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Original Synopsis of Philosopher’s Stone

Index ID: SYNHP1 — Publication date: May 15th, 2004

Note: In Rowling's own words, "the original synopsis of 'Philosopers Stone' which I sent out to Publishers and which kept wingin its way back!". The first part of the synopsis was shared on her website. The second part, from "mandres and wolfsbane are kept..." was available thanks to the British Library Exhibition and it was reproduced on the companion books of the event.

Harry Potter lives with his aunt, uncle and cousin because his parents died in a car-crash – or so he has always been told. The Dursleys don’t like Harry asking questinos; in fact, they don’t seem to like anything about him, especially the very odd things that keep happening around him (which Harry himself can’t explain).

The Dursleys’ greatest fear is that Harry will discover the truth about himself, so when letters start arriving for him near his eleventh birthday, he isn’t allowed to read them. However, the Dursleys aren’t dealing with an ordinary postman, and at midnight on Harry’s birthday the gigantic Rubeus Hagrid breaks down the door to make sure Harry gets to read his post at last. Ignoring the horrified Dursleys, Hagrid informs Harry that he is a wizard, and the letter the gives Harry explains that he is expected at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in a month’s time.

To the Dursleys’ fury, Hagrid also reveals the truth about Harry’s past. Harry did not receive the scar on his forehead in a car-crash; it is really the mark of the great dark sorcerer Voldemort, who killed Harry’s mother and father but mysteriously couldn’t kill him, even though he was a baby at the time. Harry is famous among the witches and wizards who live in secret all over the country because Harry’s miraculous survival marked Voldemort’s downfall.

So Harry, who has never had friends or family worth the name, sets off for a new life in the wizarding world. He takes a trip to London with Hagrid to buy his Hogwarts equipment (robes, wand, cauldron, beginners’ draft and potion kit) and shortly afterwards, sets off for Hogwarts from Kings Cross Statino (platform nine and three quarters) to follow in his parents’ footsteps.

Harry makes friends with Ronald Weasley (sixth in his family to go to Hogwarts and tired of having to use second-hand spellbooks) and Hermione Granger (cleverest girl in the year and the only person in the class to know all the uses of dragon’s blood). Together, they have their first lessons in magic – astonomy up on the tallest tower at two in the morning, herbology out in the greenhouses where the mandrakes and wolfsbane are kept, potion down in the dungeons with the loathsome Severus Snape. Harry, Ron and Hermione discover the school’s secret passageways, learn how to deal with Peeves the poltergeist and how to tackle and angry mountain troll: best of all, Harry becomes a star player at Quidditch (wizard football played on broomsticks).

What interests Harry and his friends most, though, is why the corridor on the third floor is so heavily guarded. Following up a clue dropped by Hagrid (who, when is not delivering letters, is Hogwarts’ gamekeeper), they discover that the only Philosopher’s Stone in existance is being kept at Hogwarts, a stone with powers to give limitless wealth and eternal life. Harry, Ron and Hermione seem to be the only people who have realised that Snape the potions master is planning to steal the stone – and what terrible things it could do in the wrong hands. For the Philosopher’s Stone is all that is needed to bring Voldemort back to full strength and power… it seems Harry has come to Hogwarts to meet his parents’ killer face to face – with no idea how he survived last time…

The following images are related to this writing

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Fan Sites (Desktop Website)

Index ID: FSDW — Publication date: May 15th, 2004 to May 11th, 2007


I love this site, which I discovered towards the end of writing Order of the Phoenix, and which made me feel exceptionally guilty, as you can imagine. I am so proud of the fact that a character, whom I always liked very much, though he never appeared as much more than a brooding presence in the books, has gained a passionate fan-club.

At the launch of Goblet of Fire at King’s Cross, London, I shook hands with a woman who leaned forward and whispered conspiratorially, ‘Sirius Black is sexy, right?’ And yes, of course she was right, as the Immeritus club know. The best-looking, most rebellious, most dangerous of the four marauders… and to answer one burning question on the discussion boards, his eyes are grey.

The fan art on here is very good. For a while I had a picture of the four marauders drawn by Laura Freeman on my desktop. It is a particularly accurate portrayal of Sirius and Lupin.

Godric’s Hollow

A great site run by real enthusiasts. The people who designed this site have really Thought It Through – my kind of people. I am however shocked at the number of moderators who want to be sorted into Slytherin… and you should know that the Hufflepuffs’ common room isn’t a dungeon, it’s more a cellar – a subtle but important difference.

The Harry Potter Lexicon

This is such a great site that I have been known to sneak into an internet café while out writing and check a fact rather than go into a bookshop and buy a copy of Harry Potter (which is embarrassing). A website for the dangerously obsessive; my natural home.


It’s high time I paid homage to the mighty MuggleNet. Where to start? I love the design, (I currently favour the ‘Dementor’ layout), the polls (I actually voted in the ‘Who’s the Half-Blood Prince?’ one), the pretty-much-exhaustive information on all books and films, the wonderful editorials (more insight there than in several companion volumes I shall not name), 101 Ways to Annoy Lord Voldemort (made me laugh aloud), the Wall of Shame (nearly as funny as some of the stuff I get)… pretty much everything. Webmaster Emerson, Eric, Jamie, Damon, Ben, Matthew, Rachel, Jaymz and Sharon, I salute you.


The Harry Potter Automatic News Aggregator was the very first Harry Potter website I ever visited, though it has changed almost beyond recognition since those early days. A fantastically user-friendly fansite, faster off the mark with Harry Potter news than any other site I know, and with all kinds of brilliantly inventive touches. I particularly like the points system, whereby dedicated posters can work their way up from ‘Muggle’ to ‘Auror’ and beyond – though speaking of titles, I hoped that ‘High Inquisitor’ (moderator name) would have died out when Umbridge was run (galloped?) out of Hogwarts. On the other hand, ‘Guillaume’ and ‘Broggy’ (surnames of two of the masterminds behind HPANA) are just begging to be used for fictional wizards.

The Leaky Cauldron

It is about the worst kept secret on this website that I am a huge fan of The Leaky Cauldron, which I have mentioned before now in News items. I have met one of its founders, Melissa, on two occasions; outside the Albert Hall before I did the reading for ‘Order of the Phoenix’ and after the premiere for ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’, and in a matter of mere months I will be talking to her properly as she will be coming over to Edinburgh to interview me on publication weekend.

‘Leaky’, as it is affectionately known to its many fans, is a wonderfully well designed mine of accurate information on all things Harry Potter. It also attracts a lot of knowledgeable and entertaining debate. So to Melissa, B.K., Kristen, Sue, John, Nick and Natalie, congratulations and thank you! And Heidi… thank you very much for the present for Mackenzie… she wears it often!

I’ve had a few fan letters from South America mentioning this fansite, so I thought I’d pay it a visit. Now I’ve done so, I understand why this site draws loyal fans. I love the distinctive, woodcut-style graphics and I was particularly touched by the fact that Harry was almost level with Ron and Hermione a close second in the ‘favourite character poll’. At least they appreciate my hero over at Potterish. I was also grateful to note that they told their visitors to take the ‘news’ that I’ve written 750 pages of book seven with a pinch of salt. Thanks, Potterish: have a Fansite Award in appreciation of your style, your Potter-expertise and your responsible reporting.

Harry Potter Fan

How could I not love a fansite whose contributors include people named Thaddeus and Aunna? This is a great Australian site with an impressively young staff who have produced some really insightful editorials; I wish I could highlight a couple of them, but that would be waaaay too revealing. If you head over to FAQs, however, you will see some of the open letter questions answered (at long last, yes, I know… but I had to finish “Deathly Hallows” first)

So congratulations and thanks, Andy, to you and all your talented colleagues.

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Wizard of the Month (Desktop Website)

Index ID: WMDW — Publication date: May 5th, 2004 to October 1st, 2007

Felix Summerbee

(1447 – 1508) Inventor of Cheering Charms

Gwenog Jones

(1968 – present) Captain and Beater of only all-female national Quidditch Team, the Holyhead Harpies

Donaghan Tremlett

(1972 – present) Bass player with the popular wizarding band The Weird Sisters

Honoria Nutcombe

(1665 – 1743) Founded the Society for the Reformation of Hags.

Uric the Oddball

(Medieval, dates unknown) Highly eccentric wizard who is famed, among other things, for wearing a jellyfish for a hat.

Glenda Chittock

(1964 – present) Popular presenter of the W.W.N. (Wizarding Wireless Network) programme ‘Witching Hour’

Devlin Whitehorn

(1945 – present) Founder of the Nimbus racing broom company.

Ignatia Wildsmith

(1227 – 1320) The witch who invented Floo powder.

Derwent Shimpling

(1912 – present) Ate an entire Venomous Tentacula for a bet and survived, though is still purple.

Artemisia Lufkin

(1754 – 1825) First witch to become Minister for Magic.

Mungo Bonham

(1560 – 1659) Famous wizard healer. Founded St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries.

Gondoline Oliphant

(1720 – 1799) Famous for studies of life and habits of trolls. Clubbed to death in the Cotswolds while sketching.

Felix Summerbee

(1447 – 1508) Inventor of Cheering Charms

Elfrida Clagg

(1612 – 1687) Chieftainess of Warlock’s Council

Chauncey Oldridge

(1342 – 1379) First known victim of dragon pox

Bridget Wenlock

(1202 – 1285) Famous Arithmancer. First to establish the magical properties of the number seven

Gaspard Shingleton

1959 – present. Celebrated inventor of the Self-Stirring Cauldron.

Fifi LaFolle

(1888 – 1971) Author of the ‘Enchanted Encounters’ series

Carlotta Pinkstone

1922 – present. Famous campaigner for lifting the International Confederation of Wizard’s Statute of Secrecy and telling Muggles that wizards still exist. Ms. Pinkstone has been imprisoned several times for her blatant and deliberate use of magic in public places.

Bowman Wright

1492 – 1560 Famous for developing the Golden Snitch.

Jocunda Sykes

1915 – present. Famous for flying across the Atlantic on a broomstick – the first person to do so.

Yardley Platt

1446 – 1557. Serial goblin-killer.

Daisy Dodderidge

1467 – 1555. First landlady of the Leaky Cauldron.

Grogan Stump

1770 – 1884 Popular Minister for Magic, appointed 1811.

Fabius Watkins

1940 – 1975 Legendary Captain and Chaser of Montrose Magpies. Died in freak collision with helicopter.

Daisy Hookum

1962 – present Wrote bestseller ‘My Life as a Muggle’, after giving up magic for a year. Married to celebrity gardener Tilden Toots.

Tarquin McTavish

1955 – present Imprisoned for crimes against Muggle neighbour, who was discovered trapped inside McTavish’s kettle.

Erica Stainwright

1932 – 2001 Disgraced 1950s housekeeping guru who made fortune selling ‘cleaning’ potions that really generated more mould and grime.

Hambledon Quince

1936 – present Author of controversial theory that wizards originate from Mars, Muggles from mushrooms.

Idris Oakby

1872 – 1985 Founder of the S.S.S. (Society for the Support of Squibs)

Lorcan d’Eath

1964 – present Heartthrob singer, part vampire, nineteen weeks at number 1 with hit song ‘Necks to You.’

Laurentia Fletwock

1947 – present Celebrated breeder and racer of winged horses. Has campaigned for tighter restrictions on broomstick use.

Harvey Ridgebit

1881 – 1973 Dragonologist, caught first Peruvian Vipertooth, established world’s largest dragon sanctuary in Romania.

Mnemone Radford

1562 – 1649 Developed Memory Modifying Charms. First Ministry of Magic Obliviator.

Tilden Toots

1959 – present ‘The wizard with three green thumbs’ Celebrity herbologist and radio personality

Magenta Comstock

1895 – 1991 Experimental artist whose portraits’ eyes not only follow the viewer around the room, but also follow them home.

Helga Hufflepuff

(Medieval, precise dates unknown) One of the four celebrated Founders of Hogwarts, Hufflepuff was particularly famous for her dexterity at food-related Charms. Many recipes traditionally served at Hogwarts feasts originated with Hufflepuff.

Salazar Slytherin

Medieval (precise dates unknown) One of the four celebrated Founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Salazar Slytherin was one of the first recorded Parselmouths, an accomplished Legilimens, and a notorious champion of pureblood supremacy.

Godric Gryffindor

Medieval (precise dates unknown) One of the four famous Founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Godric Gryffindor was the most accomplished dueller of his time, an enlightened fighter against Muggle-discrimination and the first owner of the celebrated Sorting Hat.

Rowena Ravenclaw

Medieval (precise dates unknown). One of the four famous Founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Rowena Ravenclaw was the most brilliant witch of her time, though legend has it that a broken heart – cause unknown – contributed to her early demise.

Albus Dumbledore

1881 – 1996 Brilliant and often controversial headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Albus Dumbledore is most famous for his 1945 defeat of Grindelwald and his steadfast championing of Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived. Dumbledore’s self-proclaimed proudest achievement, however, was featuring on a Famous Wizards Chocolate Frog Card.

Harry Potter

(1980 – ) The Boy Who Lived, only known survivor of the Avada Kedavra curse and conqueror of Lord Voldemort, also known as Tom Riddle. Harry Potter joined the reshuffled Auror Department under Kingsley Shacklebolt at age 17, rising to become Head of said department in 2007.

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Extra Stuff: Characters (Desktop Website)

Index ID: EXT2DW — Publication date: May 15th, 2004

Some Random Facts About The Weasley Family

Ron was the only one of three major characters whose surname never changed; he has been ‘Weasley’ from start to finish. In Britain and Ireland the weasel has a bad reputation as an unfortunate, even malevolent, animal. However, since childhood I have had a great fondness for the family mustelidae; not so much malignant as maligned, in my opinion.

There are also many superstitions associated with redheaded people and most state that they are in some way unlucky (Judas Escariot was supposedly red-haired), but this is nonsense; I happen to like red hair as well as weasels.

Although I never meant him to be like Sean, once I got Ron onto the page he often behaved like my oldest friend, who is both very funny and deeply loyal. However, there are also substantial differences between Ron and Sean. I have only once set out to faithfully depict a real human being (see Gilderoy Lockhart); everywhere else, though I might have borrowed the occasional real person’s characteristic, they are at least 90% imaginary.

Before her marriage Mrs. Weasley was Molly Prewett. As you will note from chapter one, Philosopher’s Stone, she has lost close family members to Voldemort.

Arthur Weasley was one of three brothers. Ginny (full name Ginevra, not Virginia), is the first girl to be born into the Weasley clan for several generations.

Fred and George were born – when else? – on April Fool’s Day.

Nearly Headless Nick

In the first draft of ‘Chamber of Secrets’, Nick sang a self-penned ballad explaining how his head had (nearly) come off. My editor was not very fond of the song and so I cut it. However, for those who are curious, here is the story of Nick’s decapitation in his own moving words.

It was a mistake any wizard could make

Who was tired and caught on the hop

One piffling error, and then, to my terror,

I found myself facing the chop.

Alas for the eve when I met Lady Grieve

A-strolling the park in the dusk!

She was of the belief I could straighten her teeth

Next moment she’d sprouted a tusk.

I cried through the night that I’d soon put her right

But the process of justice was lax;

They’d brought out the block, though they’d mislaid the rock

Where they usually sharpened the axe.

Next morning at dawn, with a face most forlorn,

The priest said to try not to cry,

“You can come just like that, no, you won’t need a hat,”

And I knew that my end must be nigh.

The man in the mask who would have the sad task

Of cleaving my head from my neck,

Said “Nick, if you please, will you get to your knees,”

And I turned to a gibbering wreck.

“This may sting a bit” said the cack-handed twit

As he swung the axe up in the air,

But oh the blunt blade! No difference it made,

My head was still definitely there.

The axeman he hacked and he whacked and he thwacked,

“Won’t be too long”, he assured me,

But quick it was not, and the bone-headed clot

Took forty-five goes ’til he floored me.

And so I was dead, but my faithful old head

It never saw fit to desert me,

It still lingers on, that’s the end of my song,

And now, please applaud, or you’ll hurt me.

Hermione Granger

In the old days the question I was asked most often was, ‘how do you pronounce the girl’s name?’ As I expect you have noticed, I cunningly inserted the answer to this question in ‘Goblet of Fire’, when I had Hermione instruct Viktor Krum how to say it properly: Her – my – o – nee. I used to hear ‘Her – moyne’ a lot, but my favourite mis-pronunciation ever was ‘Hermy – one.’ I think I like it better than the proper way.

In the dim and distant past Hermione’s surname was ‘Puckle’, but it didn’t suit her at all and was quickly changed for something a little bit less frivolous.

Hermione’s birthday is September the 19th.

When we were editing ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ my editor wanted me to cut the scene in which Harry, Ron and Hermione fight the troll. Although I had accepted most of the smaller cuts he wanted me to make I argued hard for this one. Hermione, bless her, is so very annoying in the early part of ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ that I really felt it needed something (literally) huge to bring her together with Harry and Ron.

