved the story, over the years I came to think of it as something that was just for my own children.

Then this lockdown happened. It’s been very hard on children, in particular, so I brought The Ickabog down from the attic, read it for the first time in years, rewrote bits of it and then read it to my children again. They told me to put back in some bits they’d liked when they were little, and here we are!

The Ickabog will be published for free on this website, in instalments, over the next seven weeks, a chapter (or two, or three), at a time. It isn’t Harry Potter and it doesn’t include magic. This is an entirely different story.

The most exciting part, for me, at least, is that I’d like you to illustrate The Ickabog for me. Every day, I’ll be making suggestions for what you might like to draw. You can enter the official competition being run by my publishers, for the chance to have your artwork included in a printed version of the book due out later this year. I’ll be giving suggestions as to what to draw as we go along, but you should let your imagination run wild.

I won’t be judging the competition. Each publisher will decide what works best for their editions. However, if you, your parent or your guardian would like to share your artwork on Twitter using the hashtag #TheIckabog, I’ll be able to see it and maybe share and comment on it!

When the book is published in November, I’m going to donate all my royalties to help people who have been affected by the coronavirus. We’ll give full details later in the year.

I think that’s everything you need to know. I hope you enjoy reading it and I can’t wait to see your pictures!

Love,

J.K. Rowling


Previous writing: «

Next writing: »

Reply for Hetta

Index ID: HETTA — Publication date: April 3rd, 2020

Note: This letter was shared on Twitter to a fan who wrote a letter to J.K. Rowling during the self-isolation days due to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. This is the tweet: https://twitter.com/jk_rowling/status/1246119184569942016/

Dear Hetta,

Thank you for saying that you like my books!

I didn’t mind calling myself “J.K.”. You see, I’d always been sorry my parents didn’t give me a middle name, so I got to call myself Kathleen after my favourite grandmother!

Lots of love,

Jo

also known as
J.K. Rowling


The following images are related to this writing


Previous writing: «

Next writing: »

On Writing

Index ID: OW — Publication date: January 6th, 2019

Q. Do you have tips for others trying to write?

A: I have to say that I can’t stand lists of ‘must do’s’, whether in life or in writing. Something rebels in me when I’m told what I have to do before I’m fifty, or have to buy this season, or have to write if I want to be a success.

Ten Habits All Best-Selling Writers Have In Common. These Five Tips Will Transform Your Writing! Follow J.K. Rowling’s Golden Rules For Success!

I haven’t got ten rules that guarantee success, although I promise I’d share them if I did. The truth is that I found success by stumbling off alone in a direction most people thought was a dead end, breaking all the 1990s shibboleths about children’s books in the process. Male protagonists are unfashionable. Boarding schools are anathema. No kids book should be longer than 45,000 words.

So forget the ‘must do’s’ and concentrate on the ‘you probably won’t get far withouts’, which are:

Reading

This is especially for younger writers. You can’t be a good writer without being a devoted reader. Reading is the best way of analysing what makes a good book. Notice what works and what doesn’t, what you enjoyed and why. At first you’ll probably imitate your favourite writers, but that’s a good way to learn. After a while, you’ll find your own distinctive voice.

Discipline

Moments of pure inspiration are glorious, but most of a writer’s life is, to adapt the old cliché, about perspiration rather than inspiration. Sometimes you have to write even when the muse isn’t cooperating.

Resilience and humility

These go hand-in-hand, because rejection and criticism are part of a writer’s life. Informed feedback is useful and necessary, but some of the greatest writers were rejected multiple times. Being able to pick yourself up and keep going is invaluable if you’re to survive your work being publicly assessed. The harshest critic is often inside your own head. These days I can usually calm that particular critic down by feeding her a biscuit and giving her a break, although in the early days I sometimes had to take a week off before she’d take a more kindly view of the work in progress. Part of the reason there were seven years between having the idea for Philosopher’s Stone and getting it published, was that I kept putting the manuscript away for months at a time, convinced it was rubbish.

