The J.K. Rowling Index

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Index ID: ACK — Publication date: July 20th, 2007

Note: Published on her official website before the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Within hours you will know what happens to Harry, Ron, Hermione and the rest in their final adventure. All the secrets I have been carrying around for so long will be yours, too, and those who guessed correctly will be vindicated, and those who guessed wrongly will not, I hope, be too disappointed! As for me, I feel a heady mixture of excitement, nerves and relief. ‘Deathly Hallows’ remains my favourite of the series, even after several re-reads; I cannot wait to share it with the readers who have stuck with me through six previous books.

There is only one thing left to do: acknowledgements! Here are the people who have joined me at various stages of the seventeen year journey I have taken with Harry, who (if you laid their brains end to end) could tell a story much stranger than fiction, of how weird and wonderful the world of Harry Potter became as it expanded way beyond all of our wildest dreams.

I am, firstly, deeply indebted to my agent, Christopher Little, who has been with me from the beginning and who took a chance on an unknown author whom he sweetly advised not to give up the day job, before working tirelessly to make sure that I never needed to teach French irregular verbs again. I bless the day his name caught my eye in the Writers’ and Artists’ Year Book; thank God he wasn’t christened Vernon. Everyone at his (now considerably expanded) agency deserves my deepest thanks, but in particular Emma Schlesinger, who has become an irreplaceable walking encyclopaedia of Potterania, and Neil Blair, who has fought so many battles on Harry’s and my behalf, and will, hopefully, get his weekends back now.
My eternal gratitude goes to Barry Cunningham, the editor at Bloomsbury Children’s books who accepted Philosopher’s Stone for publication, but who did not remain at the company long enough to garner all the plaudits that were rightfully his. I had been turned down by a fairly long list of publishers before Barry discerned some merit in Harry; he is a great editor and I will never forget his patience with a writer who was simultaneously struggling to be a teacher and a single mother.

Barry was succeeded by Emma Matthewson, who has been my editor and friend for the subsequent six Harrys, whose arbitration I have awaited with bated breath every time I delivered a manuscript, and without whose calmness, honesty and sound judgement I would have been lost. The editing of ‘Deathly Hallows’ was, in particular, hugely emotional for me, and I cannot think of anyone I would rather have shared it with.

Everyone at Bloomsbury Children’s Books has been fantastic to me and worked so hard for Harry, but Rosamund de la Hey and Sarah Odenina were with me from the start and have been staunch friends throughout. Nigel Newton, Chief Executive of Bloomsbury, has been hugely supportive from the very beginning, long before Harry began to sell in vast numbers, because his children were fans of the books; he has been a constant source of enthusiasm and generosity.

A turning point in my life was the day I spoke to Arthur Levine for the first time. He was the American editor who had just out-bid three other publishers for the first Harry book. I felt terrified as I picked up the telephone to speak to him; the first thing he said was, ‘are you terrified?’ I think I loved him from that moment. He, too, has become a real friend and confidant, and the memories I have of seeing San Francisco with Arthur on my first American tour are among my happiest of the whole Potter experience.

The other person at Scholastic whom I must thank is the preternaturally efficient and completely lovely Kris Moran, who has shepherded me through two American tours, and sundry other press events, and whom I adore for her loyalty, her ability to locate coffee in an apparently moisture-free environment and her corner-of-the-mouth-while-opening-books-for-signing quips.

I also want to thank booksellers everywhere, but particularly in the UK, because they were crucial to Harry’s initial success, which was built, not on clever marketing, but on word-of-mouth recommendations by the highly knowledgeable people who staff our bookshops. Harry has become hard work for booksellers in later years, with embargoes and crowds making the whole business much more fraught, and much less intimate, than it used to be (though many still throw themselves into the spirit of midnight openings); I am deeply grateful.

Harry Potter is now published in 64 different languages. I am constantly mindful of the fact that so many people are involved in the production of the books across the globe, from China to Canada and most places in between. The arrival of foreign editions is always a real thrill, and I am so grateful to all the people involved, some of whom I have met, but most of whom I have not. I would like to send a little cyber-wave and my warmest thanks to Christine, Yuko, Allan, all the Klauses, Pedro and Sigrid. To list everybody would take up twelve pages, so please forgive me…

Dotti Irving, Mark Hutchinson, Rebecca Salt and Nicky Stonehill at Colman Getty PR have made my life so much easier it makes me wince to remember how it was BCG. Bizarre Potter press stories will fade out of our lives now, and we’ll probably miss them once they’re gone…

Here in my office at home are Christine and Angela, who have dealt expertly and sensitively with my Harry-mail for years, making sure I see the letters I ought to, bringing calm where once there was chaos. I am so glad I found both of them, and that they are still hanging in there.

It is hard to know what to say about my indefatigable, invaluable, indispensable PA, Fiddy, whose job has swollen beyond recognition since I first had lunch with her and told her it would probably fill an afternoon a week. She has stood valiantly between me and a tidal wave of demands for years now, enabling me to write books and look after my children, and barely a day goes by when I don’t thank God I have her.

And so to my family. For a long time, my sister Di was the only one who really saw what it was like at the eye of the storm, and on at least one occasion she picked me up, dusted me down, and talked me back to sanity. She understood that, for all the incredible benefits Harry brought me, there came a time when the pressure and the attention I had not sought became a little overwhelming, and she was the one who saw me through that period, and enabled me to find some perspective.

No writer ever had a better spouse than my husband. I still cannot believe how lucky I am to have married Neil; I don’t think writers are supposed to be this happy. His support has made the writing of the sixth and seventh books, in particular, a complete joy.

As for my children, my two youngest do not really know what Harry Potter is all about yet. Looking forward to sharing the books with them when they are old enough keeps me from feeling too sad at having finished.

The very last person to be thanked is the most important person of all, the one to whom I owe the greatest debt of gratitude. I wrote the final draft of the first three chapters of ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ while pregnant with my eldest daughter, Jessica. She has never known what it is like to live without Harry Potter; even before he was published, he was a presence in our house as I typed away frantically in the evenings or broke off conversations with her to scribble on bits of paper. Jessica has never once complained about the attention I devoted to her fictional brother, never reproached me for the fact that Harry Potter has sometimes been a bane rather than a boon in her life. It has not always been easy to be J K Rowling’s daughter, yet if I had decided to stop before the seventh book it would have been Jessica’s disappointment that I would have feared the most. The fact that ‘Deathly Hallows’ will sit beside Jessica’s bed until it becomes dog-eared and falls apart means more to me than anything else, more than the huge print run, more than all the publicity in the world. So thank you, Decca. (And tidy your room. It’s disgusting. Mum X)

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Rubbish Bin: Pure Garbage (Desktop Website)

Index ID: RB6DW — Publication date: August 10th, 2005 to November 15th, 2007

Dr. Neil Murray ‘gives up work’

Last year several newspaper stories alleged that my husband had given up work, presumably to sit at home and watch me write. This is one of those stories that make me angry, because they hurt my family. We asked the newspapers who had printed the misinformation to correct the story, which they did. However, an article has recently appeared in which Neil is yet again described as not working. So… and hopefully for the last time… Neil has NEVER given up work and continues to practise as a doctor in Edinburgh.

Gilderoy Lockhart is based on JKR’s first husband

No, he most certainly is not. I have always been honest about the fact that Gilderoy Lockhart WAS inspired by a real man (see the ‘Extras’ section). For obvious reasons I am not going to identify the person in question – however irritating he was, he does not deserve that – but I can state categorically that I never married him. I do not lie about the inspiration for characters (although at times like these, I wonder why I don’t refuse to answer these questions at all!)

Harry Potter based on JKR’s cousin

Once more I put fingers to keyboard to state wearily that Harry is a completely imaginary character. He is not based on any of the men I have met during my lifetime who wore glasses, or any of the boys who had a scar somewhere on their face, or any of my friends who went to boarding school. But wait – now I stop and think about it, I’M the real Harry Potter! I wear glasses, I’ve got a scar, my school had houses, I sometimes got into trouble… so stand by to read a story in some tabloid tomorrow headlined: ‘Rowling Demands Half-Share of Own Royalties’. Unfortunately and depressingly, these sorts of stories crop up all the time (see my ‘Biography’). There is nothing any author can do to stop people claiming that they ‘inspired’ characters. I can only tell the truth and trust that readers with a grain of sense will know whom to believe.