I have often said that Hermione is a bit like me when I was younger. I think I was seen by other people as a right little know-it-all, but I hope that it is clear that underneath Hermione’s swottiness there is a lot of insecurity and a great fear of failure (as shown by her Boggart in ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’).

Harry and Dudley: Future Hope?

A couple of people have told me that they hoped to see Dudley at King’s Cross in the Epilogue, accompanying a wizarding child. I must admit that it did occur to me to do that very thing, but a short period of reflection convinced me that any latent wizarding genes would never survive contact with Uncle Vernon’s DNA, so I didn’t do it.

However, I know that after Dudley’s brave attempt at reconciliation at the start of Deathly Hallows, the two cousins would have remained on ‘Christmas Card’ terms for the rest of their lives, and that Harry would have taken his family to visit Dudley’s when they were in the neighbourhood (occasions dreaded by James, Albus and Lily).

Gilderoy Lockhart

I have only once set out to depict somebody I have met and, unlikely though it might seem, the result was Gilderoy Lockhart. I assure you that the person on whom Gilderoy was modelled was even more objectionable than his fictional counterpart. He used to tell whopping great fibs about his past life, all of them designed to demonstrate what a wonderful, brave and brilliant person he was. Perhaps he didn’t really believe he was all that great and wanted to compensate, but I’m afraid I never dug that deep.

You might think it was mean of me to depict him as Gilderoy, but you can rest assured he will never, ever guess. He’s probably out there now telling everybody that he inspired the character of Albus Dumbledore. Or that he wrote the books and lets me take the credit out of kindness.


I am not overly fond of cats. Like Hagrid, I am allergic to them and much prefer dogs. However, there was an exception. When I was working in London in the late 1980s I used to eat my lunch in a nearby square on sunny days and a large, fluffy ginger cat that looked as though it had run face-first into a wall used to prowl around the sunbathers there; I assume it lived in a nearby house. I didn’t ever get close enough to give myself an asthma attack, but I became distantly fond of this cat, which prowled among the humans around it looking disdainful and refusing to be stroked. When I decided to give Hermione an unusually intelligent cat I gave him the appearance of this haughty animal, with the slightly unfair addition of bandy legs.

Crookshanks, as anybody who has read Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will have guessed, is half Kneazle. And if you don’t know what a Kneazle is, you need to hurry up and buy Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (all royalties go to help some of the poorest children in the world).

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Extra Stuff: Edits (Desktop Website)

Index ID: EXT1DW — Publication date: May 15th, 2004

The Opening Chapter of Book Six

I have come close to using a chapter very like this in ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ (it was one of the discarded first chapters), ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’ and ‘Order of the Phoenix’ but here, finally, it works, so it’s staying. And that’s all I’m going to say, but when you read it, just know that it’s been about thirteen years in the brewing.

Opening Chapters of Philosopher’s Stone

There were many different versions of the first chapter of ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ and the one I finally settled on is not the most popular thing I’ve ever written; lots of people have told me that they found it hard work compared with the rest of the book. The trouble with that chapter was (as so often in a Harry Potter book) I had to give a lot of information yet conceal even more. There were various versions of scenes in which you actually saw Voldemort entering Godric’s Hollow and killing the Potters and in early drafts of these, a Muggle betrayed their whereabouts. As the story evolved, however, and Pettigrew became the traitor, this horrible Muggle vanished.

Other drafts included a character by the name of ‘Pyrites’, whose name means ‘fool’s gold’. He was a servant of Voldemort’s and was meeting Sirius in front of the Potters’ house. Pyrites, too, had to be discarded, though I quite liked him as a character; he was a dandy and wore white silk gloves, which I thought I might stain artistically with blood from time to time.

The very, very earliest drafts of the first chapter of ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ have the Potters living on a remote island, Hermione’s family living on the mainland, her father spotting something that resembles an explosion out at sea and sailing out in a storm to find their bodies in the ruins of their house. I can’t remember now why I thought this was a good idea, but I clearly recognised that it wasn’t fairly early on, because the Potters were re-located to Godric’s Hollow for all subsequent drafts.

Mopsy the dog-lover (Goblet of Fire)

When Padfoot returns in ‘Goblet of Fire’, I initially had him stay with a highly- eccentric, dog-loving old witch on the edge of Hogsmeade. She kept a pack of ill-assorted dogs, was on constant bad terms with her neighbours because of the barking and the mess, and had welcomed in Sirius, assuming him to be a stray.

I think my editor was quite right to ask me to get rid of Mopsy, because she added nothing to the plot. I just liked portraying a batty dog-lover (as opposed to batty cat-lover Mrs. Figg). However, it made more sense to stow Sirius in a nice simple cave to have Harry, Ron, Hermione and Sirius’s chat about Barty Crouch Jnr. without distractions.

Malfoy & Nott (Chamber of Secrets/Goblet of Fire)

I liked this scene so much I tried to use it twice; unfortunately, it didn’t work in either place so I finally laid it to rest in one of the cardboard boxes where I keep all my old drafts, notes, electricity bills and chewing gum wrappers.

As in the case of Dean Thomas, I know much more about Theodore Nott than has ever appeared in the books. Raised by a very elderly widower and Death Eater father, Theodore is a clever loner who does not feel the need to join gangs, including Malfoy’s.

However, in this scene Theodore’s father (the same Nott who was badly injured in the closing chapters of ‘Order of the Phoenix’) goes to visit Lucius Malfoy to discuss Voldemort-related business and we see Draco and Theodore alone in the garden having a talk of their own. I really liked the scene, firstly because it showed the Malfoys’ home, and the difference between the place where Draco has grown up and number four, Privet Drive; then because we rarely see Draco talking to anybody he considers a real equal, and he is forced to see Theodore as such, because Theodore is just as pure-blooded as he is, and somewhat cleverer. Together these two Death Eaters’ sons discuss Dumbledore’s regime at Hogwarts and Harry Potter, with all sorts of stories that the Death Eaters tell about how this baby boy survived the Dark Lord’s attack.

Mafalda (Goblet of Fire)

I have spoken before now about the Weasley cousin who made it quite a long way into ‘Goblet of Fire’ before I cut her. I really liked her as a character and did not want to sacrifice her, but she just wasn’t doing the job she was supposed to do so she had to go.

Mafalda was the daughter of the ‘second cousin who’s a stockbroker’ mentioned in ‘Philosopher’s Stone’. This stockbroker had been very rude to Mr. and Mrs. Weasley in the past, but now he and his (Muggle) wife had inconveniently produced a witch, they came back to the Weasleys asking for their help in introducing her to wizarding society before she starts at Hogwarts. The Weasleys agreed to taking her for part of the Summer, including the Quidditch World Cup, but regretted this almost immediately. Mrs. Weasley suspected that Mafalda’s parents simply wanted to get rid of her for a while, because she turns out to be the most unpleasant child Mrs. Weasley has ever met.

Mafalda was supposed to convey certain information about the Death Eaters to Harry, Ron and Hermione, because as a nosy, eavesdropping Slytherin who likes to impress, she does not keep her mouth shut when she overhears their sons and daughters talking. Unfortunately, however bright I made her, there were obvious limitations to what an eleven year old closeted at school could discover, whereas Rita Skeeter, whom I subsequently built up to fulfil Mafalda’s function, was much more flexible.

The best thing about Mafalda was that she was a match for Hermione. To the latter’s horror, Mafalda was highly gifted and a real show-off, so that Hermione was torn between deploring the rule-breaking and longing to join in and beat her.

Dean Thomas’s background (Chamber of Secrets)

Anybody who has read both the American and British versions of ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ will notice that Dean Thomas’s appearance is not mentioned in the British book, whereas in the American one there is a line describing him (in the chapter ‘The Sorting Hat’).

This was an editorial cut in the British version; my editor thought that chapter was too long and pruned everything that he thought was surplus to requirements. When it came to the casting on the film version of ‘Philosopher’s Stone’, however, I told the director, Chris, that Dean was a black Londoner. In fact, I think Chris was slightly taken aback by the amount of information I had on this peripheral character. I had a lot of background on Dean, though I had never found the right place to use it. His story was included in an early draft of ‘Chamber of Secrets’ but then cut by me, because it felt like an unnecessary digression. Now I don’t think his history will ever make it into the books.

Dean is from what he always thought was a pure Muggle background. He has been raised by his mother and his stepfather; his father walked out on the family when Dean was very young. He has a very happy home life, with a number of half-brothers and sisters.

Naturally when the letter came from Hogwarts Dean’s mother wondered whether his father might have been a wizard, but nobody has ever discovered the truth: that Dean’s father, who had never told his wife what he was because he wanted to protect her, got himself killed by Death Eaters when he refused to join them. The projected story had Dean discovering all this during his school career. I suppose in some ways I sacrificed Dean’s voyage of discovery for Neville’s, which is more important to the central plot.

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F.A.Q.: Other Stuff (Desktop Website)

Index ID: FAQ3WEB — Publication date: May 15th, 2004 to October 4th, 2004

Will you sign my book?

Every one of my sixty-something publishers, my agent, my friends, my relatives and my neighbours are constantly approached by people who want me to sign their books. The sad truth is I couldn’t sign all of these books even if I gave up writing, eating or sleeping. These days the only books I sign are for charities or in very special circumstances. I am truly sorry about this, but I think you would all rather I wrote books six and seven than spent my life signing books one to five. So please, please, please do not send me your books for signature. I no longer get to see the books that are being sent, which are returned to the sender.

Where can I write to you?

My publishers will forward letters.

Can I be in the film?

I have No Control Over Casting, I’m afraid. Your best bet is to write to Warner Bros.

Will you use some of my ideas in the next Harry Potter book?

The books have been planned for so long that there isn’t room for any more ideas! Fan fiction is really fun, though, and I am so proud to think that Harry Potter inspired so much creativity!

What is your advice to children who are being bullied?

TELL SOMEONE, whether it is your Mum, Dad, Aunt, Uncle, a teacher, a brother, a sister, an adult friend – just tell someone. If the first person you tell doesn’t seem to understand how bad the problem is, tell somebody else. I know that it is very hard to admit that you are being bullied, but it is absolutely crucial if you are to end the misery. Life in school can be very tough and any adult who has forgotten that is an idiot, so don’t be ashamed… just tell.

Can I meet the cast of the Harry Potter films/visit the set?

I don’t know, you’ll have to contact Warner Brothers! (Their site is accessible through my ‘Links’ section). I have no power over things like this, I’m afraid.

How can we avoid the middlemen when trying to publish a book?

I’m really not sure what you mean by ‘middlemen’. Most authors have agents whose job it is to negotiate contracts for them (authors not necessarily being very good businesspeople) and while you do not have to have an agent, I would advise any novice to get one if they can. Other than your agent, you deal with an editor and perhaps the people marketing your book. None of these people can be described as ‘middlemen’, they are simply part of the process of being published. Of course, if you would rather nobody else is involved, you can self-publish, but that has always sounded like an awful lot of hard work to me.

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F.A.Q.: About Me (Desktop Website)

Index ID: FAQ2WEB — Publication date: May 15th, 2004

What has been your most embarrassing moment?

I cannot possibly reveal the full horror of my most embarrassing moment, but it took place in a pub in Exeter (which is a town in the south coast of England, where I went to university) in 1984 and involved a joke made by me that backfired spectacularly. The whole debacle was witnessed by my friend Pauline, who is mentioned elsewhere on this fansite (I have to keep her happy in case she TELLS).

Can I do work experience with you?

I am really touched that anyone would like to do this, but the truth is that there’s nothing much to do! I just sit in a room or a cafe and write and I’m more than capable of doing that without assistance!

How widely have you travelled?

I’ve travelled quite a bit within Europe and I’ve been to the States several times, mostly on book tours though, which means I see a lot of hotel rooms, book stores and television studios with brief glimpses of famous landmarks in between. The exception is New York, which I’ve visited as a normal human, and which I love. I went on safari in Africa for the first time last year, which was a challenge as David was only five months old at the time, but which was really wonderful.

Will you put Americans/characters of other nationalities into the books?

I’m afraid the answer to this is ‘no’, although you have glimpsed Americans and other nationalities at the Quidditch World Cup. The reason is obvious: I am writing about Britain and a British school and there is no logical reason to insert foreigners for the sake of it, because I’m sure they would feel gratuitous. I often get suggestions about what I ought to insert into Harry Potter books, but these are my stories and mine alone; if anyone wants to write about American wizards they are of course free to write their own book!

Are there to be book signings anywhere in the future?

Watch this space!

What is your advice on how to get published?

Firstly, you need to write something that a publisher would want to publish (it only takes one, but it might take a while to find them. If you are turned down by every single publisher in existence, you will have to consider the possibility that what you have written is not publishable). Next, you need to approach the publisher, either directly, or (which is advisable if you can manage it) by securing an agent who will act on your behalf. The best way to find agents’ and publishers’ addresses is to consult ‘The Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook’, which is updated every year. (Double-check that you are writing to the right person/people; don’t, for example, send science fiction to a publisher of medical textbooks.) Wait. Pray. This is the way Harry Potter got published.

Can I be your penpal?

I have picked up a few penpals over the last few years (though I’m sometimes a bit unreliable when I’m working hard on a book!) but to be very honest, I don’t think I have room for any more. Jessica and David have to come first: the rest of you have millions of penpals to choose from, but they can’t choose an alternative mother, so they really do need my time most!

Have you ever written anything other than Harry Potter?

Yes, quite a lot, though none of it is published (which is no loss, I assure you). The first things I wrote were the Rabbit stories, which were about a rabbit called Rabbit. I wrote them between the ages of six and eight. Then when I was eleven I wrote a novel about seven cursed diamonds and the people who owned them. Since then I’ve written loads: short stories, bits of novels for adults, all kinds of things.

When did you first want to be a writer?

Always… as soon as I knew what writers were, I wanted to be one. I’ve got the perfect temperament for a writer; perfectly happy alone in a room, making things up.

What other jobs have you done?

I was a ‘research assistant’ at Amnesty International for a while, which was very interesting but I don’t think I was much of an asset as I am terminally disorganised (see my desk top for a graphic demonstration). The longest jobs I have had other than writing have been teaching; I taught French in Scotland and English in Portugal.

Who is your favourite character?

I love: Harry, Hermione, Ron, Hagrid, Dumbledore, Ginny, Fred, George and Lupin. I love writing (though would not necessarily want to meet) Snape. My favourite new character is Luna Lovegood.

What Hogwarts house would you be in?

Gryffindor, I hope. I value courage beyond almost anything.

What do your children think of Harry Potter?

Jessica loves the books, which is very nice of her as she’s had to share me with Harry for so long. David has no idea who Harry Potter is, which makes him very restful company!

What is your favourite thing that you have bought with your earnings?

My favourite material thing is our house in the north of Scotland, where it is very peaceful and we have a lot of fun with family and friends. Probably the very best thing my earnings have given me, though, is absence of worry. I have not forgotten what it feels like to worry whether you’ll have enough money to pay the bills. Not to have to think about that any more is the biggest luxury in the world.

What would a Boggart turn into if you stood in front of one?

The same thing Molly Weasley saw when she let a Boggart out of the locked cabinet in ‘Order of the Phoenix’ – my loved ones, dead. If, however, you are talking about a fear that concerns only me, it would be being buried alive. I’m not sure how a Boggart would represent that; perhaps turn into a coffin around me? Urgh.

What are you going to write after Harry?

There are things languishing in various drawers that I might return to, but I might write something completely different. I really don’t know.

How do you remember everything from different books when you are still writing the HP series?

As obsessive fans will tell you, I do slip up! Several classrooms move floors mysteriously between books and these are the least serious continuity errors! Most of the fansites will point you in the direction of my mistakes. But the essentials remain consistent from book to book because the story has been plotted for a long time and it is clear in my mind.

How many hours a day do you spend writing?

Anything from ten minutes (which is all I can get at the moment with such a young baby!) to ten hours. I love writing through the night, but again, that’s not feasible just now – I need to sleep when I can!

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F.A.Q.: About the Books (Desktop Website)

Index ID: FAQ1WEB — Publication date: May 15th, 2004 to December 21st, 2007

Is every book going to be bigger than the previous one?

No, definitely not, or book seven would be around the weight of a baby hippopotamus. According to the plan for book six, it will be quite a bit shorter than ‘Order of the Phoenix’. I am not going to swear on my children’s lives that that is going to be the case, but I am 99% certain of it.

What is the seventh book going to be called?

Never give up, you lot, do you? I suppose you think that one of these days I’ll crack under the pressure and let slip that book seven is going to be called – wow, I nearly gave it away then.

Could there be some Harry Potter magazines produced?

Sorry, but that’s not going to happen. I really think books and films are enough to be going on with!

Could there please be a book of Hogwart spells?