Courage

Fear of failure is the saddest reason on earth not to do what you were meant to do. I finally found the courage to start submitting my first book to agents and publishers at a time when I felt a conspicuous failure. Only then did I decide that I was going to try this one thing that I always suspected I could do, and, if it didn’t work out, well, I’d faced worse and survived.

Ultimately, wouldn’t you rather be the person who actually finished the project you’re dreaming about, rather than the one who talks about ‘always having wanted to’?

Independence

By this, I mean resisting the pressure to think you have to follow all the Top Ten Tips religiously, which these days take the form not just of online lists, but of entire books promising to tell you how to write a bestseller/what you MUST do to be published/how to make a million dollars from writing.

I often recommend a website called Writer Beware (https://accrispin.blogspot.com) to new and aspiring writers. It’s a fantastic resource for anyone who’s trying to decide what might be useful, what’s worth paying for and what should be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately, there are all kinds of scams out there that didn’t exist when I started out, especially online.

Ultimately, in writing as in life, your job is to do the best you can, improving your own inherent limitations where possible, learning as much as you can and accepting that perfect works of art are only slightly less rare than perfect human beings. I’ve often taken comfort from Robert Benchley’s words: ‘It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up, because by that time I was too famous.’

 

Q. What do you love most about the writing life?

A: I can’t answer this without sounding melodramatic. The truth is that I can’t really separate a ‘writing life’ from ‘life.’ It’s more of a need than a love. I suppose I must spend most of my conscious life in fictional worlds, which some people may find sad, as though there must be something lacking in my external life. There really isn’t! I’m a happy person, by and large, with a family I adore and quite a few activities I enjoy. It’s just that I have other worlds in my head that I often slip in and out of and I don’t really know how it would feel to live any other way.

 

Q. What does it feel like having your work scrutinised? 

A: Having your work scrutinised is an inevitable concomitant of being a professional writer. I never dreamed that there would be a fandom the size of Harry Potter’s picking over the books. It’s staggering and wonderful. Given that I’m fairly obsessive myself, these are kindred spirits.

I could have spent literally every hour of every day discussing Potter characters, plot twists and theories with fans over the last ten years, but as I want to work on new things, I don’t give in to this temptation that frequently.

I miss the days when readings and events were slightly more low key.  I’m not complaining, but when audiences grow big you obviously can’t reach everyone who wants to ask you a question. Being able to engage with people on Twitter goes some way to solving this for me.  It’s astounding that people are still so interested in those books, and I doubt I’ll ever stop interacting as long as there are readers who know the world so well.

I’m in a new phase with the fandom right now, because I’m working within the wizarding world again, on Fantastic Beasts. Once again, I’m balancing wanting to interact with fans, with not being able to answer certain questions fully, because we’re only two films into a five film series. It’s a nice problem to have, though.


Previous writing: «

Next writing: »

Answers to Questions #3

Index ID: AQ3 — Publication date: November 12th, 2018

Q: Do you create as much detail beyond what we see in the Fantastic Beasts films as you did for the Harry Potter books?

A: Warner Bros had optioned the rights to the Fantastic Beasts years previously, so I knew that it might one day become a movie, but the only discussions we’d ever had about it were quite vague. I do remember thinking that if anything ever came of it, I’d have to make sure they got Newt Scamander right, because even though he never appeared except as a name within the Potter books, I knew a lot about him. He’d captured my imagination while I was writing his little book. I envisioned a doggedly different, awkward man who was at a loss with humans but phenomenally skilled with beasts.

As for Dumbledore and Grindelwald, I knew a huge amount more than ever appeared in the books, and this is my chance to show/tell some of it. Of course, in a film, one is revealing a story in a very different way than one does in a novel. Sometimes a single look does the job of three paragraphs. As readers of the original books will know, the pair of them don’t meet for a long time between their teenage interactions and their epoch-making confrontation in 1945. Nevertheless, we’ll be exploring their backstory in the films.

 

Q: What kinds of ‘beasts’ are we dealing with here – human or animal?