According to a recent article in a UK newspaper, I am known to my good friends as ‘Joanie’. Just for the record, nobody, in the whole course of my life, has ever called me ‘Joanie.’ I’m looking forward to finding out what my husband calls me. ‘Kevin’, perhaps.

Rowling is ‘riled’ by being seen as a children’s author

Absolute garbage! I have said many times that if I remain a children’s author forever (which I may well do) I will never see this as being a lesser, easier or less ‘serious’ career than writing for adults. Whenever I have discussed the possibility of writing adult fiction, it has nearly always been because an interviewer has asked ‘might you one day write a book for adults?’

Rowling hates Harry Potter

I love Harry Potter and I always will.

Rowling has had Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall to dinner at her house.

Well, I just hope they remember it, because I can’t.

J K Rowling is not a real person, but the name given to a group of anonymous writers

This theory originated in Norway, which figures… nobody who is familiar with the UK press could possibly imagine that such a massive fraud would remain unexposed for longer than ten minutes.

According to a British newspaper, I recently appeared at a Brazilian literary festival. And was I content to take home a nice bit of pottery or leatherwork as a souvenir?

No, not good enough for JK. I decided to buy myself a palatial Brazilian holiday home while I was there. If any Brazilian Harry Potter fans are reading this and wondering why they never got the chance to buy tickets to hear me read, it’s because I’ve never been to Brazil. And if any Brazilian property dealers are wondering why they didn’t get my business, it’s because I’ve never bought a house in Brazil, either. Not even the sumptuous colonial-style mansion, whose grounds nudge the edge of a forest, described in the article. My imaginary neighbour was Mick Jagger, too. I’d say you couldn’t make it up… except someone has.

JKR has no right to talk about the glorification of unhealthily underweight women in some sections of the media, because there’s a fat boy in her books.

There have been several variants of this story, all of which were written by people who had either never read past chapter two of ‘Philosopher’s Stone’, or chose simply to ignore what the rest of us fondly term ‘facts’. I thought of listing all the many characters in the Harry Potter books who are on the plumper side, to demonstrate what a very diverse group of personalities they are, how they include several of my most important, admirable and lovable characters, and how ‘overweight’ in no way equates to ‘bad’ in my fictional world… but Andy from Mugglenet has done it for me. See Andy, I really owe you, because I’ve used the time you saved me to type up half a chapter instead!

J K Rowling does pilates, yoga, jogs, has botox injections and has cut out saturated fats

Apparently I’ve been ‘Rowling back the years’ (ho, ho). Yes, the secrets behind my new (ahem) health and beauty regime have been confided to a British newspaper by a ‘friend’. Now, most people stop having imaginary friends once they’re adults, but mine sometimes drop in on journalists to give them completely unrecognisable accounts of my life. My carbon-based friends, however, if asked whether I jog, do pilates and yoga, have a frozen forehead or refuse cake, might well suffer some kind of mirth-induced internal injury. It would be churlish not to thank the journalist concerned for saying that I look better now than I did in the early days of Harry Potter’s success, and I am indeed grateful for the underlying compliment. In the interests of accuracy, however, I must point out that, far from losing weight, I’ve gained a good bit since the ‘before’ photographs featured in the article. So J K Rowling’s top tip for today is: eat more. Perhaps my next project could be a revolutionary diet book?

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Index ID: RB5DW — Publication date: May 26th, 2005 to November 2007

JKR has said that ‘Half-Blood Prince’ is her best book yet

No, she hasn’t. She is superstitious about saying things like that! What she said – on this very website – was that she had not been this happy with a book since she finished ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’.

J K Rowling ‘veto-ed Steven Spielberg as the director of the first Harry Potter film’

I don’t choose directors for the Harry Potter films! I’ve met all three men who’ve had the job to date – Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuaron and Mike Newell – and I’ve liked all of them very much, enjoyed answering their questions about the characters and plots and have been delighted with the films they made (I haven’t seen Goblet yet, but the omens are good!). But that’s the full extent of my involvement with directors. Steven Spielberg did consider directing ‘Philosopher’s Stone’, but decided against it; anyone who thinks I could (or would) have ‘veto-ed’ him needs their Quick-Quotes Quill serviced.

JKR has written 750 pages of book 7, and told a journalist this at the tea party for ‘Driving Lessons’.

Oh pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease. I haven’t written 750 pages of book seven, and if I had, I’d be very worried, as I’m not close to finishing it yet. I was at the tea party for Driving Lessons, though, so this isn’t pure fiction. The journalist reports that I said that Rupert is ‘absolutely terrific’ in the film. He is, so that bit shouldn’t be in the rubbish bin at all.

J K Rowling demands 2 million rupees from religious charities in India

Recently there were a number of reports that Warner Bros. and I had taken legal action against religious charities in India because they constructed a Hogwarts castle as part of a Hindu festival. Here are the facts. The defendants were not religious charities, and theirs was not a religious celebration. On the contrary, it was a large-scale, commercial, sponsored event involving corporations that included a major Indian high street bank. The event was, however, set up while a Hindu festival was going on. It was Warner Bros who brought the case, because the rights that were being infringed belong to them, not me. My name has to be attached to such proceedings as a legal technicality, because I am the underlying creator of Harry Potter series. Also due to a technicality, Warner Bros were obliged to claim damages as part of their claim. However, they waived this right, and neither sought nor obtained any financial compensation. It is completely false to assert that they, or I, were trying to take money from anybody, let alone two million rupees. The court ruled that Warner Bros. rights had indeed been infringed, and that events such as the one in question would need Warner Bros.’ permission in the future. The court also restrained all the defendants from any future events infringing Warner Bros. rights. Some of the news agencies and newspapers who misreported this story subsequently issued corrections and apologies, but the original, false story is still doing the rounds. In the immortal words of Mark Twain, ‘a lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can even get its boots on.’

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Index ID: RB1DW — Publication date: January 31st, 2005

JKR creates ‘fifteen bedroom mansion’

I was deeply amused to read recent reports in UK newspapers that we have just applied for planning permission to create a fifteen-bedroom-home – after all, even Dudley only required two bedrooms. It’s quite true that we have been doing building work on our house in Edinburgh, but as we are not setting up a hotel we went for a slightly more moderate number of sleeping quarters – divide fifteen by three and you might find yourself a little closer to the truth.

Actually, it now occurs to me that ‘divide-by-three’ is a good rule to apply to a lot of ‘news’ stories.

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Extra Stuff: Miscellaneous

Index ID: EXT3DW — Publication date: December 10th, 2004 to May 14th, 2006


I gave Harry a wand made of holly wood back in 1990, when I first drafted chapter six of ‘Philosopher’s Stone’. It was not an arbitrary decision: holly has certain connotations that were perfect for Harry, particularly when contrasted with the traditional associations of yew, from which Voldemort’s wand is made. European tradition has it that the holly tree (the name comes from ‘holy’) repels evil, while yew, which can achieve astonishing longevity (there are British yew trees over two thousand years old), can symbolise both death and resurrection; the sap is also poisonous.

Some time after I had given Harry his holly-and-phoenix wand I came across a description of how the Celts had assigned trees to different parts of the year and discovered that, entirely by coincidence, I had assigned Harry the ‘correct’ wood for his day of birth. I therefore decided to give Ron and Hermione Celtic wand woods, too. Ron, who was born in the February 18 – March 17 period, was given an ash wand (I think I had originally marked him down for beech), and Hermione, who was born between September 2 and September 29, received a vine wood wand (I can’t remember what I originally stipulated for Hermione; possibly I had not specified a wood for her at that stage).

I have only used the Celtic assignations for Ron and Hermione. Hagrid, for instance, has an oak wand though by this Celtic system he should have a wand made of elder; in Britain, the oak is ‘King of the Forest’ and symbolises strength, protection and fecundity; what other wood could ‘choose’ Hagrid? In any case, I liked having a hidden connection between Harry, Ron and Hermione’s wands that only I knew about (until now, anyway).