Hmmm… well, I’ve got no plans to write one, I’m afraid. There really aren’t special ‘Hogwarts’ spells, in any case, just general wizarding spells such as any accomplished witch or wizard could perform if they’d consulted the right textbook.

Does Hermione love Ron or Harry?

I can’t believe that some of you haven’t worked this one out yet, but I’m not going to answer because that would spoil the arguments, which I enjoy.

Can prefects take points or not? A prefect took points from Gryffindor in the Chamber of Secrets, and then there was a reference to prefects not being allowed to dock points. What are the rules?

Ron got it wrong in ‘Phoenix’, from which we deduce that he hasn’t been a very authoritarian prefect thus far; he clearly hasn’t been taking points from anybody.

Where do you get your ideas?

This is the question every author is asked most. The answer is ‘out of my head’, but people don’t seem very satisfied with that, it’s too boring, even though it’s true. I suppose an idea might be triggered by something you see or hear, though I can’t remember an instance of that happening to me. For me, the most idea-producing-situation is to be sitting in a fairly quiet corner of a café, looking down at a nice blank sheet of paper, with a big mug of tea slightly to the left and a new pen clutched in my right hand.

Where do you get your names?

I’ve always ‘collected’ – that’s to say, remembered – unusual names and finally found a use for them! I love names; sad to say, I really enjoy reading lists of them, for me it’s like casting an eye over a pile of unwrapped presents, each of the names representing a whole person. War memorials, telephone directories, shop fronts, saints, villains, baby-naming books – you name it, I’ve got names from it! I also make up names, the most popular one being ‘quidditch’, of course.

Who is the head of Ravenclaw House?

Professor Flitwick of course.

Why did Marcus Flint do an extra year at Hogwarts?

Either I made a mistake or he failed his exams and repeated a year. I think I prefer Marcus making the mistake.

In ‘Chamber of Secrets’, what would have happened if Ginny had died and Tom Riddle had escaped the diary?

I can’t answer that fully until all seven books are finished, but it would have strengthened the present-day Voldemort considerably.

In ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’, why couldn’t the Ministry of Magic have sent Sirius an owl, and then followed it, to find him?

Just as wizards can make buildings unplottable, they can also make themselves untraceable. Voldemort would have been found long ago if it had been as simple as sending him an owl!

At the end of ‘Goblet of Fire’, in which order should Harry’s parents have come out of the wand?

Lily first, then James. That’s how it appears in my original manuscript but we were under enormous pressure to edit it very fast and my American editor thought that was the wrong way around, and he is so good at catching small errors I changed it without thinking, then realised it had been right in the first place. We were all very sleep-deprived at the time.

How did Harry get the Marauder’s Map back at the end of ‘Goblet of Fire’?

He simply took it back from the fake Moody’s office, but I never show him doing so. Maybe I’ll insert a line in the next edition. I’m afraid I took it for granted that you’d all assume that next time he passed the untenanted office he’d go and get it!

Why could Harry see the Thestrals ‘Order of the Phoenix’? Shouldn’t he have been able to see them much earlier, because he saw his parents/Quirrell/Cedric die?

I’ve been asked this a lot. Harry didn’t see his parents die. He was in his cot at the time (he was just over a year old) and, as I say in ‘Philosopher’s Stone’, all he saw was a flash of green light. He didn’t see Quirrell’s death, either. Harry had passed out before Quirrell died and was only told about it by Dumbledore in the last chapter.

He did, however, witness the murder of Cedric, and it is this that makes him able to see the Thestrals at last. Why couldn’t he see the Thestrals on his trip back to the train station? Well, I didn’t want to start a new mystery, which would not be resolved for a long time, at the very end of the fourth book. I decided, therefore, that until Harry is over the first shock, and really feels what death means (ie, when he fully appreciates that Cedric is gone forever and that he can never come back, which takes time, whatever age you are) he would not be able to see the Thestrals. After two months away from school during which he has dwelled endlessly on his memories of the murder and had nightmares about it, the Thestrals have taken shape and form and he can see them quite clearly.

Why did Harry have to forget the mirror he had been given by Sirius in ‘Order of the Phoenix’?

I can’t give a full answer to this, because it is relevant to books six and seven. However, the short answer is that Harry was determined never to use the mirror, as is clearly stated in chapter 24: ‘he knew he would never use whatever it was’. For once in Harry’s life, he does not succumb to curiosity, he hides the mirror and the temptation away from himself, and then, when it might have been useful, he has forgotten it.

The mirror might not have helped as much as you think, but on the other hand, will help more than you think. You’ll have to read the final books to understand that!

The prophecy Harry hears in Dumbledore’s office suggests to me that both he and Voldemort will have to die, is that true?

Both Madam Trelawney and I worded the prophecy extremely carefully and that is all I have to say on the subject!

Will you write more Harry Potter books after the seventh?

If you mean more novels, then I think it highly unlikely. I’ve got enough story for seven books and I never planned to carry the story beyond the end of book seven. I might do an eighth book for charity, a kind of encyclopaedia of the world so that I could use all the extra material that’s not in the books… we’ll see!

How do you pronounce ‘Hermione?’

Her (as in ‘her brain is bigger than everyone else’s’) + my (as in ‘my brain isn’t as big as that’) + oh (as in ‘oh, for a brain that size’) + knee (as in ‘I’ve bruised my knee’).

This used to be the most frequently asked question of all, but it has become less so since I cunningly had Hermione tell Krum how to pronounce her name in ‘Goblet of Fire’.

What is the significance, if any, of Mark Evans?

I couldn’t answer the poll question before now, because I’ve been making arrangements to take my family into hiding. It takes time to arrange fake passports, one-way air tickets to Bolivia and twenty-four hour armed security.

Why should I resort to such desperate measures? Because after you’ve heard this answer, I’ll have to disappear for my own safety.

Now before I get down to it (you can guess what’s coming, can’t you?) I am going to put up a feeble pre-emptive defence. Firstly, you were all spinning highly ingenious theories about Mark Evans, so I thought that you would welcome the chance to hear the truth about him. Secondly, I tried hard not to raise hopes or expectations by adding the crucial words ‘if any’ to the question. Thirdly… there is no thirdly. I’m just killing time.

(Takes deep breath)

Mark Evans is… nobody. He’s nobody in the sense that Mr. Prentice, Madam Marsh and Gordon-Dudley’s-gang-member are nobodies, just background people who need names, but who have no role other than the walk-on parts assigned to them.
(Checks that Neil has immunized the dog and that Jessica has packed her Gameboy, and continues)

I’ve got nobody to blame but myself. Sirius Black, Mrs. Figg and Mundungus Fletcher were all mentioned in passing well before they burst onto the stage as fully-fledged characters, so now you’ve all become too clever, not for your own good, but for mine. The fact is that once you drew my attention to it, I realised that Mark Evans did indeed look like one of those ‘here he is, just a casual passer-by, nothing to worry about, bet you barely noticed him’ characters who would suddenly become, half way through book seven, ‘Ha ha! Yes, Mark Evans is back, suckers, and he’s the key to everything! He’s the Half Blood Prince, he’s Harry’s Great-Aunt, he’s the Heir of Gryffindor, he lives up the Pillar of Storgé and he owns the Mystic Kettle of Nackledirk!’ (Possible title of book seven there, must make a note of it).

Then why – WHY – (I hear you cry) – did I give him the surname “Evans”? Well, believe me, you can’t regret it more than I do right now. “Evans” is a common name; I didn’t give it much thought; I wasn’t even trying to set up another red herring. I could just as easily have called him ‘Smith’ or ‘Jones’ (or ‘Black’ or ‘Thomas’ or ‘Brown’, all of which would have got me into trouble too).

What else can I say? Many of the theories you presented were highly plausible. If you knew how often I’ve checked the FAQ poll hoping that one of the other questions might edge into the lead…

Well, that’s that. The car with false license plates is at the door and I’ve got to glue on my goatee. Goodbye.

What did Dumbledore’s Howler to Aunt Petunia mean? (‘Remember my last’?)

Well, it is a relief to move on after the Mark Evans fiasco. This time, two out of the three poll questions had interesting answers (or so I think) and thank goodness you chose one of them.

So: Dumbledore is referring to his last letter, which means, of course, the letter he left upon the Dursleys’ doorstep when Harry was one year old. But why then (you may well ask) did he not just say ‘remember my letter?’ Why did he say my last letter? Why, obviously because there were letters before that…

Now let the speculation begin, and mind you type clearly, I’ll be watching…

P.S. It has been suggested that I am wrong in saying that Dumbledore’s last letter was the one he left on the doorstep with baby Harry, and that he has sent a letter since then concerning Harry’s illegal flight to school. However, both Dumbledore and I differentiate between letters sent to the Dursleys as a couple, and messages directed to Petunia ALONE. And that’s my final word on the subject – though I doubt it will be yours 🙂

In what way is ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ related to ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’?

I have been engulfed by an avalanche of questions on the subject of ‘Prince’ having once been a title of ‘Chamber’. I am therefore attempting to answer most of them under this heading, which I think just about covers all the answerable variations (the unanswerable ones include questions such as ‘who’s the Half-Blood Prince?’ ‘what happens in the Half-Blood Prince?’ and ‘what does Half-Blood Prince mean?’)

The plot of ‘Prince’ bears no resemblance whatsoever to the plot of ‘Chamber’, nor is it an off-cut of ‘Chamber’. The story of ‘Prince’ takes off where ‘Phoenix’ ended and does not hark back to four years previously. True, mention is made to events that happened in ‘Chamber,’ but of course, mention is also made of events that happened in ‘Stone’, ‘Azkaban’, ‘Goblet’ and ‘Phoenix’.

‘The Half-Blood Prince’ might be described as a strand of the overall plot. That strand could be used in a whole variety of ways and back in 1997 I considered weaving it into the story of ‘Chamber’. It really didn’t fit there, though; it was not part of the story of the basilisk and Riddle’s diary, and before long I accepted that it would be better to do it justice in book six. I clung to the title for a while, even though all trace of the ‘Prince’ storyline had disappeared, because I liked it so much (yes, I really like this title!). I re-christened book two ‘Chamber of Secrets’ when I started the second draft.

The link I mentioned between books two and six does not, in fact, relate to the ‘Half-Blood Prince’ (because there is no trace left of the HBP storyline in ‘Chamber’.) Rather, it relates to a discovery Harry made in ‘Chamber’ that foreshadows something that he finds out in ‘Prince’.

Is Tom Riddle the Half-Blood Prince?

Well, as Tom Riddle is the same person as Voldemort, and Voldemort is NOT the Half-Blood Prince… do I really need to answer this?

Why are some people in the wizarding world (e.g., Harry) called ‘half-blood’ even though both their parents were magical?

The expressions ‘pure-blood’, ‘half-blood’ and ‘Muggle-born’ have been coined by people to whom these distinctions matter, and express their originators’ prejudices. As far as somebody like Lucius Malfoy is concerned, for instance, a Muggle-born is as ‘bad’ as a Muggle. Therefore Harry would be considered only ‘half’ wizard, because of his mother’s grandparents.

If you think this is far-fetched, look at some of the real charts the Nazis used to show what constituted ‘Aryan’ or ‘Jewish’ blood. I saw one in the Holocaust Museum in Washington when I had already devised the ‘pure-blood’, ‘half-blood’ and ‘Muggle-born’ definitions, and was chilled to see that the Nazis used precisely the same warped logic as the Death Eaters. A single Jewish grandparent ‘polluted’ the blood, according to their propaganda.

Will Arthur Weasley be the new Minister for Magic?

Alas, no.

Did James and Lupin switch bodies before James was killed?

An ingenious theory, but no; James would never have saved himself and left his wife and son to die.

Do you like Sirius Black?

I’ve had several letters asking this, which rather surprised me. The answer is, yes, I do like him, although I do not think he is wholly wonderful (ooooh, I hear them sharpening the knives over at Immeritus [see “Fansite” section]).

Sirius is very good at spouting bits of excellent personal philosophy, but he does not always live up to them. For instance, he says in “Goblet of Fire” that if you want to know what a man is really like, ‘look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.’ But Sirius loathes Kreacher, the house-elf he has inherited, and treats him with nothing but contempt. Similarly, Sirius claims that nobody is wholly good or wholly evil, and yet the way he acts towards Snape suggests that he cannot conceive of any latent good qualities there. Of course, these double standards exist in most of us; we might know how we ought to behave, but actually doing it is a different matter!

Sirius is brave, loyal, reckless, embittered and slightly unbalanced by his long stay in Azkaban. He has never really had the chance to grow up; he was around twenty-two when he was sent off to Azkaban, and has had very little normal adult life. Lupin, who is the same age, seems much older and more mature. Sirius’s great redeeming quality is how much affection he is capable of feeling. He loved James like a brother and he went on to transfer that attachment to Harry.

If a teacher is head of a house, can we assume that they were sorted into those houses when they were students at Hogwarts? Is that also true for the house ghosts? So was Snape a Slytherin?

A Mugglenet/Harry Potter Lexicon Open Letter Question (I can’t promise I’ll answer them all, but I’ll try and work through them). Yes, if the teacher is Head of House you can indeed assume that they were pupils within that house. So Snape was very definitely a Slytherin and yes, the same is true of the house ghosts.

You said recently that Charlie was two years older than Percy. If that’s so, he would have been the Seeker in Harry’s first year. Can you clarify his and Bill’s ages for us?

I knew I’d messed up that question the moment I had answered it, but web chats move fast and I wanted to keep going to get through as many questions as I could. Bill is two years older than Charlie, who is three years older than Percy, who is two years older than Fred and George, who are two years older than Ron, who is a year older than Ginny. Sorry. Maths is not my strong suit (though it’s better than my geography, as those who have found the most recent Easter Eggs might already know).

How did Colin’s camera work inside Hogwarts if it was a Muggle camera (“Chamber of Secrets”)?

Who says it worked? Colin never got to develop the film, so he never knew whether he had taken pictures correctly or not. All we know is that the insides of the camera were scorched when the Basilisk looked into the lens.

Why didn’t Fred and George notice Peter Pettigrew on the Marauder’s Map before (“Prisoner of Azkaban”)?

It would not have mattered if they had. Unless somebody was very familiar with the story of Sirius Black (and after all, Sirius was not Mr. and Mrs. Weasley’s best friend – indeed, they never knew him until after he escaped from Azkaban), Fred and George would be unlikely to know or remember that Peter Pettigrew was the person Sirius had (supposedly) murdered. Even if Fred and George HAD heard the story at some point, why would they assume that the ‘Peter Pettigrew’ they occasionally saw moving around the map was, in fact, the man murdered years before?

Fred and George used the map for their own mischief-making, so they concentrated, naturally enough, on those portions of the map where they were planning their next misdeeds. And finally, you must not forget that hundreds of little dots are moving around this map at any given time… Fred and George did not know everyone in school by name, so a single unfamiliar name was unlikely to stand out.

Why haven’t the audio/other translations generally come out at the same time as the English edition?

Because they have often needed to wait for the English edition to be edited, after which the translators get to work. If everybody had been prepared to wait at least an extra year (and more, for some languages) we could probably have had simultaneous publication… but I’m guessing that idea wouldn’t have been too popular! In the case of the audio-cassettes, you have to allow the poor readers to find the time to record the books, remembering that they often have other work to do (Stephen Fry, for instance, just happens to be an author/actor/director and television presenter as well as the British voice of Harry Potter).

Peeves chews gum, how can he when he is a ghost? (Nearly Headless Nick can’t eat).

Peeves isn’t a ghost; he was never a living person. He is an indestructible spirit of chaos, and solid enough to unscrew chandeliers, throw walking sticks and, yes, chew gum.

Are you going to kill any more characters?

Yes. Sorry.

Why did you make the Leprechaun gold disappear in “Goblet of Fire” and Harry not notice?

I smiled rather ruefully to myself when I did this. Harry doesn’t worry about money, because he’s got enough of it. Ron, on the other hand, is poor, and he cannot imagine how it must be not to notice a pocketful of gold disappearing. I think I was just remembering how it felt to be like Ron; certainly, for that moment, I felt more sympathy for Ron than Harry – my past self more than my present, if you like. If Harry had noticed the leprechaun gold disappear at the time of the world cup, there would have been less poignancy when we came to the Niffler scene, where I wanted to show, through Ron, how hard it is sometimes not to have any money when other people do.

Do you write every day?

No; I write most days when I am working hard on a book (like now), but every day would be hard on my children! I like to spend time with them, too.

Do you believe in fate?

No, I believe in hard work and luck, and that the first often leads to the second.

How did Fred and George get their names, is it from the twins in “Gone With the Wind”, they were both red headed boys?

Until I received this letter, I had no idea that the actors who played Stuart and Brent Tarleton were called Fred Crane and George Reeves. No, this isn’t where I got the names (I simply called Fred and George ‘Fred and George’ because I like those names and they fitted well with the old fashioned names of the other Weasley brothers), but it is a funny coincidence!

