J.K. Rowling on “Woman’s Hour” as a guest editor today!

UPDATE: It looks like the BBC site is allowing listeners in the US to stream the full radio episode as well. You can listen here.

J.K. Rowling’s role as guest editor and appearance on the hour-long Woman’s Hour aired today on BBC Radio 4. In the lead-up to the program, a series of news articles have revealed more about Jo’s fondness for rugby and her concern about her appearance following media comments.

The show was the first in a series that is airing this week, which sees a group of five remarkable female figures take over and guest edit the show. Jo was the first of these special editors, and the show features four topics close to her heart. Jo is interviewed by host Jane Garvey.

The first issue that Jo chose to discuss was multiple sclerosis (MS). Jo spoke about her late mother, Anne Rowling, and the way that she remembers her, particuarly for her infectious laugh. She said that her mother’s diagnosis “definitely changed the dynamic of the family”, with the introduction of guilt, worry, and anxiety.

Jo further said that her mother was a passionate reader, and she believes that she would have thought that being a writer was “a very valuable thing.” Although her mother knew that she was writing, she wishes that she hadn’t been so secretive about it and regrets that her mother did not see any of her success.

MS is a disease that affects more women than men and is particuarly common in Scotland, so it is for this reason that she is particularly proud of the Anne Rowling Clinic in Scotland, which she helped fund.

The second topic that Jo discussed was Scottish rugby. During the rugby World Cup, Jo tweeted about wizard support for rugby, and in the interview, Jo said that she used to be a soccer fan. It was not until she “married a Scot that she converted to rugby.” Jo also talks about attending rugby games and women’s rugby in Scotland.

Thirdly, Jo talked about her charity work with Lumos and children in care institutions. She said that it was in 2004 that she first read about the situation:

I was pregnant at the time with my third child and saw a really shocking photograph of a little boy who appeared to be in a cage […] I couldn’t bear the sight of it.

She further commented that,

I’m in a very privileged position and I’m aware of that and I want to use my power for good.

The fourth and final topic that Jo picked was shoes and most particularly, “why women are so obsessed with this particular item of clothing” and “what is the power and myth of the shoe?

Jo also revealed that “I’m not a sensible flats girl.”

In an extra clip available on the website, Jo also reflects on the “Benefits of Failure” speech she gave six years ago at Harvard. When considering what to say in the speech, Jo said she thought about

what do I really wish someone had told me at 21 […] it was that above anything else. It is impossible to live without failing.

Looking back at herself as a teenager, Jo said that she wishes she’d “given myself a break” and advises teens to “have a try and be kind to yourself.” The best advice she says is to “be who you are.”

Jo also said that she has a

compulsion to make things better [in the world]… but also to sit in my room with my books,

and this is reflected in a quote painted on her wall.

To hear what Jo had to say herself, check out the interview online and listen to it in full. If you’re in the UK, you can listen to the full show online here, as well as listening to a few extended interview clips and find out more about what Jo discussed. Hopefully, the program will be available in the US soon!

Did you get a chance to listen to the show? What did you think of what Jo had to say? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.