For those who are interested in the trees assigned to the different parts of the Celtic year, below is the chart that I used. I apologise to any Celtic tree experts out there for any inaccuracies I may have reproduced (I have found slight variations between sources since I first came across this information.)

December 24 – January 20 = Birch (Beth)

January 21 – February 17 = Rowan (Luis)

February 18 – March 17 = Ash (Nion)

March 18 – April 14 = Alder (Fearn)

April 15 – May 12 = Willow (Saille)

May 13 – June 9 = Hawthorn (Huath)

June 10 – July 7 = Oak (Duir)

July 8 – August 4 = Holly (Tinne)

August 5 – September 1 = Hazel (Coll)

September 2 – September 29 = Vine (Muin)

September 30 – October 27 = Ivy (Gort)

October 28 – November 24 = Reed (Ngetal)

November 25 – December 23 = Elder (Ruis)

The Irish Quidditch team and West Ham Football Club

The Irish Quidditch team players are all named after people I have known. ‘Moran’, ‘Troy’ and ‘Quigley,’ are good friends. ‘Troy’ is one of my very oldest friends and she also happens to be a passionate supporter of West Ham Football Club. It is in her honour that the only soccer team ever mentioned in the books is West Ham.

The Elder Wand

I decided that the core of the Elder Wand is the tail hair of a Thestral; a powerful and tricky substance that can be mastered only by a witch or wizard capable of facing death.


I have been asked all sorts of questions about Squibs since I first introduced the concept in ‘Chamber of Secrets’. A Squib is almost the opposite of a Muggle-born wizard: he or she is a non-magical person born to at least one magical parent. Squibs are rare; magic is a dominant and resilient gene.

Squibs would not be able to attend Hogwarts as students. They are often doomed to a rather sad kind of half-life (yes, you should be feeling sorry for Filch), as their parentage often means that they will be exposed to, if not immersed in, the wizarding community, but can never truly join it. Sometimes they find a way to fit in; Filch has carved himself a niche at Hogwarts and Arabella Figg operates as Dumbledore’s liaison between the magical and Muggle worlds. Neither of these characters can perform magic (Filch’s Kwikspell course never worked), but they still function within the wizarding world because they have access to certain magical objects and creatures that can help them (Arabella Figg does a roaring trade in cross-bred cats and Kneazles, and if you don‘t know what a Kneazle is yet, shame on you). Incidentally, Arabella Figg never saw the Dementors that attacked Harry and Dudley, but she had enough magical knowledge to identify correctly the sensations they created in the alleyway.

Spell Definitions

Every now and then somebody asks me for the difference between a spell, a charm and a hex. Within the Potter world, the boundaries are flexible, and I imagine that wizards may have their own ideas. Hermione-ish, however, I’ve always had a working theory:


The generic term for a piece of magic.


Does not fundamentally alter the properties of the subject of the spell, but adds, or changes, properties. Turning a teacup into a rat would be a spell, whereas making a teacup dance would be a charm. The grey area comes with things like ‘Stunning Spells’, which on balance I think are Charms, but which I call spells for alliterative effect.


Has a connotation of dark magic, as do jinxes, but of a minor sort. I see ‘hex’ as slightly worse. I usually use ‘jinx’ for spells whose effects are irritating but amusing.


Reserved for the worst kinds of dark magic.

Places to Write

It is no secret that the best place to write, in my opinion, is a cafe; you don’t have to make your own coffee, you don’t feel that you are in solitary confinement while you work and when inspiration fails, you can take a walk to the next cafe while your batteries re-charge. In my opinion, the best writing cafe is just crowded enough so that you blend in, but not so crowded that you end up sharing a table with somebody who tries to read chapter twenty upside down, has staff who don’t glower at you if you sit there too long (though these days I can afford to keep ordering coffees even if I don’t drink them, so that’s less of a problem) and doesn’t play very loud music, which is the only noise that disturbs me when I’m writing.


Owls feature in many superstitions across the world. To the Greeks, the owl was emblematic of Athena, goddess of wisdom and war, and if an owl was sighted flying over the Greek army prior to battle it was considered an omen of victory. To the Romans, on the other hand, the owl was an unlucky creature that predicted death and disaster. In Britain there is a superstition that it is unlucky to see an owl by daylight, a superstition I had fun with in the first chapter of ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ where, of course, the sudden explosion of owls flying by daylight represented something very lucky indeed, though the Muggles did not know it.

My wizards’ owls reflect their personality to a certain extent. Poor Ron gets Pigwidgeon, who is a Scops (these are very small owls with ears – cute, but distinctly unshowy). Poor exhausted Errol is a Great Gray, which in my opinion is the most comical-looking owl in the world – just Google the Great Gray to see what I mean. Naturally I gave my hero what I consider to be the most beautiful owl of the lot: the Snowy Owl, which also goes by the name of Ghost Owl. These are not native to Britain, so I felt that she would give Harry kudos at Hogwarts (there is no other snowy owl there, as I trust you have noticed). However, any owl expert would tell you that Hedwig is strangely atypical of her breed. Only after Philosopher’s Stone had been accepted for publication did I realise that Snowy Owls are diurnal. I think it was during the writing of ‘Chamber of Secrets’ that I discovered that Snowy Owls are also virtually silent, the females being even quieter than the males. So all of Hedwig’s night-time jaunts and her many reproving hoots may be taken as signs of her great magical ability or my pitiful lack of research, whichever you prefer.

(Incidentally: there has been a spate of stories in the press recently concerning the upswing in popularity of keeping owls as pets, allegedly as a result of the Harry Potter books. If it is true that anybody has been influenced by my books to think that an owl would be happiest shut in a small cage and kept in a house, I would like to take this opportunity to say as forcefully as I can: please don’t.)


… which means, ‘never asked question’.

Why did Dumbledore have James’ invisibility cloak at the time of James’ death, given that Dumbledore could make himself invisible without a cloak?

Prior to posting this I had a quick look on-line, and realised that some fans have been speculating about this question. However, nobody has ever asked me about it, and they really should have done. Just to allay the fears of the justifiably suspicious, this isn’t what we in the know call ‘a Mark Evans situation.’* There IS a significant – even crucial – answer.

* Note to newcomers: my attempt to put to rest certain wild theories about the unimportant character of ‘Mark Evans’ backfired when I inadvertently built up even more excitement by promising to explain his significance.

Minesweeper Update

Just thought you might like to know that my personal best for Expert Level Minesweeper is now ninety nine seconds. This goes to show how much time I have been spending at this computer, typing ‘The Half-Blood Prince’. To those who suggest that I might get on even faster if I stopped taking Minesweeper breaks, I shall turn a deaf ear. It’s either Minesweeper or smoking, I can’t write if I have to give up both.


In the bad old days, when I wanted a few minutes’ break while writing, I used to light up a cigarette. I gave up smoking in the year 2000 and now chew a lot of gum instead (hence the state of my desk). However, chewing a bit of gum does not give you an excuse for a nice little brain-resting break, so instead I like to escape the complexities of the latest plot by playing a quick game of Minesweeper. Since giving up smoking I must boastfully inform you that I have become rather good and that my current best time for expert level is 101 seconds.

Meeting Melissa and Emerson

The plans for publication of Half-Blood Prince were underway and I was trying to think of a way to solve a recurring problem: the frustration often felt by dedicated (older) Potter fans at the fact that I am rarely posed the questions they most want asked. The solution, I decided, would be a face-to-face interview with one or two true emissaries of the diehard fans, capable of hitting me with the tough, book-seven-exploring, backstory-probing, inconsistency-highlighting, character-analysing questions that I hardly ever get round to answering, and certainly not at book launch time. My feeling was that even if I said I couldn’t answer – because I didn’t want to ruin theories or give too much away (or because I didn’t know the answer!) – you would at least have the satisfaction of knowing that I had been put on the spot by people who knew where the spot was. So how was I going to find the inquisitors?

Well, I could pretend it was difficult, but I wouldn’t be fooling anyone; the answer was right under my nose; in fact, if it had been any closer I would have snorted it up as surely as I snorted a well-known fizzy drink during the resultant interview. Yes, step forwards Melissa Anelli, founder of The Leaky Cauldron fansite, and Emerson Spartz, founder of Mugglenet. (Links to both can be found in the ‘fansite’ section of this website).