Fred and George have red hair because Ron does; in other words, I created Ron as a character first, then invented his brothers and sister.

You say that people cannot Apparate or Disapparate within Hogwarts and yet Dobby manages it, why is this?

House-elves are different from wizards; they have their own brand of magic, and the ability to appear and disappear within the castle is necessary to them if they are to go about their work unseen, as house-elves traditionally do.

Will there be two chapters in the sixth book called ‘Lupin’s Papers’ and ‘The Lovegoods in Court’?

No, that’s another pile of Storgé, I’m afraid.

Did the character Hedvig in Henrik Ibsen’s “The Wild Duck” influence the naming of Harry Potter’s owl?

No, I found St. Hedwig in a book of medieval saints years ago, and the name stuck fast in my memory.

In “Philosopher’s Stone” Aunt Petunia says that Lily came back from Hogwarts with frog spawn in her pockets and turned teacups into rats. If this is true, why wasn’t Lily expelled?

Aunt Petunia is exaggerating a little; you have to allow for her state of mind when she started shrieking these things. However, just like her son, Lily was not averse to testing the limits of the Statute of Secrecy, so you can safely assume she will have had a few warning letters – nothing too serious, though.

Why did Colin Creevey’s camera work etc?

As a vast number of people have pointed out to me in the last twenty four hours (some of them related to me by ties of blood) Colin DID develop a photograph from his camera in ‘Chamber of Secrets’ (my previous answer stated that he never did so).

Cameras, like radios (or, as the wizards call them ‘wirelesses’ – they’re always a bit behind the times when it comes to Muggle technology) do exist in the wizarding world (there’s a radio in the Weasleys’ kitchen and we know there are cameras because of the moving photographs you see everywhere). Wizards do not need electricity to make these things work; they function by magic, but in the case of such objects the wizards liked the Muggle invention enough to appropriate the idea without adding cumbersome plugs/batteries.

I have an old notebook in which it says dev sol (potion) magic [indecipherable word] photos move. Adept as I am at interpreting my old scribbles, I can tell you that the original idea was that wizards would use a magical developing potion to make their photographs move.

SO… as Colin’s batteries can’t work in Hogwarts, clearly his camera is running off the magical atmosphere and he is then developing his photographs in the magical potion that causes the figures therein to move. All of which goes to show that Colin has a lot more initiative than I ever realised.

The poll question answer has also been queried, but I didn’t get that one wrong – for details, see P.S.

I have learned something from this experience, which is that when you read through twenty chapters at a sitting, then decide to do some FAQs for the website in the early hours of the morning, you mess up. I’ll make sure I’m a bit more alert for the next batch.

What is the significance of Neville being the other boy to whom the prophecy might have referred?

Finally, I am answering the poll question! I am sorry it has taken so long, but let me start by saying how glad I am that this was the question that received the most votes, because this was the one that I most wanted to answer. Some of you might not like what I am going to say – but I’ll address that issue at the end of my response!

To recap: Neville was born on the 30th of July, the day before Harry, so he too was born ‘as the seventh month dies’. His parents, who were both famous Aurors, had ‘thrice defied’ Voldemort, just as Lily and James had. Voldemort was therefore presented with the choice of two baby boys to whom the prophecy might apply. However, he did not entirely realise what the implications of attacking them might be, because he had not heard the entire prophecy. As Dumbledore says:

‘He [the eavesdropper] only heard the beginning, the part foretelling the birth of a boy in July to parents who had thrice defied Voldemort. Consequently, he could not warn his master that to attack you would be to risk transferring power to you.’

In effect, the prophecy gave Voldemort the choice of two candidates for his possible nemesis. In choosing which boy to murder, he was also (without realising it) choosing which boy to anoint as the Chosen One – to give him tools no other wizard possessed – the scar and the ability it conferred, a magical window into Voldemort’s mind.

So what would have happened if Voldemort had decided that the pure-blood, not the half-blood, was the bigger threat? What would have happened if he had attacked Neville instead? Harry wonders this during the course of ‘Half-Blood Prince’ and concludes, rightly, that the answer hinges on whether or not one of Neville’s parents would have been able, or prepared, to die for their son in the way that Lily died for Harry. If they hadn’t, Neville would have been killed outright. Had Frank or Alice thrown themselves in front of Neville, however, the killing curse would have rebounded just as it did in Harry’s case, and Neville would have been the one who survived with the lightning scar. What would this have meant? Would a Neville bearing the lightning scar have been as successful at evading Voldemort as Harry has been? Would Neville have had the qualities that have enabled Harry to remain strong and sane throughout all of his many ordeals? Although Dumbledore does not say as much, he does not believe so: he believes Voldemort did indeed choose the boy most likely to be able to topple him, for Harry’s survival has not depended wholly or even mainly upon his scar.

So where does this leave Neville, the boy who was so nearly King? Well, it does not give him either hidden powers or a mysterious destiny. He remains a ‘normal’ wizarding boy, albeit one with a past, in its way, as tragic as Harry’s. As you saw in ‘Order of the Phoenix,’ however, Neville is not without his own latent strengths. It remains to be seen how he will feel if he ever finds out how close he came to being the Chosen One.

Some of you, who have been convinced that the prophecy marked Neville, in some mystical fashion, for a fate intertwined with Harry’s, may find this answer rather dull. Yet I was making what I felt was a significant point about Harry and Voldemort, and about prophecies themselves, in showing Neville as the also-ran. If neither boy was ‘pre-ordained’ before Voldemort’s attack to become his possible vanquisher, then the prophecy (like the one the witches make to Macbeth, if anyone has read the play of the same name) becomes the catalyst for a situation that would never have occurred if it had not been made. Harry is propelled into a terrifying position he might never have sought, while Neville remains the tantalising ‘might-have-been’. Destiny is a name often given in retrospect to choices that had dramatic consequences.

Of course, none of this should be taken to mean that Neville does not have a significant part to play in the last two novels, or the fight against Voldemort. As for the prophecy itself, it remains ambiguous, not only to readers, but to my characters. Prophecies (think of Nostradamus!) are usually open to many different interpretations. That is both their strength and their weakness.

Godric’s Hollow: street, house, tree…? [Mugglenet/Lexicon question – also asked a lot in fan mail]

Godric’s Hollow is a village.

On your website, you used the term “marauders” to refer to James and his friends. Were they actually called that or are you just borrowing the fan term? [Mugglenet/Lexicon question]

James, Sirius, Remus and Peter dubbed themselves ‘marauders’, hence the way they titled the map.

Is Theodore Nott the “stringy” Slytherin mentioned in the Thestral class scene? If he isn’t, who is that boy? [Mugglenet/Lexicon question]

Yes, he is. In my notes Nott is also described as ‘rabbity’ in appearance.

What is the core of Hermione’s wand? [asked by vast numbers of people]

Dragon heartstring, so Harry, Ron and Hermione unite the three Ollivander wand cores (other wandmakers may use different substances, as shown by Fleur’s wand, but Ollivander is widely acknowledged to be the best maker).

I have added more information on wands (including Hermione’s) in the ‘Extras’ Section (Miscellaneous).

When Hermione arrived at Hogwarts, was she nearly eleven or nearly twelve? [also asked by vast numbers of people]

She was nearly twelve; you must be at least eleven to attend Hogwarts.

Do all young people in Britain’s Wizarding World go to Hogwarts? For example, did Stan Shunpike attend Hogwarts? Or is Hogwarts a school just for those who are particularly good at magic while others go into trades without formal schooling? [Mugglenet/Lexicon question]

Everyone who shows magical ability before their eleventh birthday will automatically gain a place at Hogwarts; there is no question of not being ‘magical enough’; you are either magical or you are not. There is no obligation to take up the place, however; a family might not want their child to attend Hogwarts.

On a related note, I have added some information on Squibs in the ‘Extras’ Section (Miscellaneous).

Have you started writing book seven yet?

I have just completed the very last tiny edits on ‘Half-Blood Prince’, so I’m now taking a few months off to concentrate on my new daughter (not to mention the old daughter and the not-so-old son!) I daresay my fingers will itch for a pen before long, they usually do, but I doubt I’ll be doing any sustained writing on HP7 for many months yet.

Do you like ‘Half-Blood Prince’?

I like it better than I liked ‘Goblet’, ‘Phoenix’ or ‘Chamber’ when I finished them. Book six does what I wanted it to do and even if nobody else likes it (and some won’t), I know it will remain one of my favourites of the series. Ultimately you have to please yourself before you please anyone else!

How did you feel about the POA filmmakers leaving the Marauder’s Map’s background out of the story? (A Mugglenet/Lexicon question)

I was fine with it. It is simply impossible to incorporate every one of my storylines into a film that has to be kept under four hours long. Obviously films have restrictions novels do not have, constraints of time and budget; I can create dazzling effects relying on nothing but the interaction of my own and my readers’ imaginations – hence my preference for the page over the screen.

Is Flitwick a short human or is he some other type of being? (A Mugglenet/Lexicon question)

Just like Dean Thomas (see ‘Extras’), Flitwick has a background that I now realise will never see its way into the books because it is not relevant to the plot. He is human but with a dash of goblin ancestry – something like a great, great, great grandfather. This is only interesting in as much as it gives him a perhaps unexpected empathy for people like Hagrid who are, in Death Eater parlance, half-breeds. However, Flitwick and Hagrid have never had a scene together, so Flitwick’s genetic composition has been relegated to the very back of my mind over the six novels in which he features, although I think it has informed his character. Slightly dotty though he may be, he is welcoming of all students, whatever their background (he did say in ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ that he was very fond of Lily, thus establishing that he was not prejudiced against Muggle-borns).

I must admit, I was taken aback when I saw the film Flitwick, who looks very much like a goblin/elf (I’ve never actually asked the filmmakers precisely what he is), because the Flitwick in my imagination simply looks like a very small old man.

Did you actually write the information that ended up on the Famous Wizard cards? For that matter, what about the spells in the films? Did you invent those or did Steve Kloves? And why were new incantations created for the movie in the first place? (Example: “Incendio” to “Lacarnum Inflamari”.) (A Mugglenet/Lexicon question)

Yes, I wrote the information on the original Famous Wizard cards. As you have noticed, a few of them have now popped up on the ‘Wizard of the Month’ cards on my website desk.

Spells in the films – there I’ve lost track. Steve invented some and I gave him others. Some of the new incantations, such as ‘lacarnum inflamari’ must have sounded more dramatic onscreen – although by the time you’ve managed to say ‘lacarnum inflamari’, you’ve surely lost precious seconds in which the Devil’s Snare might have throttled you. But that’s showbiz.

So how DO the members of the Order of the Phoenix communicate with each other?

I was surprised that this particular question won the poll, because the answer (as I’ve already said) can be found in an already-published book (Goblet of Fire), whereas the other two questions related to book six. But perhaps I was influenced by the fact that I knew the other two questions had interesting answers – and, of course, you will shortly know the answers to those questions anyway!

Members of the Order use their Patronuses to communicate with each other. They are the only wizards who know how to use their spirit guardians in this way and they have been taught to do so by Dumbledore (he invented this method of communication). The Patronus is an immensely efficient messenger for several reasons: it is an anti-Dark Arts device, which makes it highly resilient to interference from Dark wizards; it is not hindered by physical barriers; each Patronus is unique and distinctive, so that there is never any doubt which Order member has sent it; nobody else can conjure another person’s Patronus, so there is no danger of false messages being passed between Order members; nothing conspicuous needs to be carried by the Order member to create a Patronus.

And, as many of you have deduced, Dumbledore’s Patronus is indeed a phoenix.

Are all the pure-blood families going to die out? (We’ve lost the Blacks and the Crouches during the series)

Don’t forget that, as Sirius revealed in ‘Order of the Phoenix’, none of these families is really ‘pure’ – in other words, they merely cross Muggles and Squibs off the family tree and pretend that they didn’t exist. But yes, the number of families claiming to be pure is diminishing. By refusing to marry Muggles or Muggle-borns, they are finding it increasingly difficult to perpetuate themselves. This subject is touched upon in ‘Half-Blood Prince’.

What education do the children of wizards have before going to Hogwarts?

They are, as many of you have guessed, most often home educated. With very young children, as you glimpsed at the wizards’ camp before the Quidditch World Cup in ‘Goblet of Fire’, there is the constant danger that they will use magic, whether inadvertently or deliberately; they cannot be trusted to keep their true abilities hidden. Even Muggle-borns like Harry attract a certain amount of unwelcome attention at Muggle schools by re-growing their hair overnight and so on.

Nicholas Flamel is in the book ‘the Da Vinci Code’, did you get his name from there?

No, Nicholas Flamel is a historical character. Flamel lived in France in the fourteenth century and is supposed to have discovered how to make a philosopher’s stone. There are mentions of sightings of him through the centuries because he was supposed to have gained immortality. There are still streets named after Flamel and his wife Perenelle in Paris.

When the Marauder’s Map is insulting Snape, how did Prongs write his insult as he’s dead?

Wizards have ways of making sure their voices are heard after their death – think of Bertha Jorkins rising out of the Pensieve in ‘Goblet of Fire’, the Sorting Hat continuing to spout the wisdom of the Founders hundreds of years after their deaths, the ghosts walking around Hogwarts, the portraits of dead headmasters and mistresses in Dumbledore’s office, not to mention Mrs. Black’s portrait in number twelve, Grimmauld Place… there are other examples, too, of which the Marauder’s Map is merely one. It is not really Prongs writing the insult to Snape, it is as though he left a magical recording of his voice within the map.

We haven’t heard the school song since the first book. Did the teachers rebel against it?

Dumbledore called for the school song when he was feeling particularly buoyant, but times are becoming ever darker in the wizarding world. Should Dumbledore ever suggest a rousing encore, you may assume that he is on top form once more.

Veritaserum plays a big part in finding out the truth from Mad-Eye Moody in book four. Why then is it not used for example in the trials mentioned in the same book? It would be much easier in solving problems like whether Sirius Black was guilty or not?

Veritaserum works best upon the unsuspecting, the vulnerable and those insufficiently skilled (in one way or another) to protect themselves against it. Barty Crouch had been attacked before the potion was given to him and was still very groggy, otherwise he could have employed a range of measures against the Potion – he might have sealed his own throat and faked a declaration of innocence, transformed the Potion into something else before it touched his lips, or employed Occlumency against its effects. In other words, just like every other kind of magic within the books, Veritaserum is not infallible. As some wizards can prevent themselves being affected, and others cannot, it is an unfair and unreliable tool to use at a trial.

Sirius might have volunteered to take the potion had he been given the chance, but he was never offered it. Mr. Crouch senior, power mad and increasingly unjust in the way he was treating suspects, threw him into Azkaban on the (admittedly rather convincing) testimony of many eyewitnesses. The sad fact is that even if Sirius had told the truth under the influence of the Potion, Mr. Crouch could still have insisted that he was using trickery to render himself immune to it.

Is the plural of ‘Horcrux’ ‘Horcri?’

No, the plural of ‘Horcrux’ is ‘Horcruxes’, as demonstrated by the eponymous chapter in ‘Half-Blood Prince.’

What does ‘Deathly Hallows’ mean?

Any clarification of the meaning of ‘Hallows’ would give away too much of the story – well, it would, wouldn’t it? Being the title and all. So I’m afraid I’m not answering.

Please will you tell us what were the other two titles you considered?

You asked so politely, and yet I have to decline… maybe after publication…

Are Alecto and Amycus (the two sibling Death Eaters) the Carrows mentioned by Snape in Spinner’s End?

Yes, they are.

What houses were Tonks and Myrtle in?

Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw respectively.

What is Draco Malfoy’s Patronus?

As of the end of Half-Blood Prince, he has no idea how to produce one, so nobody knows. You must remember that the ability to produce a Patronus demonstrates an advanced level of magic not routinely taught to young Hogwarts students (hence the surprise of the prospective members of Dumbledore’s Army when they find out that Harry can make a Patronus).

We learned in book six that Merope Gaunt staggered into the orphanage of New Year’s Eve and gave birth to Tom Riddle ‘within the hour’. Was Voldemort born on December 31st or January 1st?

He was born on December 31st.

What are the properties of Draco’s wand? Can we assume that its wood is hawthorn, as per the chart on your site?

Interestingly (to me) I decided that Draco had a hawthorn wand independently of the chart. So yes, it is hawthorn, and by a bizarre coincidence I assigned him that wood, as I assigned Harry holly, without realising it was the ‘right’ one. Spooky… but for various reasons hawthorn seems to suit Draco as holly suits Harry.

What exactly was the mutilated baby-like creature Harry saw at King’s Cross in chapter 35 of ‘Hallows’?

I’ve been asked this a LOT. It is the last piece of soul Voldemort possesses. When Voldemort attacks Harry, they both fall temporarily unconscious, and both their souls – Harry’s undamaged and healthy, Voldemort’s stunted and maimed – appear in the limbo where Harry meets Dumbledore.