A: The idea of beasts works on several different levels within the movies. There’s the literal sense of non-human creatures: some of them cute, some of them terrifying, some simply strange. Then there is the metaphorical sense of the beast inside a man, the crude emotions that a manipulative genius like Grindelwald knows how to stoke and use. We’re also dealing with the idea of beastly people:  that some humans are something less than human.  Even where there is great charisma and intelligence, there may be an utter lack of conscience. Finally, I’m exploring the idea of creating beasts, which is to say, othering or dehumanising our fellow people, as the first step towards cruelty or extermination.

So through this beastly landscape walk our original four characters, led by the shambling figure of Newt Scamander, who loves the purity of creatures that the world might call monsters. The human world around Newt and his friends is becoming darker and more complex, and the original hunt for escaped creatures will become a hunt for something much more elusive and difficult: a return to humanity.


Previous writing: «

Next writing: »

Answers to Questions #2

Index ID: AQ2 — Publication date: September 1st, 2018

1. How do you manage two very different fictional worlds (Cormoran Strike and the Wizarding World) and two very different formats (books and screenplays)?

I’ve never had any problem moving between fictional worlds, even if I’m working on them simultaneously. There can be a lot of hanging around waiting for notes on the draft of a movie script, so I like to have a novel on the go in the background.

I envision the different fictional worlds as different rooms to which I have access. At worst, when entering one of the rooms, I have to spend a bit of time re-orientating myself, finding my bearings again, checking what I’ve put in which drawers. However, they’re discrete places in my head, and the moment I re-enter one of the worlds, the characters are as fully real to me as when I left them. Cormoran Strike has never reached for a magic wand, and Newt Scamander doesn’t limp or drink Doom Bar.

The difference between screenplays and novels is more challenging. It isn’t that one is intrinsically easier than the other, but that I’m far less used to writing the former, whereas novels and I are old friends.

2. What comes first, plot or character? 

I’m most interested in character, but plot usually comes first. I need to know the broad outline of the story before I start hatching characters. Having said that, a couple of stories have grown out of a single character. Character can be plot.

3. How do you come up with titles and how important are they?

Titles usually suggest themselves, but coming up with them always make me nervous. I think they’re quite important, which adds pressure. I have no idea what the third Beasts movie will be called, even though I already know the whole story. On the other hand, I already know the titles of the fifth Galbraith book and the children’s story I’m writing next.

4. Does the process of making film and TV put pressure on you to write faster, and do audiences’ reactions influence where you go with plot and how you develop characters? 

Fan reactions to Harry Potter were both exhilarating and overwhelming, often at the same time. I saw it as my job back then to make sure that I arrived at the ending I had planned for the series before the first book was even published. The final destination was hugely important to me, for reasons that were both personal and artistic, and I plotted a course towards it despite being subjected to a lot of (almost entirely good-natured) buffeting from readers.  Part of the fun of a series is the way people invest in the relationships from book to book (or film to film), and I love the fact that people have strong opinions on what should happen next. On the other hand, I never set pen to paper without knowing way more than will eventually appear on the page or screen, and I usually have a fairly strong idea of where I’m going, that won’t change.

In the case of the Beasts movies, I’m writing original screenplays, so there’s a practical need for the work to be done by a specific date so that filming can commence on time.

Where the Cormoran Strike novels are concerned, and even though I love the TV adaptations, I still finish the novel when it’s ready, no sooner! When I agreed to the books being adapted for TV I made it clear that the books would come as and when Robert Galbraith chose. Luckily, he loves writing them, so we should hopefully be seeing Strike on TV for some time to come.

5. Why choose Twitter rather than a well-placed press article or interview to make your opinions known?

Well, firstly that assumes that my main objective in tweeting is to ‘make my opinions known’ rather than what I think most people’s reason is for being on Twitter, which is to engage with other people, to debate and joke. I think for a lot of well-known people, it’s a bracing dose of normality.  Nobody’s shy about telling you you’re an idiot. Twitter’s a great leveller. It isn’t for everyone, but nearly all the writers I know love it, because they’re in their own medium.

There’s a time and a place for a press article, but tweeting is something that happens for me on writing breaks. At its best, it’s fun and fascinating. People in all their diversity and strangeness interest me more than anything else on the planet, and Twitter is as good a place as I’ve ever found for seeing human nature in the raw!


Previous writing: «

Next writing: »