Why Melissa and Emerson? Because I knew, from having trawled their sites, that they know their Harry Potter back to front, that they care, not only about the books, but about the community of fans on the net, and that they were clever and funny and that I was going to enjoy meeting them at least as much as they would enjoy meeting me.

So I called them. Melissa had been tipped off to expect a call, but the ear-piercing shriek that met my words of introduction told me that she hadn’t guessed what it was all about. She was available and happy to come – one down.

I was worried that Emerson, who was not expecting anything at all, might simply hang up on me; as I heard his Dad walking away from the telephone to fetch him I was trying to think of way to prove it was really me and not some angry Harry/Hermione shipper trying to lure him down a dark alleyway. However, I didn’t need to offer an impromptu quiz on the sub-plots of books one to five; he believed me, he could make it: we were set!

I must say that I was impressed and moved by how many fellow fans posted congratulations to them when they announced on their sites that they would be interviewing me. The thrust of most comments was that they deserved the interview as a reward for all their hard work; it was uplifting to see so many people express generous and fair-minded good wishes!

I knew they were somewhere around on launch night, but didn’t see them. Not until Saturday afternoon did I finally come face-to-face with them, in the office beside my house where my long-suffering PA deals with mountains of post. I was so excited as I went through the door… for one thing, I had not yet spoken to a single fan who had finished the book…

And there they were, waiting for me. I had met Melissa twice before, though each time for no longer than it took to squeak excitedly at each other; she is (for those of you who don’t know) a good-looking redhead who shares my taste in both coffee and shoes (she presented me with some truly ambrosial coffee, available only in the States, and I openly coveted her faux-snakeskin heels). Emerson is about seven feet tall (or that’s how he looked from my 5′ 5″) and has extraordinarily long, very blue eyes; he, too, had brought presents, including a key representing the freedom of LaPorte, Indiana, accompanied by a proclamation signed by the Mayor. No, not kidding. ‘Well, it’s hard trying to think of stuff you can’t buy for yourself,’ he said as I gazed at these items, dumbstruck.

We laughed at the strangeness of the situation – it was a little like a three-cornered blind date – and then settled down to talk properly. They were both, as I had known they would be, wonderful. Funny, bright, completely committed to getting some proper answers out of me. We were supposed to be together an hour: two had passed before any of us noticed and if I hadn’t had a baby to feed, I think we could have gone on most of the night.

The transcript of the interview, plus their own individual reports on their time in Edinburgh, can be read on and on I will only say that I hope you enjoy reading the interview as much as I enjoyed giving it. In the meantime, I am making enquiries as to what I am allowed to do in LaPorte now that I have the key.

Harry Potters

There are quite a few real Harry Potters out there. So far I have heard of a newborn baby who actually has Harry’s full name (Harry James Potter), a barrister in London, a grandfather who was very pleased that he had become cool in his grandchildren’s eyes, a soldier who died in the second world war (I was sent a picture of his tombstone) and a clockmaker who worked in London in the last century.

For Girls Only, Probably…

Being thin. Probably not a subject that you ever expected to read about on this website, but my recent trip to London got me thinking…

It started in the car on the way to Leavesden film studios. I whiled away part of the journey reading a magazine that featured several glossy photographs of a very young woman who is either seriously ill or suffering from an eating disorder (which is, of course, the same thing); anyway, there is no other explanation for the shape of her body. She can talk about eating absolutely loads, being terribly busy and having the world’s fastest metabolism until her tongue drops off (hooray! Another couple of ounces gone!), but her concave stomach, protruding ribs and stick-like arms tell a different story. This girl needs help, but, the world being what it is, they’re sticking her on magazine covers instead. All this passed through my mind as I read the interview, then I threw the horrible thing aside.

But blow me down if the subject of girls and thinness didn’t crop up shortly after I got out of the car. I was talking to one of the actors and, somehow or other, we got onto the subject of a girl he knows (not any of the Potter actresses – somebody from his life beyond the films) who had been dubbed ‘fat’ by certain charming classmates. (Could they possibly be jealous that she knows the boy in question? Surely not!)

‘But,’ said the actor, in honest perplexity, ‘she is really not fat.’

‘”Fat” is usually the first insult a girl throws at another girl when she wants to hurt her,’ I said; I could remember it happening when I was at school, and witnessing it among the teenagers I used to teach. Nevertheless, I could see that to him, a well-adjusted male, it was utterly bizarre behaviour, like yelling ‘thicko!’ at Stephen Hawking.

His bemusement at this everyday feature of female existence reminded me how strange and sick the ‘fat’ insult is. I mean, is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’, ‘boring’ or ‘cruel’? Not to me; but then, you might retort, what do I know about the pressure to be skinny? I’m not in the business of being judged on my looks, what with being a writer and earning my living by using my brain…

I went to the British Book Awards that evening. After the award ceremony I bumped into a woman I hadn’t seen for nearly three years. The first thing she said to me? ‘You’ve lost a lot of weight since the last time I saw you!’

‘Well,’ I said, slightly nonplussed, ‘the last time you saw me I’d just had a baby.’

What I felt like saying was, ‘I’ve produced my third child and my sixth novel since I last saw you. Aren’t either of those things more important, more interesting, than my size?’ But no – my waist looked smaller! Forget the kid and the book: finally, something to celebrate!

So the issue of size and women was (ha, ha) weighing on my mind as I flew home to Edinburgh the next day. Once up in the air, I opened a newspaper and my eyes fell, immediately, on an article about the pop star Pink.

Her latest single, ‘Stupid Girls’, is the antidote-anthem for everything I had been thinking about women and thinness. ‘Stupid Girls’ satirises the talking toothpicks held up to girls as role models: those celebrities whose greatest achievement is un-chipped nail polish, whose only aspiration seems to be getting photographed in a different outfit nine times a day, whose only function in the world appears to be supporting the trade in overpriced handbags and rat-sized dogs.

Maybe all this seems funny, or trivial, but it’s really not. It’s about what girls want to be, what they’re told they should be, and how they feel about who they are. I’ve got two daughters who will have to make their way in this skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me, because I don’t want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I’d rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny – a thousand things, before ‘thin’. And frankly, I’d rather they didn’t give a gust of stinking chihuahua flatulence whether the woman standing next to them has fleshier knees than they do. Let my girls be Hermiones, rather than Pansy Parkinsons. Let them never be Stupid Girls. Rant over.

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Rubbish Bin: Recycled (Desktop Website)

Index ID: RB4DW — Publication date: October 4th, 2004 to August 10th, 2005

Harry Potter based on JKR’s cousin

Once more I put fingers to keyboard to state wearily that Harry is a completely imaginary character. He is not based on any of the men I have met during my lifetime who wore glasses, or any of the boys who had a scar somewhere on their face, or any of my friends who went to boarding school.

But wait – now I stop and think about it, I’M the real Harry Potter! I wear glasses, I’ve got a scar, my school had houses, I sometimes got into trouble… so stand by to read a story in some tabloid tomorrow headlined: ‘Rowling Demands Half-Share of Own Royalties’.

Unfortunately and depressingly, these sorts of stories crop up all the time (see my ‘Biography’). There is nothing any author can do to stop people claiming that they ‘inspired’ characters. I can only tell the truth and trust that readers with a grain of sense will know whom to believe.

Dr. Neil Murray ‘gives up work’

Last year several newspaper stories alleged that my husband had given up work, presumably to sit at home and watch me write. This is one of those stories that make me angry, because they hurt my family. We asked the newspapers who had printed the misinformation to correct the story, which they did. However, an article has recently appeared in which Neil is yet again described as not working. So… and hopefully for the last time… Neil has NEVER given up work and continues to practise as a doctor in Edinburgh.

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Rubbish Bin: Toxic (Desktop Website)

Index ID: RB3DW — Publication date: September 16th, 2004 to November 15th, 2007

Gilderoy Lockhart is based on JKR’s first husband

No, he most certainly is not. I have always been honest about the fact that Gilderoy Lockhart WAS inspired by a real man (see the ‘Extras’ section). For obvious reasons I am not going to identify the person in question – however irritating he was, he does not deserve that – but I can state categorically that I never married him. I do not lie about the inspiration for characters (although at times like these, I wonder why I don’t refuse to answer these questions at all!)