What exactly happened when Voldemort used the Avada Kedavra curse on Harry in the forest?

Again, Voldemort violated deep laws of magic he did not understand, but there is more to it than that.

Having taken Harry’s blood into himself, Voldemort is keeping alive Lily’s protective power over Harry. So Voldemort himself acts almost like a Horcrux for Harry – except that the power of Lily’s sacrifice is a positive force that not only continues to tether Harry to life, but gives Voldemort himself one last chance (Dumbledore refers to this last hope in chapter 35). Voldemort has unwittingly put a few drops of goodness back inside himself; if he had repented, he could have been healed more deeply than anyone would have supposed. But, of course, he refused to feel remorse.

Voldemort is also using the Elder Wand – the wand that is really Harry’s. It does not work properly against its true owner; no curse Voldemort casts on Harry functions properly; neither the Cruciatus curse nor the Killing Curse. The Avada Kedavra curse, however, is so powerful that it does hurt Harry, and also succeeds in killing the part of him that is not truly him, in other words, the fragment of Voldemort’s own soul still clinging to his. The curse also disables Harry severely enough that he could have succumbed to death if he had chosen that path (again, Dumbledore says he has a choice whether or not to wake up). But Harry does decide to struggle back to consciousness, capitalises on Lily’s ‘escape route’, and pulls himself back to the realm of the living.

It is important to state that I always saw these kinds of magic (the very deepest life and death issues) as essentially un-scientific; in other words, there is no “Elder Wand + Lily’s Blood = Assured Survival” formula. What count, ultimately, are Harry and Voldemort’s own choices. They have each been given certain weapons and safeguards, but the power of these objects and past happenings lie in how they are understood, and how they are used or enacted upon. Harry has a deeper and truer understanding of the meaning of the objects and past events, but his greatest powers, those that save him, are free will, courage and moral certainty.

Why ‘The Scottish Book’?

After my recent appearance on Leaky’s podcast, several people have asked me why I called the as-yet-unpublished Encyclopaedia of Potterworld ‘the Scottish Book’. Answer: it was a joke, though evidently not a very good one…

There is a superstition that it is unlucky to speak the name ‘Macbeth’ in the theatre, so actors always refer to it as ‘the Scottish Play’. Given the contentiousness that has sprung up around the Encyclopaedia lately, I simply thought we might start showing it similar respect!

What happens to a secret when the Secret-Keeper dies?

I was surprised that this question won, because it is not the one that I’d have voted for… but hey, if this is what you want to know, this is what you want to know!

When a Secret-Keeper dies, their secret dies with them, or, to put it another way, the status of their secret will remain as it was at the moment of their death. Everybody in whom they confided will continue to know the hidden information, but nobody else.

Just in case you have forgotten exactly how the Fidelius Charm works, it is

“an immensely complex spell involving the magical concealment of a secret inside a single, living soul. The information is hidden inside the chosen person, or Secret-Keeper, and is henceforth impossible to find — unless, of course, the Secret-Keeper chooses to divulge it” (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)

In other words, a secret (eg, the location of a family in hiding, like the Potters) is enchanted so that it is protected by a single Keeper (in our example, Peter Pettigrew, a.k.a. Wormtail). Thenceforth nobody else – not even the subjects of the secret themselves – can divulge the secret. Even if one of the Potters had been captured, force fed Veritaserum or placed under the Imperius Curse, they would not have been able to give away the whereabouts of the other two. The only people who ever knew their precise location were those whom Wormtail had told directly, but none of them would have been able to pass on the information.

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Biography (Desktop Website)

Index ID: BIODW — Publication date: May 15th, 2004

Note: This is J.K. Rowling's biography written by herself for her 2004 website.

My mother and father were both Londoners. They met on a train travelling from King’s Cross station to Arbroath in Scotland when they were both eighteen; my father was off to join the Royal Navy, my mother to join the WRNS (the women’s equivalent). My mother said she was cold, my father offered her a half share in his coat, and they got married just over a year later, when they were nineteen.

Both left the navy and moved to the outskirts of Bristol, in the West of England. My mother gave birth to me when she was twenty. I was a rotund baby. The description in ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ of the photographs of ‘what appeared to be a beach ball wearing different coloured bobble hats’ would also apply to the pictures of my early years.

My sister Di arrived a year and eleven months after me. The day of her birth is my earliest memory, or my earliest datable memory, anyway. I distinctly remember playing with a bit of plasticine in the kitchen while my father rushed in and out of the room, hurrying backwards and forwards to my mother, who was giving birth in their bedroom. I know I didn’t invent this memory because I checked the details later with my mother. I also have a vivid mental picture of walking into their bedroom a little while later, hand in hand with my father, and seeing my mother lying in bed in her nightdress next to my beaming sister, who is stark naked with a full head of hair and looks about five years old. Although I clearly pasted together this bizarre false memory out of bits of hearsay when I was a child, it is so vivid that it still comes to mind if I ever think about Di being born.

Di had – and still has – very dark, almost black hair, and dark brown eyes like my mother’s, and she was considerably prettier than I was (and she still is). As compensation, I think, my parents decided that I must be ‘the bright one’. We both resented our labels. I really wanted to be less freckly-beach-ball-like, and Di, who is now a lawyer, felt justifiably annoyed that nobody had noticed she was not just a pretty face. This undoubtedly contributed to the fact that we spent about three quarters of our childhood fighting like a pair of wildcats imprisoned together in a very small cage. To this day, Di bears a tiny scar just above her eyebrow from the cut I gave her when I threw a battery at her – but I didn’t expect to hit her, I thought she’d duck! (This excuse didn’t cut much ice with my mother, who was angrier than I had ever seen her).

We left the bungalow when I was four and moved to Winterbourne, also on the outskirts of Bristol. Now we lived in a semi-detached house with STAIRS, which prompted Di and I to re-enact, over and over again, a clifftop drama in which one of us would ‘dangle’ from the topmost stair, holding hands with the other and pleading with them not to let go, offering all manner of bribery and blackmail, until falling to their ‘death’. We found this endlessly amusing. I think the last time we played the cliff game was two Christmases ago; my nine-year-old daughter didn’t find it nearly as funny as we did.

The small amount of time that we didn’t spend fighting, Di and I were best friends. I told her a lot of stories and sometimes didn’t even have to sit on her to make her stay and listen. Often the stories became games in which we both played regular characters. I was extremely bossy when I stage-managed these long-running plays but Di put up with it because I usually gave her star parts.

There were lots of children around our age living in our new street, among them a brother and sister whose surname was Potter. I always liked their name, whereas I wasn’t very fond of my own; ‘Rowling’ (the first syllable of which is pronounced ‘row’ as in boat, rather than ‘row’ as in argument) lent itself to woeful jokes such as ‘Rowling stone’, ‘Rowling pin’ and so on. Anyway, the brother has since cropped up in the press claiming to ‘be’ Harry. His mother has also told reporters that he and I used to dress up as wizards. Neither of these claims is true; in fact, all I remember of the boy in question was that he rode a ‘Chopper’, which was the bicycle everybody wanted in the seventies, and once threw a stone at Di, for which I hit him hard over the head with a plastic sword (I was the only one allowed to throw things at Di).

I enjoyed school in Winterbourne. It was a very relaxed environment; I remember lots of pottery making, drawing and story writing, which suited me perfectly. However, my parents had always harboured a dream of living in the country, and around my ninth birthday we moved for the last time, to Tutshill, a small village just outside Chepstow, in Wales.

The move coincided almost exactly with the death of my favourite grandparent, Kathleen, whose name I later took when I needed an extra initial. No doubt the first bereavement of my life influenced my feelings about my new school, which I didn’t like at all. We sat all day at roll-top desks facing the blackboard. There were old inkwells set into the desktops. There was a second hole in my desk, which had been gouged out with the point of a compass by the boy who had sat there the year before. He had obviously worked away quietly out of the sight of the teacher. I thought this was a great achievement, and set to work enlarging the hole with my own compass, so that by the time I left that classroom you could comfortably wiggle your thumb through it.

My secondary school, Wyedean, where I went when I was eleven, was the place I met Sean Harris, to whom Chamber of Secrets is dedicated and who owned the original Ford Anglia. He was the first of my friends to learn to drive and that turquoise and white car meant FREEDOM and no more having to ask my father to give me lifts, which is the worst thing about living in the countryside when you are a teenager. Some of the happiest memories of my teenage years involve zooming off into the darkness in Sean’s car. He was the first person with whom I really discussed my serious ambition to be a writer and he was also the only person who thought I was bound to be a success at it, which meant much more to me than I ever told him at the time.

The worst thing that happened during my teenage years was my mother becoming ill. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which is a disease of the central nervous system, when I was fifteen. Although most people with multiple sclerosis experience periods of remission – when their illness stops progressing for a while, or even improves – Mum was unlucky; from the time of her diagnosis onwards she seemed to become slowly but steadily worse. I think most people believe, deep down, that their mothers are indestructible; it was a terrible shock to hear that she had an incurable illness, but even then, I did not fully realise what the diagnosis might mean.

I left school in 1983 and went to study at the University of Exeter, on the south coast of England. I studied French, which was a mistake; I had succumbed to parental pressure to study ‘useful’ modern languages as opposed to ‘but-where-will-it-lead?’ English and really should have stood my ground. On the plus side, studying French meant that I had a year living in Paris as part of my course.

After leaving university I worked in London; my longest job was with Amnesty International, the organisation that campaigns against human rights abuses all over the world. But in 1990, my then boyfriend and I decided to move up to Manchester together. It was after a weekend’s flat-hunting, when I was travelling back to London on my own on a crowded train, that the idea for Harry Potter simply fell into my head.

I had been writing almost continuously since the age of six but I had never been so excited about an idea before. To my immense frustration, I didn’t have a functioning pen with me, and I was too shy to ask anybody if I could borrow one. I think, now, that this was probably a good thing, because I simply sat and thought, for four (delayed train) hours, and all the details bubbled up in my brain, and this scrawny, black-haired, bespectacled boy who didn’t know he was a wizard became more and more real to me. I think that perhaps if I had had to slow down the ideas so that I could capture them on paper I might have stifled some of them (although sometimes I do wonder, idly, how much of what I imagined on that journey I had forgotten by the time I actually got my hands on a pen).

I began to write ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ that very evening, although those first few pages bear no resemblance at all to anything in the finished book. I moved up to Manchester, taking the swelling manuscript with me, which was now growing in all sorts of strange directions, and including ideas for the rest of Harry’s career at Hogwarts, not just his first year. Then, on December 30th 1990, something happened that changed both my world and Harry’s forever: my mother died.

It was a terrible time. My father, Di and I were devastated; she was only forty five years old and we had never imagined – probably because we could not bear to contemplate the idea – that she could die so young. I remember feeling as though there was a paving slab pressing down upon my chest, a literal pain in my heart.

Nine months later, desperate to get away for a while, I left for Portugal, where I had got a job teaching English in a language institute. I took with me the still-growing manuscript of Harry Potter, hopeful that my new working hours (I taught in the afternoon and evening) would lend themselves to pressing on with my novel, which had changed a lot since my mother had died. Now, Harry’s feelings about his dead parents had become much deeper, much more real. In my first weeks in Portugal I wrote my favourite chapter in Philosopher’s Stone, The Mirror of Erised.

I had hoped that when I returned from Portugal I would have a finished book under my arm. In fact, I had something even better: my daughter. I had met and married a Portuguese man, and although the marriage did not work out, it had given me the best thing in my life. Jessica and I arrived in Edinburgh, where my sister Di was living, just in time for Christmas 1994.

I intended to start teaching again and knew that unless I finished the book very soon, I might never finish it; I knew that full-time teaching, with all the marking and lesson planning, let alone with a small daughter to care for single-handedly, would leave me with absolutely no spare time at all. And so I set to work in a kind of frenzy, determined to finish the book and at least try and get it published. Whenever Jessica fell asleep in her pushchair I would dash to the nearest cafe and write like mad. I wrote nearly every evening. Then I had to type the whole thing out myself. Sometimes I actually hated the book, even while I loved it.

Finally it was done. I covered the first three chapters in a nice plastic folder and set them off to an agent, who returned them so fast they must have been sent back the same day they arrived. But the second agent I tried wrote back and asked to see the rest of the manuscript. It was far and away the best letter I had ever received in my life, and it was only two sentences long.

It took a year for my new agent, Christopher, to find a publisher. Lots of them turned it down. Then, finally, in August 1996, Christopher telephoned me and told me that Bloomsbury had ‘made an offer.’ I could not quite believe my ears. ‘You mean it’s going to be published?’ I asked, rather stupidly. ‘It’s definitely going to be published?’ After I had hung up, I screamed and jumped into the air; Jessica, who was sitting in her high-chair enjoying tea, looked thoroughly scared.

And you probably know what happened next.

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News (Desktop Website)

Index ID: NEWSDW — Publication date: March 2004 to October 2008

Monday 15 March 2004
Progress on Book Six

Book six is well underway, hooray, though I am still at the stage where I have a large and complicated chart propped on the desk in front of me to remind me what happens where, how, to whom and which bits of crucial information need to be slipped into which innocent-looking chapters. I started writing Harry Potter Six before my son David (who has just turned one) was born, but then took a bit of a break during the serious sleep-deprivation phase of his babyhood. I am really enjoying writing this book, though for the first time I am conscious that I am approaching the end of the series. So much of what happens in book six relates to book seven that I feel almost as though they are two halves of the same novel. Regular visitors to this site will find information about what’s in book six if they can work out where to look. Patience is the key.

Monday 15 March 2004
Mugglenet Chatroom Uninterested in JKR’s Theories

A few weeks ago I did something I’ve never done before and took a stroll into a Harry Potter chat room: specifically, MuggleNet’s chat room. Although I was concerned to find that many of the moderators feel their spiritual home is Slytherin, this is a great site. Nobody was remotely interested in my theories about what’s going to happen in book seven, though. In the end, I gave up trying to impart any gems of wisdom and joined in the discussion about SpongeBob SquarePants (don’t ask). I would like to take this opportunity to say that the practise of calling Lord Voldemort ‘Voldie’ must stop, as must the insistence that with a bit of therapy ‘Voldie’ would be a real sweetheart. I might drop in again some time to check that you’ve done as you’ve been told. Look out for ‘Squidward’.

Monday 15 March 2004
Forged JKR Signatures

If you or any of your loved ones is thinking of buying a ‘signed’ Harry Potter book, please be careful. The number of forged signatures has increased greatly over the last few years. You should be particularly suspicious of signed copies of ‘Order of the Phoenix’. I have never done a book signing for ‘Phoenix’, so signed British copies are very rare, American copies even rarer and other foreign editions (so far) virtually non-existent. Any copy of ‘Phoenix’ purporting to have been signed at the ‘Picadilly’ signing is highly likely to be a fake, for instance. I sign books for charity and in special circumstances but, as explained in the FAQ section, I can no longer begin to keep up with the demand for signed books. Unfortunately there are unscrupulous people who are only too ready to step into the breach and exploit Harry Potter fans.

Wednesday 2 June 2004
Reaction to

Watching Harry Potter fans spread the news about this site, work out all the riddles in about ten minutes, collect all the prizes, then proceed to hack the site apart looking for more clues… well, I must say I never dreamed that sitting in front of a computer could be so much fun. I can see that this site is going to be a great source of entertainment and amusement to me. I would like to make two points: firstly, as I said in a recent interview, if there is ever a time when I am not doing updates, it is because I am writing hard. Either way, you win! Secondly, since the updated website went live, many people have been enthusiastically emailing Christopher Little, my agent, Colman Getty, my PR firm, and even Lightmaker, who run the site. None of these people can answer such emails, nor will they be passed to me. As I say in my ‘welcome’ note, this website has been created precisely because I cannot answer fans individually any more. You will find my response to some of the rumours about the site in (where else?) Rumours.

Wednesday 2 June 2004
London Premiere of Prisoner of Azkaban

I first saw ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’ a few weeks ago when it was barely finished. I loved it immediately: it is my favourite Harry Potter film so far, so I was looking forward to seeing it again on Sunday. The premiere was fun, as always. It was the first time I had met Gary Oldman, David Thewlis and Michael Gambon, all of whom do a really magnificent job in the film. And it was, as ever, great to see Dan, Rupert and Emma, who get taller and better looking (and in Emma’s case, more beautiful) every time I see them, and are still, miraculously, the most grounded, least egotistical teenage actors you are ever likely to meet. The last time I saw Dan at the after-premiere party he was encircled by a group of determined female fans who were not keen on letting anyone else near him, and that included passing writers, but we managed to shout a few words at each other… Somebody from Warner Bros. offered me one of the giant, blow-up Aunt Marges that they had tied around the front of the cinema, but I thought it would have been more fun to untie them and let them drift over the country for the next couple of days. Pink Floyd did it with that giant inflatable pig… but most of the people reading this will be too young to know what on earth I’m talking about.

