The J.K. Rowling Index

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Contribution: The Birthday Book

Index ID: TBB — Publication date: October 1st, 2008

Note: This is an edited extract from The Birthday Book, published by Jonathan Cape to mark the 60th birthday of the Prince of Wales.

I admit that, at first glance, the extract I’ve chosen for The Birthday Book might not seem particularly celebratory, given that it has for its subject my hero walking to what he believes will be certain death. But when Harry takes his last, long walk into the heart of the Dark Forest, he is choosing to accept a burden that fell on him when still a tiny child, in spite of the fact that he never sought the role for which he has been cast, never wanted the scar with which he has been marked. As his mentor, Albus Dumbledore, has tried to make clear to Harry, he could have refused to follow the path marked out for him. In spite of the weight of opinion and expectation that singles him out as the “Chosen One”, it is Harry’s own will that takes him into the Forest to meet Voldemort, prepared to suffer the fate that he escaped sixteen years before.

The destinies of wizards and princes might seem more certain than those carved out for the rest of us, yet we all have to choose the manner in which we meet life: whether to live up (or down) to the expectations placed upon us; whether to act selfishly, or for the common good; whether to steer the course of our lives ourselves, or to allow ourselves to be buffeted around by chance and circumstance. Birthdays are often moments for reflection, moments when we pause, look around, and take stock of where we are; children gleefully contemplate how far they have come, whereas adults look forwards into the trees, wondering how much further they have to go. This extract from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is my favourite part of the seventh book; it might even be my favourite part of the entire series, and in it, Harry demonstrates his truly heroic nature, because he overcomes his own terror to protect the people he loves from death, and the whole of his society from tyranny.

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Rumours (Desktop Website)

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

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

Seventeen is much too young to enter politics.

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

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

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

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

Professor Lupin has a twin

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

Neville Longbottom is Peter Pettigrew’s son

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

Crookshanks is an Animagus

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

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

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

Lily Potter Was Once a Death Eater

How dare you?!

Lily Potter is still alive

No, afraid not.

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

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

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

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

The mysterious ‘Icicle’

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s definitely me.

Book Six is called ‘The Toenail of Icklibõgg’

Well, if you believed the ‘Storgé’ one…

Book Six is called ‘The Pillar of Storgé’

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

Gideon and Fabian Prewett were Molly Weasley’s brothers

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

The Order of the Phoenix communicates using chocolate frog cards

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

The Lestranges were sent after Neville to kill him

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

Luna and Neville will hook up in HP&THBP

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

Harry stands trial again in HP&THBP

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

‘Half-Blood Prince’ will have 38 chapters

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

The painting on the wall of the study Means Something

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

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

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

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

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

Colin and Dennis Creevey will be the new Gryffindor Beaters

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

Nicolas Flamel is going to come to Hogwarts to teach potions

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

Dumbledore is really Ron/Harry ‘from the future’

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

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

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

Luna is Snape’s daughter

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

The Sorting Hat is a Horcrux

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

Lupin will come back as DADA teacher

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

Harry is a Metamorphmagus

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

Mrs. Norris is an unregistered Animagus

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

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

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

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

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

Aunt Petunia will start exhibiting magical tendencies

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

Leaky Mug: the wedding of Melissa Anelli and Emerson Spartz

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

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

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

Stubby Boardman is Regulus Black

No, he isn’t. Nice idea, though.

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

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

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

No, he wasn’t.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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