J K Rowling demands 2 million rupees from religious charities in India

Recently there were a number of reports that Warner Bros. and I had taken legal action against religious charities in India because they constructed a Hogwarts castle as part of a Hindu festival. Here are the facts.

The defendants were not religious charities, and theirs was not a religious celebration. On the contrary, it was a large-scale, commercial, sponsored event involving corporations that included a major Indian high street bank. The event was, however, set up while a Hindu festival was going on.

It was Warner Bros who brought the case, because the rights that were being infringed belong to them, not me. My name has to be attached to such proceedings as a legal technicality, because I am the underlying creator of Harry Potter series.

Also due to a technicality, Warner Bros were obliged to claim damages as part of their claim. However, they waived this right, and neither sought nor obtained any financial compensation. It is completely false to assert that they, or I, were trying to take money from anybody, let alone two million rupees.

The court ruled that Warner Bros. rights had indeed been infringed, and that events such as the one in question would need Warner Bros.’ permission in the future. The court also restrained all the defendants from any future events infringing Warner Bros. rights.

Some of the news agencies and newspapers who misreported this story subsequently issued corrections and apologies, but the original, false story is still doing the rounds. In the immortal words of Mark Twain, ‘a lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can even get its boots on.’

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Rubbish Bin: Mouldy (Desktop Website)

Index ID: RB2DW — Publication date: September 16th, 2004

Hailes ‘undoubtedly a primitive forerunner of Quidditch’

When the first Harry Potter book was published several stories appeared claiming that Quidditch was based on a variety of obscure, and not so obscure, games, some of which, like Hailes, were only ever played in particular British schools. Quidditch has even been described as ‘soccer-like’ on several occasions, which is nonsensical to anybody familiar with the rules of both games. (I am sure this misunderstanding sprang originally from the fact that Ron says to Harry in ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ ‘it’s like football in the Muggle world’, but Ron is referring only to the sport’s immense popularity, not to the game itself.)

I did not base Quidditch on any game that exists, or existed, in reality. Finding the ‘real’ counterpart of things that appear in the Harry Potter books has become a popular newspaper space-filler. The funny thing is that occasionally people miss what I have thought are glaringly obvious references to things and people in the real world. Ah well.

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Rumours (Desktop Website)

Index ID: RUMDW — Publication date: May 16th, 2004 to February 29th, 2008

Harry will be asked to become Minister of Magic in book seven

Seventeen is much too young to enter politics.

I am ‘Witch No. 1’ in the film of ‘Chamber of Secrets’.

Nope, not true, sorry. The filmmakers did ask me to play Lily Potter in the Mirror of Erised scene in the first film, but I really am not cut out to be an actress, even one who just has to stand there and wave. I would have messed it up somehow.

Book six is going to be called ‘Harry Potter and the Green Flame Torch’ or ‘the Mountain of Fantasy’ and book seven is going to be called ‘Harry Potter and the Fortress of Shadows’ or ‘the Forest of Shadows’

Not even close! Who makes these up?! And this green torch business seems to be cropping up everywhere. Do you really think getting rid of Voldemort would be that easy?

Professor Lupin has a twin

No, but this obviously sprang from the fact that Lupin’s Christian name (Remus) comes from one of the mythical founders of Rome who had a twin called ‘Romulus’. (They were raised by wolves, incidentally).

Neville Longbottom is Peter Pettigrew’s son

See response for ‘Lily Potter was a Death Eater’ above.

Crookshanks is an Animagus

No, he’s not, but he’s not pure cat either. If you buy Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (all royalties to Comic Relief, which means you’re helping some of the poorest children around the world) you might just be able to work out what Crookshanks really is.

I am going to write a book about Lily and James once I’ve finished the seven books about Harry Potter

Hmm… once again, too much Star Wars can do this to a person. No prequels are planned.

Lily Potter Was Once a Death Eater

How dare you?!

Lily Potter is still alive

No, afraid not.

Voldemort is Harry’s real father/grandfather/close relative of some description

No, no, no, no, no. You lot have been watching much too much Star Wars. James is DEFINITELY Harry’s father. Doesn’t everybody Harry meets say ‘you look just like your father’? And hasn’t Dumbledore already told Harry that Voldemort is the last surviving descendent of Salazar Slytherin? Just to clarify – this means that Harry is NOT a descendent of Salazar Slytherin.

Professor Dumbledore is Harry’s real grandfather/close relative of some description.

If Dumbledore had been Harry’s grandfather, why on earth would he have been sent to live with the Dursleys?

The mysterious ‘Icicle’

I have been told that I once promised a character with this name during an interview. I can only think that somebody misheard what I said because at no stage have I ever planned a character called ‘Icicle.’ Professor Bicycle, on the other hand, will be a key figure in books six and seven.* *this is a joke

JKR is deadly serious when she forbids people to call Voldemort ‘Voldy’

Erm… I was joking. I thought it was very amusing when I found a chat room full of people calling him ‘Voldy’. Maybe I should develop a secret symbol that means ‘this is a joke’, a kind of anti-Dark Mark? And incidentally… I wasn’t really Squidward that day in the MuggleNet chat room, either. That’s a SpongeBob SquarePants in-joke. I used a different name. So you can all stop logging on as Squidward now 😉

The text on the book behind the (ahem) impossible-to-open door means something highly significant.

It doesn’t; it’s simply filler, as many of you knew. (And if you don’t understand what I’m talking about here, you weren’t online when a clever Potter fan hacked his way through the door with the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on it.)

JKR is not really talking on this site, but instructing other people to write on her behalf.

It’s definitely me.

Book Six is called ‘The Toenail of Icklibõgg’

Well, if you believed the ‘Storgé’ one…

Book Six is called ‘The Pillar of Storgé’

I am trying very hard not to feel offended that anyone thought this was possible. ‘Storgé’, for crying out loud. Come on, people, get a grip.

Gideon and Fabian Prewett were Molly Weasley’s brothers

Yes, they were, but their history is not particularly significant in terms of the overall plot, except in so far as their deaths obviously explain and excuse some of Mrs. Weasley’s fears and her arguably over-protective stance with regard to Harry.

The Order of the Phoenix communicates using chocolate frog cards

This is such a great idea that I was in two minds whether to shoot it down; however, a chocolate frog card, or any object that would have to be remembered and carried on the person, would always be vulnerable to loss, destruction or trickery. The Order communicates in a way that requires nothing but a wand. You saw the Order’s method of communication in use even before you knew about the existence of the Order; it was employed by an Order member.

The Lestranges were sent after Neville to kill him

No, they weren’t, they were very definitely sent after Neville’s parents. I can’t say too much about this because it touches too closely on the prophecy and how many people knew about it, but the Lestranges were not in on the secret.

Luna and Neville will hook up in HP&THBP

The Luna/Neville shippers are much less vehement and scary than the Harry/Hermione, Ron/Hermione tribes, so I hope I won’t receive too much hate mail for quashing this rumour. I see Neville and Luna as very different kinds of people and while they share a certain isolation within Hogwarts, I don’t think that’s enough to foster true love – friendship, perhaps, although I think that Neville would always find Luna’s wilder flights of fancy alarming.

Harry stands trial again in HP&THBP

This theory has been put forward to explain why Harry does not spend as long in Privet Drive during this book as previous ones, but I am happy to say that he leaves the Dursleys early for a much pleasanter reason than a court case.

‘Half-Blood Prince’ will have 38 chapters

Listen carefully, I shall say this only once: the only sources you should trust concerning information on the Half-Blood Prince are official spokespeople for my publishers and my official website. As a spokesperson for Bloomsbury, my UK publisher, has already said, HBP is shorter than Order of the Phoenix, and I can tell you now that it has fewer than 38 chapters. Let’s face it: it wouldn’t be a new Harry Potter book if hoaxers didn’t pop up regularly on the net claiming to know new characters or plot-lines, or to have found stray chapters lying around a printer’s back yard. I can’t waste time denying each and every lunatic rumour, because I’ve got editing to do! So let’s agree here and now that each of these ‘claims’ comes with a free barrel of salt and rise together above the madness.