Tuesday 29 June 2004
Title of Book Six: The Truth

Well, the door opened at last and I showed you the title of book six – the genuine title, the title that will appear on the published book, the title I have been using in my head for ages and ages. Unfortunately, however, the door opened on the very same day the ‘Pillar of Storgé’ hoaxer struck, which left a lot of Harry Potter fans bemused as to whether I was having a joke at their expense by posting another fake title to ‘teach hoaxers a lesson’, something I certainly wouldn’t do, as it would simply frustrate, confuse or annoy the 99.9% of you who aren’t hoaxers! I tried to give a clear hint that the title behind the door was the real one by making the ‘Toenail’ joke as well (see ‘Rumours’). But just to clear up matters once and for all… Information you take directly from this site will be truthful and accurate (I might occasionally joke, but as time goes on, you’ll learn to tell when I’m joking). Do not trust anybody else claiming to have found information on this site that you cannot access, however seemingly convincing the images they provide to support their story. I never post information on the site that I do not want fans to read immediately. In other words, anybody claiming to have ‘discovered’ a message that wasn’t due for release yet is lying. There was never anything meaningful behind the door until the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign came off! The ‘Pillar of Storgé’ was never my title, and I did not change it at the eleventh hour because I was ‘found out’ (I nearly fell off my chair giggling when I read this). I was delighted to see that a hard core of super-bright fans knew that the real title was once, in the long distant past, a possibility for ‘Chamber of Secrets’, and from that deduced that it was genuine. Certain crucial pieces of information in book six were originally planned for ‘Chamber of Secrets’, but very early on (first draft of Chamber) I realised that this information’s proper home was book six. I have said before now that ‘Chamber’ holds some very important clues to the ultimate end of the series. Not as many as six, obviously, but there is a link. Anyway: if you continue to exercise patience, you will find that the Do Not Disturb Door opens again… and again… giving you further hints about book six. But as a little bonus, and compensation for having been messed around by Mr. or Ms. Storgé, I shall tell you one thing without making you shift any bricks at all: the HBP is neither Harry nor Voldemort. And that’s all I’m saying on THAT subject until the book’s published.

Saturday 10 July 2004

I will be reading and answering questions at the Edinburgh Book Festival on 15th August this year. This will be my fifth appearance at the Edinburgh Festival; there have been readings for each of the first four Potter books, and this time my appearance will coincide (roughly) with the UK publication of ‘Order of the Phoenix’ in paperback. I am looking forward to this event very much, because there will be a relatively small audience, which means I can see faces and take questions directly from the fans. Of course, events such as the readings at the Toronto Skydome and the Albert Hall are incredible, but nothing can replace the pleasure of interacting with enthusiastic readers, as opposed to waving at a sea of skin coloured blobs. As the number of tickets is restricted, they will be available by ballot rather than on a first come, first served basis. To apply for tickets, buy the Herald newspaper on Saturday 10th July or the Sunday Herald on 11th July to get a ballot form, or visit Bloomsbury’s website at, where you can apply online from Monday 12th July.

Saturday 24 July 2004

I am really delighted to say that I am expecting a third baby, who is due next year. I always wanted three children, so I could not be happier. Now, I know that many Harry Potter fans’ first reaction will be what does this mean for the timing of book six? (I’m not maligning you… I’m sure you’re happy for me… but I know you really want that book!) So let me reassure you that book six remains well on track and, fingers crossed of course, I don’t foresee any baby-related interruptions or delays. I still can’t say for sure when it will be finished, but I have written a lot and I really like it (a reckless challenge to fate, that; I bet the next chapter goes horribly wrong now).

Sunday 15 August 2004
J K Rowling at the Edinburgh Book Festival

Lindsey Fraser: Well, we must be the luckiest five hundred people in Edinburgh today. My name is Lindsey Fraser and I am delighted to congratulate you, on behalf of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, on getting up so early on this Sunday morning. Welcome to this very special event. Of course, J K Rowling does not need an introduction, so my job is really very easy today. Thanks to the Harry Potter books, her life has changed dramatically— I am sure that you know how the story goes. Thanks to the Harry Potter books, our lives have changed as well. We are part of an international readership and that is reflected in the fact that some of the people here today have travelled from far and wide. It is like a huge reading club that is immersed in the world that she has created. She does not often talk directly to her readers these days, and no wonder. She is too busy writing huge thick books to get out much, but she has made an exception today, first to read from her latest novel and then to take some of your questions. I know that you want to show how very pleased you are to see her today. Ladies and gentlemen, Jo Rowling. J K Rowling: Morning. I am going to do a very short reading for you from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and then I will take some questions. Is there anyone here who has not finished reading the book? I know that there is someone at the back, because I know her and she told me. They seem to be mainly grown-ups: would that be right? If there are any younger people who have not finished reading the book, we need to be careful not to give away the big ending, if you know what I mean. If you have questions about the big ending, maybe you could save them for when you get your book signed afterwards. I try not to ruin people’s appreciation of the book if they are still reading it, so I have chosen a reading from quite early on in the book, just before Harry goes back to Hogwarts. He and Ron get quite a surprise—for Harry, it is quite an unpleasant surprise, I have to say. J K Rowling read an excerpt from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Questions from the audience Out of all your books, which one is your favourite? It varies. I would have to say that it is probably Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, although at the moment—it is unfair of me to say it—Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is my favourite book. Sorry. I am the only one who has read it and I think it is rather good. I am normally like this when I write a book. Usually when I am just over halfway I normally love it, but by the time I finish it I completely despise it and think it is worthless rubbish. At the moment, I really like how the sixth book is going. A lot happens in the sixth book and a lot of questions are answered. I really have a sense that we are nearly there and it is time for answers, not more questions and clues, although obviously there are a few clues as I am not quite finished yet. I hope that that is sufficiently frustrating for you, knowing that you can’t read it yet! Which books did you read when you were a child and which books do you read now? When I was a child, I would read absolutely anything. My favourite books for younger people would be I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, which I really love, The Little White Horse, all the classic children’s books… I love E Nesbit—I think she is great and I identify with the way that she writes. Her children are very real children and she was quite a groundbreaker in her day. I also read a lot of adult books. The last novel that I read was Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone, which I have been meaning to read for years. It is a cracking read. I have just been on holiday and, for the first time in five years, I did not take any Iris Murdoch with me, because it is so depressing. I was just about to put one in my case and I thought, “Why do this? Why put yourself through this?”, so I didn’t bother. I read Wilkie Collins instead and it was a much better experience. All the paintings we have seen at Hogwarts are of dead people. They seem to be living through their portraits. How is this so? If there was a painting of Harry’s parents, would he be able to obtain advice from them? That is a very good question. They are all of dead people; they are not as fully realised as ghosts, as you have probably noticed. The place where you see them really talk is in Dumbledore’s office, primarily; the idea is that the previous headmasters and headmistresses leave behind a faint imprint of themselves. They leave their aura, almost, in the office and they can give some counsel to the present occupant, but it is not like being a ghost. They repeat catchphrases, almost. The portrait of Sirius’ mother is not a very 3D personality; she is not very fully realised. She repeats catchphrases that she had when she was alive. If Harry had a portrait of his parents it would not help him a great deal. If he could meet them as ghosts, that would be a much more meaningful interaction, but as Nick explained at the end of Phoenix—I am straying into dangerous territory, but I think you probably know what he explained—there are some people who would not come back as ghosts because they are unafraid, or less afraid, of death. Who is your favourite character in the books? I have loads of favourite characters. I really like Harry, Ron, Hermione, Hagrid and Dumbledore. I love writing Snape—even though he is not always the nicest person, he is really fun to write. I love writing Dudley. If I could meet anyone, I might choose Lupin. I really like him. My favourite new character is Luna—I am very fond of her. Is Aunt Petunia a Squib? Good question. No, she is not, but—[Laughter]. No, she is not a Squib. She is a Muggle, but—[Laughter]. You will have to read the other books. You might have got the impression that there is a little bit more to Aunt Petunia than meets the eye, and you will find out what it is. She is not a squib, although that is a very good guess. Oh, I am giving a lot away here. I am being shockingly indiscreet. How do you think of all the names, like Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs? Those names all came out of the creatures that they turned into. I had a lot of fun with those. Wormtail was the most difficult one. My sister loathes rats and her problem with them is their tails, so that is what gave me the idea. You actually know how I get some names because I stole your Mum’s maiden name, didn’t I? You have to be careful if you get friendly with me because you tend to turn up in my books, and if you offend me, you often turn up as a nasty character. I found the name McClaggan the other day, which I think is a great name. There is a McClaggan in book six because I thought that it is a surname that is too good to waste. In your stories, will Harry Potter ever grow up as a wizard? Well, I don’t think it is giving too much away to say that he will survive to book seven, mainly because I do not want to be strangled by you lot, but I am not going to say whether he grows any older than that because I have never said that. You are good at putting me on the spot! Are any of your characters based on real people? The only character who is deliberately based on a real person is Gilderoy Lockhart. [Laughter]. Maybe he is not the one that you would think of, but I have to say that the living model was worse. [Laughter]. He was a shocker! The lies that he told about adventures that he’d had, things he’d done and impressive acts that he had committed… He was a shocking man. I can say this quite freely because he will never in a million years dream that he is Gilderoy Lockhart. I am always frightened that he is going to turn up one day. He is just one of those people from your past whom you feel you have never quite shaken off. I will look up one day at a signing and he will say, “Hello, Jo”. [Laughter]. Other people have contributed the odd characteristic, such as a nose, to a character, but the only character who I sat down and thought that I would base on someone is Gilderoy Lockhart. It made up for having to endure him for two solid years. Have you written any other books apart from the Harry Potter books? No. I have written other things that have not been published, which I assure you is no great loss to the world. I have written all sorts of different things but nothing else has been published. Some of it might be published one day—I don’t know. There are some unfinished things that I would quite like to finish but I do not know that I would want them to be published. Of the many, many characters in your books, whose personality is most like yours? There is a theory that every character is an extension of the author’s character, which makes me one of the most disturbed people, I think. [Laughter]. I do not know how many characters I’ve got, but it is nudging up towards 200, so I am really in trouble. Hermione is a bit like me when I was younger. I did not set out to make Hermione like me but she is a bit like me. She is an exaggeration of how I was when I was younger. Harry is a bit like me. If you squeeze together Harry, Ron and Hermione… I find them quite easy to write, and I think that that is because they are a bit like different parts of my personality. When you get to someone like Dolores Umbridge, no way—I am absolutely not like her. She is a horrible woman. What form does Dumbledore’s Patronus take? Good question. Can anyone guess? You have had a clue. There was a little whisper there. It is a phoenix, which is very representative of Dumbledore for reasons that I am sure you can guess. What will the seventh book be called? I think you have been put up to that. [Laughter]. I was asked about Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix live on American television by a boy who was just as good looking as you and just as cute. I just said it. I had said no to all the journalists, then a little boy just like you put up his hand and said, “What is the name of the next book?” I said, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”! But I am not going to tell you, I’m sorry. You have no idea of the trouble that I would be in if I did. My agent would have me hunted down and killed, so I am not going to say. Why is the barman of the Hog’s Head vaguely familiar to Harry? Is he Dumbledore’s brother? Ooh—you are getting good. Why do you think that it is Aberforth? [Audience member: Various clues. He smells of goats and he looks a bit like Dumbledore]. I was quite proud of that clue. That is all that I am going to say. [Laughter]. Well yes, obviously. I like the goat clue—I sniggered to myself about that one. Are you happy with the films that have been made? I am happy with the films. Of the three, Azkaban is my favourite. I thought it was really good for a lot of different reasons. I thought that Alfonso Cuaron, the director, did a fantastic job and Dan, Emma and Rupert, who play Harry, Hermione and Ron, were really wonderful in the film—I told them that. How do you make up the weird names for the potions? Sometimes invention gives out. I was writing the latest chapter of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and I needed to come up with another name for another potion. I sat for ten minutes at the keyboard then I just typed “X”. I thought, “I’ll go back and fill that in later.” Sometimes you really want to get on with the story. Sometimes names just come to you, which is a great feeling, but sometimes it is difficult and you have to batter your brain for a while. Sometimes it comes to you while you are washing up or on the loo or something. My husband is quite used to me saying, “Wait!” then running up stairs and writing something down. What do you do in your spare time? I have no spare time at all. [Laughter]. When I’m not writing or looking after the children, I read and sleep. To be totally honest with you, at the moment sleeping is probably my very favourite thing in the world to do. I know that is a bit of a depressing answer. I would like to say I was partying with Mick Jagger—well, I wouldn’t want to be partying with Mick Jagger, that is a complete lie, but it would be a more interesting answer to give you here at the festival. Who was the first character that you invented? Harry. He really is the whole story. The whole plot is contained in Harry Potter; his past, present and future—that is the story. Harry came to me first and everything radiated out from him. I gave him his parents, then his past, then Hogwarts, and the wizarding world got bigger and bigger. He was the starting point. Does Hermione have any brothers or sisters? No, she doesn’t. When I first made up Hermione I gave her a younger sister, but she was very hard to work in. The younger sister was not supposed to go to Hogwarts. She was supposed to remain a Muggle. It was a sideline that didn’t work very well and it did not have a big place in the story. I have deliberately kept Hermione’s family in the background. You see so much of Ron’s family so I thought that I would keep Hermione’s family, by contrast, quite ordinary. They are dentists, as you know. They are a bit bemused by their odd daughter but quite proud of her all the same. Does Harry have a godmother? If so, will she make an appearance in future books? No, he doesn’t. I have thought this through. If Sirius had married… Sirius was too busy being a big rebel to get married. When Harry was born, it was at the very height of Voldemort fever last time so his christening was a very hurried, quiet affair with just Sirius, just the best friend. At that point it looked as if the Potters would have to go into hiding so obviously they could not do the big christening thing and invite lots of people. Sirius is the only one, unfortunately. I have got to be careful what I say there, haven’t I? If you could be one of the characters for a day, who would it be? Definitely not Harry, because I would not want to go through it all. I know what is coming for him so there is no way that I would want to be him. At the moment, I would not want to be any of them, because life is getting quite tough for them. It would be a laugh to be someone like Peeves, causing mayhem and not bothering. Will Ron and Hermione ever get together? Well—[Laughter.] What do you think? [Audience member: I think they will]. I’m not going to say. I can’t say, can I? I think that, by now, I’ve given quite a lot of clues on the subject. That is all I’m going to say. You will have to read between the lines on that one. Have you always wanted to be a book author? Yes. I know that I wanted to be a writer when I was six because I wrote a book then. It was a work of towering genius about a rabbit called Rabbit. I gave it to my mother and she said, “That’s lovely”, as a mother would, “That’s very, very good.” I stood there and thought, “Well, get it published then”. That’s a bit of an odd thing for a child of six to think. I don’t know where it came from. I thought, “Come on, then. Proofs? Galleys?” I obviously really wanted to do it. No one in my family wanted to write. My sister writes very funny letters but they are always about one paragraph long. She does not keep it going in the way that I do. Can you tell me more about Rita Skeeter? I love Rita. You know when Harry walks into the Leaky Cauldron for the first time, in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone? Everyone says, “You’re back” and he realises for the first time that he is famous. In a very early draft, Rita, a journalist, was there and she ran up to him. For some reason she was called Bridget—I forget why. Anyway, she detained him too long in the Leaky Cauldron and I really needed to get him moving, so I thought that I would not put her there. As I was writing book one, I was planning the rest, and book four was supposed to be where Harry’s fame became a burden to him. It really starts to weigh on him when he is exposed to the wider wizarding world so I thought that that would be the perfect place for Rita to come in. She was still called Bridget at the time. I didn’t realise that by the time I wrote book four I would have met quite a lot of Ritas and people would assume that I was writing Rita in response to what had happened to me, which was not in fact the truth. However, I am not going to deny that writing Rita was a lot more fun having met a few people I had met. I actually quite like Rita. She is loathsome—morally, she’s horrible—but I can’t help admiring her toughness. She is very determined to do the job and there is something quite engaging about that. There is more to come on Rita. It is really enjoyable to write her and Hermione because they are such very different people. The scene in which I had Hermione, Rita and Luna together in the pub was really fun to write because they are three very different women with very different points of view. You have this very cynical journalist, you have Hermione, who is very logical, upright and good, and you have Luna, who is completely out to lunch but fantastic. I really like Luna. You have these three people who are not on each other’s wavelengths making a deal. It was fun to write. You have probably had a lot of people trying to get information out of you about the books, but what is the strangest thing, or maybe the slyest thing, anyone has done? Have you ever slipped up? Well, you are pretty sneaky. People ask questions like, “Will there be an eighth novel and will Harry be in it?” There are questions that I simply can’t answer. Fans are very good at that, and I have to be very awake. I think that you want to know but you don’t want to know as well. You would all like me to tell you exactly what happens in books six and seven and then to erase your memories so that you can read them. I know, because that is how I feel about things that I really enjoy. I would kind of like to do it, but at the same time I know that I would ruin it for everyone. I thought that I would give you something though, rather than get to the end of today and think that I have not given you a lot. There are two questions that I have never been asked but that I should have been asked, if you know what I mean. If you want to speculate on anything, you should speculate on these two things, which will point you in the right direction. The first question that I have never been asked—it has probably been asked in a chatroom but no one has ever asked me—is, “Why didn’t Voldemort die?” Not, “Why did Harry live?” but, “Why didn’t Voldemort die?” The killing curse rebounded, so he should have died. Why didn’t he? At the end of Goblet of Fire he says that one or more of the steps that he took enabled him to survive. You should be wondering what he did to make sure that he did not die—I will put it that way. I don’t think that it is guessable. It may be—someone could guess it—but you should be asking yourself that question, particularly now that you know about the prophesy. I’d better stop there or I will really incriminate myself. The other question that I am surprised no one has asked me since Phoenix came out—I thought that people would—is why Dumbledore did not kill or try to kill Voldemort in the scene in the ministry. I know that I am giving a lot away to people who have not read the book. Although Dumbledore gives a kind of reason to Voldemort, it is not the real reason. When I mentioned that question to my husband—I told Neil that I was going to mention it to you—he said that it was because Dumbledore knows that there are two more books to come. As you can see, we are on the same literary wavelength. [Laughter]. That is not the answer; Dumbledore knows something slightly more profound than that. If you want to wonder about anything, I would advise you to concentrate on those two questions. That might take you a little bit further. Will Hagrid ever succeed with his plans for his brother? In a limited way, yes. Grawp is obviously the very stupidest thing that Hagrid ever brought home. In his long line of bringing home stupid things—Aragog, the Blast-Ended Skrewts—Grawp is the one that should have finished him off, but ironically it might be the one time that a monstrous something came good. By the next book, Grawp is a little bit more controllable. I think you got a clue to that at the end of Phoenix, because Grawp was starting to speak and to be a little bit more amenable to human contact. How did Dumbledore get his scar in the London Underground? You may find out one day. I am very fond of that scar. How do you think up the names of the books? Sometimes it was really easy and the title came naturally out of the plot. Sometimes it was a bit of a struggle. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets had different titles. In fact, as everyone now knows, it was once called Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, but then I removed a whole storyline that did not work at all. It gave too much information too early, so I pulled it out and it became a major part, but not the only part, of book six. There is no trace of that storyline left in Chamber of Secrets. People have been speculating that book six is a spinoff of book two, but it is not. I was really upset when Sirius was taken… No, no, we can’t. We’ll talk about it afterwards. I think we have given it away anyway, but never mind. It has recently been confirmed that Blaise Zabini is in fact a male character. Will we see more of him in the next few books? That’s correct. You do. Also, will we see more of Snape? You always see a lot of Snape, because he is a gift of a character. I hesitate to say that I love him. [Audience member: I do]. You do? This is a very worrying thing. Are you thinking about Alan Rickman or about Snape? [Laughter]. Isn’t this life, though? I make this hero—Harry, obviously—and there he is on the screen, the perfect Harry, because Dan is very much as I imagine Harry, but who does every girl under the age of 15 fall in love with? Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy. Girls, stop going for the bad guy. Go for a nice man in the first place. It took me 35 years to learn that, but I am giving you that nugget free, right now, at the beginning of your love lives. In the fifth book, Harry can see the Thestrals. Can you? Yes, I can, definitely. That is a really good question, because it enables me to clear up a point. The letters that I’ve had about the Thestrals! Everyone has said to me that Harry saw people die before could see the Thestrals. Just to clear this up once and for all, this was not a mistake. I would be the first to say that I have made mistakes in the books, but this was not a mistake. I really thought this one through. Harry did not see his parents die. He was one year old and in a cot at the time. Although you never see that scene, I wrote it and then cut it. He didn’t see it; he was too young to appreciate it. When you find out about the Thestrals, you find that you can see them only when you really understand death in a broader sense, when you really know what it means. Someone said that Harry saw Quirrell die, but that is not true. He was unconscious when Quirrell died, in Philosopher’s Stone. He did not know until he came around that Quirrell had died when Voldemort left his body. Then you have Cedric. With Cedric, fair point. Harry had just seen Cedric die when he got back into the carriages to go back to Hogsmeade station. I thought about that at the end of Goblet, because I have known from the word go what was drawing the carriages. From Chamber of Secrets, in which there are carriages drawn by invisible things, I have known what was there. I decided that it would be an odd thing to do right at the end of a book. Anyone who has suffered a bereavement knows that there is the immediate shock but that it takes a little while to appreciate fully that you will never see that person again. Until that had happened, I did not think that Harry could see the Thestrals. That means that when he goes back, he saw these spooky things. It set the tone for Phoenix, which is a much darker book. Apart from Harry, Snape is my favourite character because he is so complex and I just love him. Can he see the Thestrals, and if so, why? Also, is he a pure blood wizard? Snape’s ancestry is hinted at. He was a Death Eater, so clearly he is no Muggle born, because Muggle borns are not allowed to be Death Eaters, except in rare circumstances. You have some information about his ancestry there. He can see Thestrals, but in my imagination most of the older people at Hogwarts would be able to see them because, obviously, as you go through life you do lose people and understand what death is. But you must not forget that Snape was a Death Eater. He will have seen things that… Why do you love him? Why do people love Snape? I do not understand this. Again, it’s bad boy syndrome, isn’t it? It’s very depressing. [Laughter]. One of my best friends watched the film and she said, “You know who’s really attractive?” I said, “Who?” She said, “Lucius Malfoy!” Is there more to Dudley than meets the eye? No. [Laughter]. What you see is what you get. I am happy to say that he is definitely a character without much back story. He is just Dudley. The next book, Half Blood Prince, is the least that you see of the Dursleys. You see them quite briefly. You see them a bit more in the final book, but you don’t get a lot of Dudley in book six—very few lines. I am sorry if there are Dudley fans out there, but I think you need to look at your priorities if it is Dudley that you are looking forward to. [Laughter]. Has your original plan for the seven books changed along the way? It has changed, but only in details. In all important respects, it has stayed the same, and the ending will be exactly what I planned before 1997. The story has taken little twists and turns that I maybe didn’t expect, but we are still on track. Each book has broadly done what it was supposed to do in taking you towards the final conclusion. There is a lot of Latin in the spells in your books Do you speak Latin? Yes. At home, we converse in Latin. [Laughter]. Mainly. For light relief, we do a little Greek. My Latin is patchy, to say the least, but that doesn’t really matter because old spells are often in cod Latin—a funny mixture of weird languages creeps into spells. That is how I use it. Occasionally you will stumble across something in my Latin that is, almost accidentally, grammatically correct, but that is a rarity. In my defence, the Latin is deliberately odd. Perfect Latin is not a very magical medium, is it? Does anyone know where avada kedavra came from? It is an ancient spell in Aramaic, and it is the original of abracadabra, which means “let the thing be destroyed”. Originally, it was used to cure illness and the “thing” was the illness, but I decided to make it the “thing” as in the person standing in front of me. I take a lot of liberties with things like that. I twist them round and make them mine. Will there be a book about Harry’s Mum and Dad, about how they became friends and how they died? So it would be “Harry Potter: Episode One”. [Laughter]. No, but a lot of people have asked that. It is all George Lucas’s fault. You won’t need a prequel; by the time I am finished, you will know enough. I think it would be shamelessly exploitative to do that. I am sure that Mr Lucas is doing it only for artistic reasons, but in my case I think that by the time you have had the seven books you will know everything you need to know for the story. Has Voldemort or Tom Riddle ever cared for or loved anyone? Now, that’s a cracking question to end with—very good. No, never. [Laughter.] If he had, he couldn’t possibly be what he is. You will find out a lot more about that. It is a good question, because it leads us rather neatly to Half Blood Prince, although I repeat for the millionth time that Voldemort is not the half blood prince, which is what a lot of people thought. He is definitely, definitely not. Thank you for your excellent questions. [Applause]. Lindsey Fraser: They were absolutely brilliant questions and I think you will agree that it has been a fantastic event. Please join me in thanking J K Rowling.

Friday 10 December 2004
No News is Good News

I don’t know about you, but I got sick and tired of seeing that old Edinburgh Book Festival headline on my desktop and thought I’d change it, however dull the fresh story. So: I have nothing noteworthy to report, because I have been spending nearly all my time sitting in front of my computer writing, re-writing and taking the occasional break to bang my head off the desk in frustration or else rub my hands together in fiendish glee (I think the latter has happened once). Meanwhile, the distance between the keyboard and yours truly increases day by day as my third child races Harry’s next adventure into the world. I will soon need extendable fingers to type.

Wednesday 22 December 2004
‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ to be Published 16th July 2005

So now you know! Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will be available from July 16th 2005 (and I do hope you consider it a decent birthday present, Delleve-who-posts-at-the-Leaky-Cauldron… not that I was watching the fansites on Monday night or anything…) I have a great feeling of release in being able to talk freely about the fact that the book is finished; it has been a weighty secret to carry around, as you can imagine. But finally sharing it with you was wonderful: much more fun than wrapping presents and tidying the house before the family arrives, which is what I am supposed to be doing at the moment. P.S. Anyone interested in the ‘hidden meaning’ of the riddles and questions you had to answer before getting the message behind the door should head straight for the ‘Rumours’ section.

Tuesday 25 January 2005
JKR gives Birth to Baby Girl

Neil and I are absolutely delighted to say that our new daughter arrived on Sunday evening. Her name is Mackenzie Murray (middle names Jean Rowling) and she is ridiculously beautiful, though I suppose I might be biased. Thank you all so very much for your kind congratulations on various fansites, they mean more than you can know. I was planning to do a few more updates to this site when events overtook me on Sunday, so when I’ve got past the next feed or two, and maybe caught up on a little sleep, I shall make a few more tweaks. In the meantime, I hope you’re all having as good a week as I am!

Monday 31 January 2005
Harry Potter e-Book Scam

As many of you will know from reputable Harry Potter fan sites who reported this story, a site called (now closed) has been offering what it alleged to be an e-book version of ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ – my thanks go to the Leaky Cauldron, in particular, for promptly warning fans what was going on. You should NEVER trust any Harry Potter e-books offered for download from the internet or on P2P/file-trading networks. Setting aside the fact that these books are illegal (there are no authorised HP e-books to date), they may infect your computer with viruses, leave you vulnerable to the dangers of hacking and/or credit card fraud and may also contain content that has nothing to do with Harry Potter, to say the least. I would bet the original manuscript of ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ itself that this will not be the last attempt to con HP fans before the publication of book six on 16th July. Please, please protect yourselves, your computers and your credit cards and do not fall for these scams. The only genuine copies of Harry Potter remain the authorised traditional book or audio tapes/cassettes/CDs distributed through my publishers. Similarly, the only sources of release news you should trust are this website or official spokespeople such as representatives of my publishers or agent (details in ‘Links’ section). CONSTANT VIGILANCE!

Friday 13 May 2005
Harry Potter Children’s Press Conference Weekend

Over the weekend of publication on Saturday 16th July, I’ll be taking part in a wonderful (for me, anyway) launch event for ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ at Edinburgh Castle in Scotland. Seventy aspiring reporters will be attending the Harry Potter Children’s Press Conference Weekend on behalf of English-language newspapers across the world. On the stroke of midnight on Saturday 16th I’ll be giving the very first reading from the book at Edinburgh Castle for the cub reporters, who will each be given a signed copy of the book. The reporters will then have the weekend to read the book in a specially created Reading Room at Edinburgh Castle, before attending the Children’s Press Conference on Sunday 17th July to grill me about it. Newspapers from Britain, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Canada will run competitions from 14th May onwards to select their own reporter. Bookshops and libraries in the UK and Republic of Ireland will also be running a competition. The internet will not be neglected, either – the brains behind two of the most popular Harry Potter fansites, Melissa from the Leaky Cauldron, and Emerson from Mugglenet, will also be coming to Edinburgh to interview me for their respective readers. The results of this three-cornered chat will be posted on our separate websites. For more details on how to become one of the reporters at Edinburgh Castle on 16th July, check this weekend’s newspapers, or go to You never know, I might be meeting you, too! Good luck!

Thursday 26 May 2005
As Publication Draws Nearer…

Well, here we go again! The gossip, the non-stories, the ever-wilder speculation… Please remember that allegations of ‘leaks’ concerning deaths in ‘Half-Blood Prince’ are very easy to make. Any comment I make on such rumours would be a spoiler, so I’ll just repeat: keep those barrels of salt handy. Speaking of which… I have been alerted to the fact that I am supposed to have posted in the ‘comments’ section of a couple of different fan sites recently. I never post on fan sites and it is important that you all know this, because the last thing I would want is for any of you to be misled or otherwise manipulated by somebody posing as me online. is the only place I ever post. Lest you think I’m protesting too much, please ask yourself whether I would really want to reveal my email address on a fan site. Love you all though I do, I don’t really want to wake up tomorrow and have to download 21,956,038 new emails, all demanding the identity of the Half-Blood Prince.

Thursday 21 July 2005
Publication Weekend!

The Half-Blood Prince has left home at last and set off into the world to meet his fate and, having launched him into society, I’m now back at home with a few more great memories to add to my ever-increasing horde. The priority for publication day was taking questions from readers, because the more popular the Harry Potter books have grown, the harder it has become to communicate directly with my readership in the way that I used to love. Bloomsbury therefore suggested a press conference comprised entirely of young readers who had won the chance to be there. I loved the idea: there is nothing quite as satisfying as sitting in a room with readers whose faces you can see, answering direct questions about your method of writing, characters and plots. The midnight reading on Friday and the question and answer session on Sunday both took place in Edinburgh Castle. Nobody had told me that the cover image of ‘Half-Blood Prince’ was going to be projected onto the frontage of the castle when I arrived at half past eleven on Friday. I hadn’t expected that many people to be there when I got out of the car, either. I really must pay better attention in meetings in future, but I’m certainly not complaining, it was wonderful! Reading live on television is not for the faint-hearted. However, apart from one moment just before I walked into the Great Hall (yes, it’s really called that!), when I thought I was going to throw up, it seemed to go all right. The best part, however, was when the cameras were turned off and I was able to talk normally to the ‘cub reporters’ before giving them their signed books. On Saturday I had one-on-one interviews with fourteen-year-old Owen Jones from the UK, who had won a televised competition to interview me, and eleven-year-old Emma Coad, who had won a similar competition in Australia. Both did a fantastic job and I look forward to the day when I can boast that I was their first ever interviewee. A little later on Saturday afternoon, I was interrogated by two prominent figures in the world of on-line Pottermania, Melissa of the Leaky Cauldron and Emerson of Mugglenet (and for my account of that interview, head to Extras.) On Sunday I returned to the castle for over an hour’s question and answers with the full complement of cub reporters. Everyone was there on merit; all had won their places, or been nominated for the job because of their talent or in-depth knowledge of Harry Potter. They all did a magnificent job for the newspapers, magazines, television programmes and websites that had sent them and, not for the first time, I felt humbled by my readers.

Wednesday 7 September 2005
E-Bay Users Once Again

A recent perusal of the e-Bay stocks of ‘signed’ Harry Potter merchandise was quite alarming for the person who allegedly signed these stacks of books, posters and even, in one case, an unauthorised biography that I would never, and have never, put my signature to. As far as I could tell on the day I dropped in, only one of the signatures on offer appeared genuine. There seem to be a lot of people out there trying to con Harry Potter fans. The same is true in respect to the huge number of unauthorised Harry Potter e-Books and audio digital files that users of e-Bay have offered for sale to Harry Potter fans. E-Bay seem unable to control or to take preventative steps to avoid users of their site offering forged Harry Potter merchandise for sale to innocent fans who might wish to purchase such goods; they also continue to refuse to accept any responsibility for allowing forged Harry Potter merchandise to be offered for sale on their site (while, of course, profit is made from the sale of said merchandise). So it remains for me to warn you personally: ‘bonded certificates of authenticity’ do not guarantee that I have ever been on the same continent of the book in question, let alone signed it. As far as I can tell from watching the ‘signed’ Harry Potter merchandise on e-Bay, for every (as far as I can tell) genuine signature there are six to ten fakes. Therefore, I am now advising Harry Potter fans in search of rare and/or signed editions that it is much safer to buy from reputable / authorised book dealers rather than e-Bay and other similar auction houses. I would be delighted if the online community of Harry Potter fans canvassed e-Bay directly, asking that they be protected against this exploitation; you might succeed where I have so far failed.