The painting on the wall of the study Means Something

Well, it means something to me. Lightmaker asked me a couple of weeks ago who my favourite artist is and I didn’t know why until I opened the door myself, but there it was, a little Caravaggio hanging on my study wall – a fantasy Christmas present if ever there was one.

The questions and riddles we had to answer before retrieving the secret message behind the door on 20th December are clues to the plot of ‘Half-Blood Prince’.

I was thinking of cracker riddles when I made up these challenges (crackers are a British Christmas institution; for those who don’t know, they are wrapped and decorated cardboard tubes that typically contain a paper hat, a present – usually something small and plastic – and a joke or riddle. Two people take an end of the cracker and pull it apart; it goes off with a loud bang, or crack, due to what a quick Google search informs me is ‘a strip of chemically impregnated paper’. You generally pull a cracker prior to eating your Christmas dinner, so that you can wear the stupid hat for photographs). Anyway: the riddles and jokes you find within crackers have no deeper meaning or significance and nor, I’m afraid, do mine. You all worked out very quickly that the riddle answers made ‘Half-Blood Prince’, but the three questions relating to Harry, Ron and Hermione relate firmly to past, and not future, books – nothing to do with the publication date, not an anagram, not a clue to the plot of HBP. I greatly enjoyed the facetious speculation about the corned beef-loving otters from Bristol, though.

There will be a chapter in Half-Blood Prince called ‘Lupin’s Papers’

I’ve already answered this in FAQs, but as this rumour is still cropping up in fan letters I thought I’d reiterate here that there will be NO chapter called ‘Lupin’s Papers’ in book six, nor will there be chapters entitled ‘Pettigrew’s Pamphlets,’ ‘Sirius’s Circulars’ or ‘the Pocket Crosswords of Severus Snape’. Let me remind you once again that any ‘information’ about the contents of ‘Half-Blood Prince’ should be treated with extreme scepticism unless it comes from this website or from my publishers or agent. The silly season is upon us; there’s bound to be an ‘inside leak’, ie, total fabrication, any time now.

Colin and Dennis Creevey will be the new Gryffindor Beaters

Nice idea, but no. The new Gryffindor Beaters will be completely new finds of the new Captain’s.

Nicolas Flamel is going to come to Hogwarts to teach potions

Flamel has now died; Dumbledore explained in ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ that his old friend was going to choose death rather than allow his stone to fall into the wrong hands.

Dumbledore is really Ron/Harry ‘from the future’

Your inventiveness knows no bounds, and I do not mean that sarcastically; these theories open up exhilarating new vistas of possibility… but they’re wrong. Could it be that by speculating that Harry/Ron becomes Dumbledore, you are seeking reassurance that neither dies young? I’ve also heard a whisper about Ron and Hermione’s son time-travelling, so I shall go further and tell you that NONE of the characters in the books has returned from the future. As for the idea of Ron and Hermione having a son… (chuckles as the distant roars of a million shippers reach my ears, all cursing me to an eternity of unsatisfied curiosity).

The last part of the prophecy (‘neither can live while the other survives’) means that Harry and Neville will have to kill each other

Inventive and intriguing, but wrong. See the answer to the poll question for a little more elucidation on Neville’s relation to the prophecy.

Luna is Snape’s daughter

This is a most tantalising idea, but no, Mr. Lovegood, the editor of ‘the Quibbler’, really is Luna’s father and Snape does not have a daughter.

The Sorting Hat is a Horcrux

No, it isn’t. Horcruxes do not draw attention to themselves by singing songs in front of large audiences.

Lupin will come back as DADA teacher

Alas, no. Lupin’s exposure as a werewolf did irreparable damage to his prospects for a career in teaching, and with the likes of Fenrir Greyback out there, werewolves are unlikely to receive a good press any time soon.

Harry is a Metamorphmagus

A Metamorphmagus is a wizard who has the innate ability to transform their appearance completely, for instance, from black to white, young to old, handsome to plain and so on. In Harry’s extreme youth, he produced some impressive bits of uncontrolled magic when under stress, including making his own hair re-grow overnight after a particularly brutal haircut from Aunt Petunia (a dream that had its roots in my own childhood. My mother, God bless her, had the idea that she was much more skilled with the kitchen scissors than she really was, and I had a couple of shockingly dreadful ‘trims’ at her hands. How I wished that I could simply stick it all back on…) Anyway: before they have received training, very young witches and wizards are prone to unstable surges of power, often accidentally producing effects that they may have to train for a few years to be able to reproduce deliberately. Their magical ability is bottled up for weeks at a time and then, when made angry or frightened, it simply explodes out of them, sometimes (as in the case of the vanishing glass in the chapter of the same name, ‘Philosopher’s Stone) causing at least as much inconvenience to themselves as others. So Harry is not a Metamorphmagus – just a boy who was clearly magical from birth.

Mrs. Norris is an unregistered Animagus

No, she’s just an intelligent (and unpleasant) cat.

Book Seven will be called ‘Harry Potter and the Pyramids of Furmat’

The Pyramids of Furmat lie a few miles east of the famous Fortress of Shadows, not far from the magnificent Pillar of Storgé. Many tourists prefer to view these ancient monuments at night, when they are illuminated by the Green Flame Torch.

Peter Pettigrew’s silver hand will be used to kill Remus Lupin

Nice idea, clearly predicated on the legend that only a silver bullet can kill a werewolf – but incorrect.

Aunt Petunia will start exhibiting magical tendencies

No, she won’t. Aunt Petunia has never performed magic, nor will she ever be able to do so.

Leaky Mug: the wedding of Melissa Anelli and Emerson Spartz

Ah, Memerson… will any of us ever forget that whirlwind April marriage? OK, so it didn’t work out – but don’t be bitter. After all, in the brief twenty-four hours you remained together, you made something beautiful and lasting: the best little Wall of Shame any spoofily-wedded webmasters could wish for. I think I speak for many of us when I say: thanks for the laughter, thanks for the memories and thanks for the opportunity to read a whole year’s worth of abuse in ten minutes*. * If none of this makes any sense to you, see, and/or It still might not make sense, though.

The W.O.M.B.A.T.* was graded to ensure that everybody passed

There were many variations on this rumour, for instance, you only needed two correct answers for an ‘Outstanding’, one for ‘Exceeds Expectations’, and everybody else got an ‘Acceptable’. I have also been asked whether grades were assigned at random. All such rumours are false. I wrote the examination, determined the marking scheme (which was quite complicated) and set the Grade levels, so you can take it from me, as the sole examiner, that if you received ‘Acceptable’ or higher you really earned your grade. Of course, this meant that some people had to fail, but what would be the point of putting you through all that work without giving you honestly earned rewards? Incidentally, shame on the people who thought the whole thing was a twisted April Fool’s joke. For one thing, the exam actually went up on March 31st. For another – when have I ever been that cruel?? *In case you missed it, the W.O.M.B.A.T. test was revealed when the ‘Do Not Disturb’ door last opened. Another (more advanced) W.O.M.B.A.T. will appear in due course.

Stubby Boardman is Regulus Black

No, he isn’t. Nice idea, though.

Book Seven will be called “Harry Potter and the Graveyard of Memories”

Wow, I never thought of that! Now I’ve got three titles to choose from! Only kidding. It won’t be called HP & the GOM.

Snape was hiding under the Invisibility Cloak on the night the Potters died

No, he wasn’t.

At the end of book seven, Harry and Voldemort will ‘merge’ to form a single persona who will command both the forces of good and of evil

This is not really a rumour, more a lone theory on the net that the son of a friend of mine pointed out to me. He wants me to repudiate it, so I’m repudiating: Harry will NOT merge with Voldemort to become a single entity, nor would Harry ever wish to command Death Eaters/Dementors/Inferi.

The announcement of the publication date on JKR’s website was unusually brief. This means that JKR is unhappy about the date.

This could not be further from the truth! The 21st July publication date has given me enough time to write the book I wanted to write, and for the manuscript to be properly edited. These are the most important things to me. An earlier date – eg, 7/7/07 – would have meant that either the writing or editing was rushed, and neither my publishers nor I wanted that. Any brevity in my announcement was down to the fact that I was busy editing!

One of the ‘J K Rowling’s on the social networking sites must be the real one.

No, sorry, not even one of them, though they do seem to lead very exciting lives, these fake J K Rowlings. I like to imagine them partying with all my imaginary friends (‘a close friend confided…’) in some bright and shiny alternative universe. But meanwhile, on planet earth, the dull human J K Rowling hasn’t got, and has never had, a profile on MySpace, Bebo or any similar site.

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Diary (Desktop Website)

Index ID: DIADW — Publication date: May 15th, 2004 to December 7th, 2007


Until very recently, was a list of links to my publishers – boring, I think you’ll agree. So I thought I’d liven it up a little.

I receive so many thousands and thousands of letters these days that it is impossible to read, let alone answer, them all. A proper website seems like a great way to communicate directly with Harry Potter fans. Everything on here was written by ME, J. K. Rowling. This is where I can tell you the truth about rumours or news stories, where I can share the extra information I haven’t put in the books, where I can give you hints and clues about what’s going to happen to Harry next, and where I can announce I’ve finished book seven… and no, that’s not going to happen very soon.

Occasionally the Dark Mark will flash at you. This is a SPOILER WARNING. It refers only to information hidden in book five, The Order of the Phoenix – if you haven’t yet finished reading the other four, proceed at your peril!

Anyway, I really hope you enjoy wandering around my desk (which was specially tidied for your visit). Don’t knock anything over, please. And watch out for Peeves.

With love from JK Rowling
(Jo to you)


That tired old welcome page was starting to bug me, so I thought I’d give you something new for Christmas. I’ve tried keeping a diary many times in the past and never got much further than January 15th, but I’ve been feeling the need for a place to put everyday updates that don’t qualify as real ‘news’. As ever, if there is a quiet spell you should not take it as a sign that I’ve given up diary writing, but rather that I am working hard on something a little more eagerly anticipated…

For 2006 will be the year when I write the final book in the Harry Potter series. I contemplate the task with mingled feelings of excitement and dread, because I can’t wait to get started, to tell the final part of the story and, at last, to answer all the questions (will I ever answer all of the questions? Let’s aim for most of the questions); and yet it will all be over at last and I can’t quite imagine life without Harry.

However (clears throat in stern British manner) this is no time to get maudlin.

I have been fine-tuning the fine-tuned plan of seven during the past few weeks so that I can really set to work in January. Reading through the plan is like contemplating the map of an unknown country in which I will soon find myself. Sometimes, even at this stage, you can see trouble looming; nearly all of the six published books have had Chapters of Doom. The quintessential, never, I hope, to be beaten Chapter That Nearly Broke My Will To Go On was chapter nine, ‘Goblet of Fire’ (appropriately enough, ‘The Dark Mark’.)

As for this website, I’ve got plans… you’ll find out what they are in due course (constant vigilance, my friends). In the meantime, happy holidays to everyone, and if Father Christmas has already squeezed down your chimney, I hope he left something good.


New Year’s Writing Resolutions

  1. Muck out my study.
    My study is easily the messiest room in the house, and probably our street; I won’t say in the whole of Edinburgh, because there must be a squat somewhere that’s worse. Frankly, I shudder to think what I will find when I finally reach the bottom of all these teetering piles of garbage. However, as I currently have to negotiate an assault course just to reach my desk I think the time has come for my annual tidy-up.
  2. Do not lose any more notebooks.
    After a somewhat panicky few weeks I have finally located a missing notebook. As always when I mislay these things, I had been ‘remembering’, in its absence, that it contained notes so essential and ideas so imaginative that I would never be able to duplicate them, and the whole of the next book would be impoverished if they were never found. Now that I have said notebook beside me on this desk, however, I see that it contains few useful nuggets amid a lot of complete dross. Nevertheless, the stress I endured while believing it to be the notebook equivalent of the Holy Grail was enough to remind me that I must take better care of my working materials.
  3. Be ruthless about protecting writing days
    , ie, do not cave in to endless requests to have ‘essential’ and ‘long overdue’ meetings on those days. The funny thing is that, although writing has been my actual job for several years now, I still seem to have to fight for time in which to do it. Some people do not seem to grasp that I still have to sit down in peace and write the books, apparently believing that they pop up like mushrooms without my connivance. I must therefore guard the time allotted to writing as a Hungarian Horntail guards its firstborn egg.
  4. Follow advice from critics on how to be a better writer.
    I always try to act on constructive criticism. When I fail, I attempt to embrace my faults and call them my ‘style’.
  5. Try and keep children healthy.
    As we leave behind the sickliest winter ever known in this family, I pray that none of my kids develops a runny nose for at least a week, thus enabling me to set about serious writing with at least a few hours’ sleep behind me.


Sometimes writing goes so smoothly that you feel as though you are simply taking dictation from your muse. In my case, this often happens after a period where I am unable to write, such as over the Christmas period (compounded this year by the children’s colds mentioned in the previous diary entry). It is as though all the ideas that ought to have leaked out in the usual intermittent fashion over the preceding couple of weeks explode out of my pen once I have a few hours in which to work. I am usually most productive when I have, or have recently had, limited time.

Of course, this heavenly state of affairs will not last, it never does. I’m bound to get all snarled up in a plot tangle, or else find myself temporarily stranded on the edge of a large hole in the story. Until then, however, I shall enjoy floating along on this flood of inspiration.


This always happens. I make a plan, it looks nice and neat, then I get to actually write the book and realise that Harry can’t possibly do all that in just one chapter. So what I thought were going to be two chapters have now become four. I still don’t think the book will be as long as ‘Phoenix’, but if that keeps happening… no, it won’t. I’m looking at the plan, and it can’t. Surely. Please.

Nothing else I can tell you at the moment. Well, there’s LOADS I could tell you at the moment, but I can’t. Sorry.


There is only one thing that annoys me about living in Edinburgh – well, two, but I’m pretty much resigned to the weather now. Why is it so difficult to buy paper in the middle of town? What is a writer who likes to write longhand supposed to do when she hits her stride and then realises, to her horror, that she has covered every bit of blank paper in her bag? Forty-five minutes it took me, this morning, to find somewhere that would sell me some normal, lined paper. And there’s a university here! What do the students use? Don’t tell me laptops, it makes me feel like something out of the eighteenth century.

The book’s still going well, I’m sure you’re pleased to hear, lack of paper notwithstanding. There was a small interruption last week so that I could go down to London for the British Book Awards, a.k.a. the Nibbies, which was a lot of fun, and rather thrilling as Half-Blood Prince won Book of the Year. I also took the opportunity to visit Leavesden (the studio where they make the Potter films), which I hadn’t done in ages due to being pregnant/having tiny babies for what feels like ages. It was exciting to see some of the new Order of the Phoenix sets, but most of all to see the actors again – slightly unnerving to realise that nearly all of them are taller than me now (I speak, of course, of the teenagers; Michael Gambon was always taller than me, and very lovely he looked in his new robes, too.) Apart from the pleasure of seeing Tom Felton, Devon Murray, Alfred Enoch, Sitara Shah (and waving through the door at Bonnie Wright, who was busy being tutored), I had a great time talking to Dan and Matthew about books, Rupert about how his sisters never wind him up, Oliver and James about how difficult they find it to wind each other up, and Emma about Hermione’s love life. Also met, and had a long chat, with Evanna Lynch (Luna), about whom there is only one possible thing to say: perfect.

MAY 10th

Be careful what you wish for, it might come true. Since complaining that I had difficulty finding anything to write on after running out of paper while working in town, I have been deluged with paper. Some of you sent single sheets, others entire pads, one enterprising paper merchants sent a large stack of notebooks embossed boldly with J K ROWLING, which I might not use in public, but which are very lovely all the same. Others took a different approach, telling me exactly where you can buy writing paper in Edinburgh; some even enclosed maps. Anyway, I’ve now got enough paper to write several book sevens, so no excuse there.