Wednesday 7 September 2005
Harry Potter Goes Digital

Today sees a new Harry Potter launch: audio digital files are now available through Apple iTunes in the US, Europe and Japan (English language)! Many Harry Potter fans have been keen for digital access for a while, but the deciding factor for me in authorising this new version is that it will help combat the growing incidents of piracy in this area. There have been a number of incidents where fans have stumbled upon unauthorised files believing them to be genuine and, quite apart from the fact that they are illegal, the Harry Potter content of these can bear very little resemblance to anything I’ve ever written!

Monday 12 September 2005
Ebay Latest

Ebay has responded to this news item in the press. On the one hand, they have said that they rely on consumers to police their site. On the other, a spokesman called Hani Durzi says that ‘it is the responsibility of the copyright owner to report any listings that violate their rights.’ Ebay might be interested to learn that most Harry Potter fans are children, whose ability to verify the authenticity of signatures is not to be entirely trusted. Meanwhile Hani Durzi seems unaware that I have advised Ebay repeatedly, through my legal representative, that many signatures for sale on their site appear to be fake, but have yet to see any reduction in the number of forgeries on offer. The same is true in respect to other pirate Harry Potter merchandise offered for sale by Ebay users, such as e-Books where we have pointed out to Ebay that 100% of the items being offered for sale are fake. What I am calling for is prevention rather than cure (which has had limited effect here in any event). After all, reputable booksellers and auction houses take steps to ensure that signatures are genuine BEFORE they put them up for sale. The current situation has Ebay profiting from the Ebay users relentless scamming of Harry Potter fans while, in effect, telling them that they have no-one but themselves – or me – to blame.

Wednesday 25 January 2006
Launch of the Children’s High Level Group

On the 25th and 26th of this month I will be in Bucharest, the capital of Romania, to help launch the Children’s High Level Group. This will be a brief ‘fact-finding’ trip during which I will also help raise funds for the Group at a charity dinner. In 2003 I read an article in the British Sunday Times about the use of ‘cage beds’ in psychiatric institutions in the Czech Republic. The article alleged that children as young as two were being kept in these beds, without physical contact or comfort, for the majority of the day and night. The photograph that accompanied the article – of a very young boy staring through wire mesh at the camera – is still branded on my memory; in fact, it was so disturbing that when my eyes first fell on it my immediate instinct was to turn the page quickly so as not to have to look at it. However, immediately ashamed of my cowardly impulse, I smoothed the newspaper out again and read the article from beginning to end, swearing that if the text matched the picture in horror, I would try and ‘do something’ about the issue. Needless to say, the story detailing the plight of disabled and mentally handicapped children locked in cages in ‘care homes’ made dreadful reading. So I started writing letters, firstly to all the Scottish MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) and then to the Czech Ambassador, Czech Prime Minister and Czech President. This flurry of epistolary activity led me to a meeting with Baroness Emma Nicholson, who has been working on similar issues in Romania for many years, resulting in substantial improvements in child welfare and protection in that country. She asked me to join the Children’s High Level Group, which will work on a much wider scale to enforce children’s rights as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international standards in force. The social problems that lead to the placing of children in institutions are complex and will not be resolved quickly; however, that is a good reason for making a start as soon as possible. There is now widespread agreement among child health experts that irreparable, long-term damage is caused to young children who are institutionalised without a parent. The Children’s High Level Group will share the knowledge and experience accumulated in recent years in the field of the protection of child rights and will work with other international bodies to bring about meaningful change for as many institutionalised children as possible. PS: But none of this means that I have given up writing book seven… just in case you were wondering!

Wednesday 10 May 2006
JKR to read in New York with John Irving and Stephen King

On the nights of the 1st and 2nd August 2006 I will be reading at Radio City Hall in New York, alongside John Irving and Stephen King, in “AN EVENING WITH HARRY, CARRIE AND GARP”. All proceeds from the event will go to The Haven Foundation (an organization that helps performing artists whose accidents or illnesses have left them uninsured and unable to work) and Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (an international independent medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural or man-made disasters, or exclusion from health care in more than 70 countries). Tickets ranging from $12.50 to $100 will be available through Ticketmaster from May 12, 2006 at 10 a.m (which is 3 p.m. in the UK). Telephone numbers: 212-307-7171 (New York City) 212-307-1000 (MSG/RCMH hotline) 201-507-8900 (NJ) 845-454-3388 (Westchester) 631-888-9000 (Long Island) 203-368-1000 (Connecticut) (Limit 8 tickets per purchase) Pairs of prime orchestra seats will also be available via a Ticketmaster auction online. A limited number of “Family Packages” which will include 4 premium orchestra seats and a set of three signed books – one from each author – will also be on sale at that time for $1,000. Anyone who purchases a ticket will have the opportunity to submit a question for the authors via email. This is the first reading I’ve done in America since 2000, so I’m looking forward to it very much and hope to see some regular visitors there!

Wednesday 13 September 2006
Book 7 Update

Now that I’m back from New York, the only real news is that I’m continuing to work hard on the book. I’ve done quite a lot, and I’m really enjoying it, though every now and then I look up and realise that it’s THE LAST ONE. You might think I’d have got used to that idea during the sixteen years I’ve been planning seven books, but it still keeps hitting me… no more Harry after this… and then I bury myself in book seven again and tell myself I’ve still got plenty to write. The heightened security restrictions on the airlines in August made the journey back from New York interesting, as I refused to be parted from the manuscript of book seven (a large part of it is handwritten, and there was no copy of anything I had done while in the US). They let me take it on, thankfully, bound up in elastic bands. I don’t know what I would have done if they hadn’t; sailed home, probably. I am currently trying to decide between two possible titles. I was quite happy with one of them until the other one struck me while I was taking a shower in New York. They would both be appropriate, so I think I’ll have to wait until I’m further into the book to decide which one works best.

Friday 29 September 2006
eBay – the Usual!

Yes, we’ve been here before, but having strolled over to eBay (come on, I’ve got to have a break sometimes) I note that the forgers aren’t getting any better at my signature. Frankly, some of them are barely trying. So please bear in mind that these ‘certificates of authenticity’ are not worth the paper they are written on.

Friday 29 September 2006
Banned Books Week

Once again, the Harry Potter books feature on this year’s list of most-banned books. As this puts me in the company of Harper Lee, Mark Twain, J. D. Salinger, William Golding, John Steinbeck and other writers I revere, I have always taken my annual inclusion on the list as a great honour. “Every burned book enlightens the world.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday 1 February 2007
Publication Date for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will be published on Saturday 21st July 2007 at 00:01 BST in the UK and at 00:01 in the USA. It will also be released at 00:01 BST on Saturday 21st July in other English speaking countries around the world.

Wednesday 23 May 2007
The Moonlight Signing

On July 21st 2007, I shall be doing a mammoth signing through the night! 1700 Harry Potter fans will have the opportunity of having their copy of ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ signed by me at the Natural History Museum in London. They will receive a free copy of the seventh Harry Potter book, courtesy of Bloomsbury, my UK publishers. 500 of these fans will also be randomly selected to hear me read from the book at midnight. To receive tickets for this event, you will need to enter a ballot via the following websites: (for UK and Ireland residents) and (for the US). Other English-speaking publishers may also be allotted tickets; keep an eye on their websites. It has been a long time since I’ve done a signing and had the chance to speak to readers individually, so I’m delighted that we are launching the book in this way. It will be wonderful for me to get the chance to speak to people who have already read a few chapters while in the queue! Good luck if you’re applying for tickets, and if you’re successful, I’ll see you shortly after midnight on July 21st!

Thursday 14 June 2007
The Open Book Tour, October 2007

In October I will be touring the USA for the first time since 2000. The Tour will include four events, three to be held for schoolchildren in Los Angeles, New Orleans and New York City and one event in New York City for any U.S. Harry Potter fan who wins a ticket through a sweepstakes to be held by Scholastic, my US publishers. At each event, I will read from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final book in the Harry Potter series, answer questions about the entire series, and sign copies of the latest book. I will be appearing at the Los Angeles Kodak Theater on Monday, October 15th; in New Orleans at the Ernest N. Morial Auditorium at the Convention Center on Thursday, October 18th; and at New York’s Carnegie Hall on Friday, October 19th. In September, at the beginning of the 2007/2008 school year, Scholastic will select schools in each of the three cities to send students to the events. Each selected school will then be given a Sorting Hat to place in their school where they will have their own random drawing of students and classes to attend the events. In addition to these three events for schoolchildren, there will be an event on the evening of October 19, 2007 in New York City, open to fans of all ages. One thousand readers will be selected in a sweepstakes and will receive a pair of tickets to the event at Carnegie Hall on Friday October 19 at 7 p.m. Scholastic will launch the J.K. Rowling and the Open Book Tour Sweepstakes on July 30, 2007. Visit beginning July 30 for information on how to enter and complete rules.

Wednesday 31 October 2007
Companion Books

It’s common knowledge that I love genuine Harry Potter fansites, which is why I created my own award to recognise their creativity and ingenuity. It’s also old news that I hope one day to write the definitive Harry Potter encyclopedia, which will include all the material that never made it into the novels, and that I will give the royalties from this book to charity. I cannot, therefore, approve of “companion books” or “encyclopedias” that seek to pre-empt my definitive Potter reference book for their authors’ own personal gain. The losers in such a situation would be the charities, that I hope, eventually, to benefit.

Wednesday 31 October 2007
Companion Books

As is now widely known, a complaint has been filed in the name of Warner Bros and myself against the publisher of a proposed Lexicon, written by Steven VanderArk. This decision was reached, on my part, with immense sadness and disappointment, and only because direct appeals for a reasonable solution failed. I never dreamed, in the light of our previous good relations – including giving the Lexicon a Fansite Award – that this situation would ever arise. From what I understand, the proposed book is not criticism or review of Harry Potter’s world, which would be entirely legitimate – neither I nor anybody connected with Harry Potter has ever tried to prevent such works being published. It is, we believe, a print version of the website, except now the information that was freely available to everybody is to become a commercial enterprise. It is not reasonable, or legal, for anybody, fan or otherwise, to take an author’s hard work, re-organize their characters and plots, and sell them for their own commercial gain. However much an individual claims to love somebody else’s work, it does not become theirs to sell.

Thursday 1 November 2007
Auction of “The Tales of Beedle the Bard”

When it came to finding “thank you” presents for the people who have been most closely involved with Harry Potter over the years, nothing shop-bought seemed personal enough. I therefore decided to hand-write a limited number of copies of “The Tales of Beedle the Bard”. As this idea came to me only after I had finished writing “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, I was left with the task of writing stories for the three titles Ron mentions in that book: “The Fountain of Fair Fortune”, “The Wizard and the Hopping Pot,” and “Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump” (and if anyone thinks it was easy coming up with a tale called “Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump,” let me disabuse them here.) I’ve added a new story (“The Warlock’s Hairy Heart”) and completed the collection with the only fable already told, “The Tale of the Three Brothers”. There were really six people I wanted to honour – the real insiders – but it had to be seven copies, not six. I have therefore decided to auction the seventh book for The Children’s Voice, a campaign run by the Children’s High Level Group, the charity I co-founded to campaign for the rights of institutionalised children. Each of the seven copies of “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” has a different dedication; all are leather-bound and embellished with silver and different semi-precious stones. The seventh book (the Moonstone edition) will be auctioned at Sotheby’s in London on December 13th 2007. The book will be on display to the public for a short period before the sale, and catalogues will be sold, all profits going to the Children’s Voice.

Friday 9 November 2007
Lexicon Continued

As you may have read, on 8 November, 2007 a judge in New York granted an order against RDR Books in respect to the proposed book The Harry Potter Lexicon, such order applying to any proposed licensing of the book worldwide. Judge Patterson has imposed a restraining order on the publishers of the Lexicon, which will remain in place until at least February 2008. This means that the book can not be completed, published or marketed until the court has had time to decide whether it would break the law if published in its present form. I take no pleasure in the fact that publication has been prevented for the present. On the contrary, I feel massively disappointed that this matter had to come to court at all. Despite repeated requests, the publishers have refused to even countenance making any changes to the book to ensure that it does not infringe my rights. Unless their position changes, we will all return to court next year. Given my past good relations with the Lexicon fansite, I can only feel sad and disillusioned that this is where we have ended up.

Friday 7 December 2007
J.K.Rowling – A Year In The Life

For the last 12 months I have been filmed for a documentary by James Runcie, who apart from making films is also a fellow novelist. The documentary follows my life over the last year of writing Harry Potter and includes footage of me working on ‘Deathly Hallows’, on tour, at the launch and much more. The documentary will be shown in the UK on Sunday 30th December 2007, on ITV.

Friday 21 December 2007
Auction of ‘the Tales of Beedle the Bard’

As you may already know, the seventh copy of ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’ raised a staggering £1.95 million at auction, which will be donated to the Children’s Voice campaign (see Links). It is fortunate that nobody was filming my reaction while the bids climbed higher and higher. Fiddy, Angela, Christine and I were sitting around Fiddy’s laptop in our office (the aforementioned being my PA and the invaluable assistants who deal with the postbag), watching a live link to Sotheby’s. Once the amount hit a million, I kept swearing loudly with every successive bid, and when we reached the final amount, the air turned a lovely shade of blue… I am delighted that Amazon bought the book, and would like to thank them for their huge generosity, which will help the Children’s Voice reach many, many more institutionalised children. I am also thrilled to think that the moonstone Beedle will not be mouldering alone in a vault, but will be setting off on a tour of children’s libraries. Taken all in all, I could not have wished for a better outcome!

Thursday 29 May 2008
Waterstones Charity Auction

A few months ago a number of authors were invited to handwrite cards for auction by Waterstones, on June 10, all proceeds to go to English PEN, the writers’ association, and the Dyslexia Action. After playing around with a number of different ideas I decided to write a short (for me!) excerpt from a prequel to the Potter series. It is about 800 words long and the action takes place around 3 years before Harry is born. Although I did feel a bit like a relapsing addict as I sat down to write – the words poured from my pen with frightening ease – I am NOT working on a prequel. Indeed, I’ve written that clearly at the bottom of the card itself. I just thought that this was the best way to make money for two extremely worthwhile charities. The good news for Potter fans who will not be able to bid at the auction is that you will be able to read the short story (along with amazing contributions from Doris Lessing, Margaret Atwood, Tom Stoppard, Irvine Welsh, Sebastian Faulks, Axel Scheffler, Lauren Child, Nick Hornby, Neil Gaiman, Lisa Appignanesi, Richard Ford, and Michael Rosen) by purchasing a book of facsimiles, which will be available in August. The proceeds from this book, too, will go to the charities.

Thursday 31 July 2008
The Children’s High Level Group to publish “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” on 4th December 2008

There was understandable disappointment among Harry Potter fans when only one copy of “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” was offered to the public last December. I am therefore delighted to announce that, thanks to the generous support of Bloomsbury, Scholastic and Amazon (who bought the handwritten copy at auction) – and with the blessing of the wonderful people who own the other six original books – “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” will now be widely available to all Harry Potter fans. Royalties will be donated to the Children’s High Level Group, to benefit institutionalised children in desperate need of a voice. The new edition will include the Tales themselves, translated from the original runes by Hermione Granger, and with illustrations by me, but also notes by Professor Albus Dumbledore, which appear by generous permission of the Hogwarts Headmasters’ Archive.’ ‘Dumbledore’s commentary on the Tales, which was discovered among his papers after his death, includes some historical notes, personal reminiscences, and insights into that most mysterious branch of magic: wandlore. I very much hope that readers coming to these classic wizarding fables for the first time will find his commentary both entertaining and helpful.

Tuesday 28 October 2008
Launch of ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’

As some of you will already know, I will be helping to launch ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’ with a Beedle tea party at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh on 4th December. I’m delighted that the book will now be available to everyone, with the net proceeds of sales going to the Children’s High Level Group, the charity I helped found which works with vulnerable children across Eastern Europe. I’m afraid we did have to limit the attendance to the launch, so it will be for 8-11 year-olds from primary schools in the Edinburgh area, who will be chosen by a random ballot run by the local newspaper. Also, some tickets are available via competitions being run by Scholastic, Bloomsbury and Amazon – see their websites for details. One of the seven original handwritten copies of ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’, kindly loaned by my first editor Barry Cunningham, will be going on show for a month at the National Library of Scotland from 5th December to 4th January 2009, so anyone visiting Edinburgh will be able to see it. Hundreds of thousands of vulnerable children in Eastern Europe are living in appalling conditions in large, residential institutions. Contrary to popular belief, fewer than 4% of them are orphans, but are in care because they are considered disabled or their families are poor or from ethnic minorities. The Children’s High Level Group is publishing ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’, in collaboration with my English language publishers Bloomsbury and Scholastic, my foreign publishers throughout the world and also the online bookseller Amazon, who are producing a Special Limited Edition version, all of them to raise money to fund our work in helping these children out of institutions and in to loving families or community care homes. I hope that ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’ will not only be a welcome Christmas present to Harry Potter fans, but an opportunity to give these abandoned children a voice. See my links page for CHLG.

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