I’ve been having house-elf trouble this week, though I think I’ve got them sorted out now. I’m all for house-elf rights, but the author is dictator and the sooner they accept that, the better.


Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry. I know it’s been a very long time since I was last in touch. I’ve been writing a novel, you see.

My readings in New York with Stephen King and John Irving were so much fun. It’s not often that I do something like that and wish I could do it all over again, but I would have happily done a third night. If you were there, and yelling, thank you: the crowds, both nights, could not have been more wonderful.

I did mess up one answer, though. I was asked, ‘what question have you never been asked that you ought to have been asked?’ – or something very similar – and my mind went blank. Blame long years of trying not to give away the plot. But it occurred to me almost as soon as I got off stage that there IS a question I’ve always been surprised nobody’s put to me, and that I really should have said it while I was still on-stage. I can’t make amends to the girl who asked, but it is in tribute to her that I give the answer, belatedly, under ‘Miscellaneous’, Extras section.


Sitting at my desk trying to invent a word yesterday brought back memories of the last time I did so. I had tried for days and days to hit upon the right name for ‘the receptacle in which a Dark wizard has hidden a fragment of his soul for the purposes of attaining immortality.’ Finally, after much transposition of syllables, I scribbled ‘Horcrux’ on a piece of paper and knew it was The One. But what if somebody had already used it? With some trepidation I typed ‘Horcrux’ into Google and, to my delight, saw what I was looking for: ‘Your search – “Horcrux” – did not match any documents.’

So anyway, yesterday I Googled ‘Horcrux’ again. 401,000 results. As you might imagine, this gave me something of a lift as I went back to scribbling nonsense words on the back of a takeaway menu.


I’ve now got a third title. I’ve been thinking back, and I know that I’ve had more titles than this for a couple of the previous books, so I’m not too worried by this. Title three currently ahead by a short nose, or perhaps that should be a vowel and two consonants.

I’ve just had a great writing week. There are few feelings more joyous than reading back over the week’s work and thinking ‘that’s not bad at all’, as opposed to the all-too-frequent, ‘it’s rubbish, I’ve wasted a week and I’ll have to re-write the lot.’ And if you think that’s an exaggeration or false modesty, you are very, very wrong. It’s perfectly possible to put in eight hour days and have nothing to show for them but a single idea that, if reworked completely, might be passable.

Congratulations on your W.O.M.B.A.T. scores, incidentally. You’re getting pretty good.


The long lack of updates has been due to some very hard work. I’m now writing scenes that have been planned, in some cases, for a dozen years or even more. I don’t think anyone who has not been in a similar situation can possibly know how this feels: I am alternately elated and overwrought. I both want, and don’t want, to finish this book (don’t worry, I will.)

For years now, people have asked me whether I ever dream that I am ‘in’ Harry’s world. The answer was ‘no’ until a few nights ago, when I had an epic dream in which I was, simultaneously, Harry and the narrator. I was searching for a Horcrux in a gigantic, crowded hall, which bore no resemblance to the Great Hall as I imagine it. As the narrator I knew perfectly well that the Horcrux was jammed in a hidden nook in the fireplace, while as Harry I was searching for it in all kinds of other places, while trying to make the people around me say lines I had pre-arranged for them. Meanwhile waiters and waitresses who work in the real café in which I have written huge parts of book seven roamed around me as though on stilts, all of them at least fifteen feet high. Perhaps I should cut back on the caffeine?

I made another daytrip to Leavesden a few weeks ago, where I saw twenty minutes of Order of the Phoenix, which looks fantastic. Also got a chance, before they all took off in their different directions (it was the last week of live actor filming) to talk to Dan, Rupert, Emma and Evanna, which is always wonderful. Dan has changed his theory on Snape; he says he doesn’t want to be like one of those people who are photographed, beaming, next to mad dictators.


Charles Dickens put it better than I ever could:

‘It would concern the reader little, perhaps, to know how sorrowfully the pen is laid down at the close of a two-years’ imaginative task; or how an Author feels as if he were dismissing some portion of himself into the shadowy world, when a crowd of the creatures of his brain are going from him for ever.’

To which I can only sigh, try seventeen years, Charles…

I always knew that Harry’s story would end with the seventh book, but saying goodbye has been just as hard as I always knew it would be. Even while I’m mourning, though, I feel an incredible sense of achievement. I can hardly believe that I’ve finally written the ending I’ve been planning for so many years. I’ve never felt such a mixture of extreme emotions in my life, never dreamed I could feel simultaneously heartbroken and euphoric.

Some of you have expressed a (much more muted!) mixture of happiness and sadness at the prospect of the last book being published, and that has meant more than I can tell you. If it comes as any consolation, I think that there will be plenty to continue arguing and speculating about, even after ‘Deathly Hallows’ comes out. So if you’re not yet ready to quit the message boards, do not despair…

I’m almost scared to admit this, but one thing has stopped me collapsing in a puddle of misery on the floor. While each of the previous Potter books has strong claims on my affections, ‘Deathly Hallows’ is my favourite, and that is the most wonderful way to finish the series.

MAY 14th

A couple of weeks ago (April 28th, if you want to go and search the archive) the Potter fansite The Leaky Cauldron posted an editorial on potential spoilers for “Deathly Hallows”. It made me laugh, but I was also incredibly moved and grateful.

We’re a little under three months away, now, and the first distant rumblings of the weirdness that usually precedes a Harry Potter publication can be heard on the horizon. The Leaky Cauldron’s early mission statement on spoilers (ie, don’t, and we’re not putting them up if you do) is deeply appreciated by yours truly.

I add my own plea to Melissa’s for one reason, and one only: I want the readers who have, in many instances, grown up with Harry, to embark on the last adventure they will share with him without knowing where they are they going.

Some, perhaps, will read this and take the view that all publicity is good publicity, that spoilers are part of hype, and that I am trying to protect sales rather than my readership. However, spoilers won’t stop people buying the book, they never have – all it will do is diminish their pleasure in the book.

There will always be sad individuals who get their kicks from ruining other people’s fun, but while sites like Leaky take such an active stance against them, we may yet win. Even if the biggest secret gets out – even if somebody discovers the Giant Squid is actually the world’s largest Animagus, which rises from the lake at the eleventh hour, transforms into Godric Gryffindor and… well, I wouldn’t like to spoil it.

JULY 18th

We are almost there! As launch night looms, let’s all, please, ignore the misinformation popping up on the web and in the press on the plot of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I’d like to ask everyone who calls themselves a Potter fan to help preserve the secrecy of the plot for all those who are looking forward to reading the book at the same time on publication day. In a very short time you will know EVERYTHING!


Where did the last four months go? It feels as though Hallows was published, and then I slipped through some strange time portal in which everything went at double-quick time, only to be spat out in early December.

People keep saying to me, ‘I expect things have calmed down now you’ve finished?’ to which my answer some days is a fairly humourless laugh. I have been exceptionally busy since July, what with the US/Canadian tour, Beedle the Bard, assorted charitable commitments, a massive post-publication mountain of correspondence, plus those three children I insisted on bringing into the world. Consequence: neglect of website! However, I am putting up a few updates today in News (where you will see that I have also been busy with a documentary), FAQs and Extras. I hope to put up a few more titbits in due course.

The US/Canadian tour was my favourite ever. If anybody reading this was in the audience for any of those events, thank you, because they were only as wonderful as they were because of the brilliant questions and the overwhelming warmth of those present.

Delving even further back into the Lost Four Months, the launch of ‘Hallows’ at the Natural History Museum in London was also my favourite of all time, and to all those who queued so long and patiently, you were incredible, and I loved meeting every single one of you.

‘Deathly Hallows’ remains my favourite book of the series. I hope that, even if it is not yours, you understood, at least, that this was where the story was always leading; it was the ending I had planned for seventeen years, and there was more satisfaction than you can probably imagine in finally sharing it with my readers.

As for mourning Harry – and I doubt I will be believed when I say this – nobody can have felt the end as deeply as I did. The writing of Harry Potter has been inextricably linked with my life for seventeen years, and saying goodbye has been just as tough as I always knew it would be. So I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has written to me since publication, saying such wonderful things about what the books meant to them, because your words meant the world to me at this very bittersweet time.

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