Joanne “Jo” Rowling, under the pen name J.K. Rowling, is the author of the Harry Potter series. She has won countless awards, and her books have sold more than 400 million copies. Harry Potter is the best-selling book series in history, and the series of films based on the books has become the highest-grossing film series in history. She also wrote the adult novel The Casual Vacancy and is currently penning the Cormoran Strike series under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.
She has led a “rags to riches” life story, going from living on state benefits to multi-millionaire status within five years. TIME magazine named her a runner-up for its 2007 Person of the Year, noting the social, moral, and political inspiration she has given her fans. In October 2010, Rowling was named the “Most Influential Woman in Britain” by leading magazine editors. She is a well-known philanthropist, supporting many different charities, including several of her own. The author currently resides in Scotland with her husband and three children.
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Joanne “Jo” Rowling’s story began July 31, 1965, at Yate General Hospital in England. She is the eldest child of Peter and Anne Rowling, having one younger sister, Dianne. After Dianne’s birth, the family moved to Winterbourne, Bristol. They later moved to Chepstow, Gwent, where Rowling attended Wyedean Comprehensive.
Rowling went on to study at Exeter University, where she earned a BA in French and Classics, spending one year of study in Paris.
After graduating, Rowling moved to London, working as a researcher for Amnesty International. While on a delayed train from Manchester to London, Rowling conceived the idea for a book about a young boy, who happened to be a wizard, and his adventures at wizarding school.
In 1990, Rowling’s mother, Anne, lost her battle with multiple sclerosis, which she had been fighting for a decade.
Rowling left England, moving to Porto, Portugal, to teach English as a foreign language. She married in October of 1992 and gave birth to her first child, Jessica, in July of 1993. With the end of her marriage, Rowling and Jessica returned to the UK, settling in Edinburgh, where, in 1997, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was first published by Bloomsbury.
In order to appeal to an audience of young boys, the publisher wanted to use initials rather than her clearly female first name. Having no middle name of her own, Rowling took the name of her paternal grandmother, Kathleen, and became the author of the Harry Potter series.
On December 26, 2001, Rowling was married to Dr. Neil Murray, and in March of 2003, the couple’s first child together, David, was born. Their second child together, Mackenzie, was born in January of 2005.
Rowling currently resides in Edinburgh with her husband and three children.
J.K. Rowling has received many honors and awards, including:
- Author of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Award, British Book Awards, 1999 and 2008
- Booksellers Association Author of the Year, 1998 and 1999
- Order of the British Empire (OBE), 2001
- WH Smith Fiction Award, 2004
- Prince of Asturias Award for Concord, Spain, 2003
- Blue Peter Gold Badge, 2007
- Commencement speaker, Harvard University, USA, 2008
- The Edinburgh Award, 2008
- James Joyce Award, University College Dublin, 2008
- South Bank Show Award for Outstanding Achievement, 2008
- Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur: France, 2009
- Hans Christian Andersen Award, Denmark, 2010
- Honorary Degrees from the University of Exeter, University of St Andrews, Napier University, University of Edinburgh, Dartmouth College USA, Harvard University USA, and University of Aberdeen
Inspired by an article revealing the traumatizing treatment of children in Czech institutions, Rowling established the Children’s High Level Group in 2005. Five years later, the charity transformed into Lumos.
Today, Lumos is focused on eradicating and transforming the systematic institutionalization of children across Europe, with projects currently taking place in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Moldova, and Montenegro. The charity envisions a world where children aren’t placed in large, uncaring institutions but raised in safe and loving environments.
For more details on Lumos as a charity, and information of how you can get involved, head over to our charity page.
In 2010, J.K. Rowling made a substantial donation for the foundation of a new clinic at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. In addition to conducting major research into neuro-regeneration, the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic will support patients with multiple sclerosis and other neurodegenerative diseases. The facility is named after Rowling’s mother, who died of multiple sclerosis aged 45, and was officially opened by HRH The Princess Royal in October 2013.
For seven years, J.K. Rowling was an Ambassador of One Parent Families, now called Gingerbread, a charity working with lone parents and their children. In 2007, J.K. Rowling took an honorary position as President of the charity.
J.K. Rowling supports a number of charities and causes through her charitable trust, Volant. The trust has two broad areas of funding: research into the causes, treatment, and possible cures of multiple sclerosis, which is channeled entirely via the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic; and charities and projects which alleviate social deprivation at home or abroad, with a particular emphasis on women’s and children’s issues.
As a postgraduate, J.K. Rowling worked at the London office of Amnesty International, doing research into human rights abuses in Francophone Africa.
J.K. Rowling was Patron of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Scotland for nine years. Her support included planning and hosting fundraising events, lobbying, and raising awareness of the disease, as well as contributing significant funds for research in Scotland. She stepped down as Patron of the charity in 2009 but continues to fund MS research directly through the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic.
J.K. Rowling has supported Comic Relief, for which she has written two short books which appear as the titles of Harry Potter’s school books with the novels; The Maggie’s Centres for Cancer Care, of which she was a Patron for several years; and Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, in aid of which she performed in an event with authors Stephen King and John Irving in New York in 2006, and contributed to a book in aid of the charity, Dear Me: More Letters to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self, in 2011.
You can write to J.K. Rowling at the following address:
C/O Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
50 Bedford Square
London WC1B 3DP
J.K. Rowling very rarely does interviews or public speaking, and when she does they are usually around a new project or charitable commitment. Please note that she does not undertake fee-paying public speaking engagements. Because of the huge volume of requests coming in, J.K. Rowling also regrets she is unable to:
- Answer individual questions or comment on specific topics from readers or read or comment on writing, stories, ideas, or artwork.
- Sign copies of the Harry Potter books for individuals.
- Send out autographs or signed photographs.
- Respond to individual requests for financial assistance.
The Blair Partnership represents J.K. Rowling internationally and across all media. Please direct any queries to email@example.com, and a member of the team will be in touch directly.
J.K. Rowling updated her website on December 20, 2016, including a resurrection of her wonderfully cluttered desk.
1. Why couldn’t Newt just Apparate to the USA? Why did he go by boat?
Apparition becomes increasingly risky over long distances. As with most magic, much depends on the skill of the spell-caster: Apparition requires knowledge of the terrain to which one is moving, or the ability to visualise it clearly. Cross-continental Apparition would almost certainly result in severe injury or death.
Moreover, the beasts in Newt’s case had varying magical natures. Some could have Apparated with him, but others could not.
2. Why did Newt go in through No-Maj customs?
He was transporting magical creatures at a time when this was illegal. No-Majs were far easier to fool than the wizarding checkpoint would have been.
3. Why couldn’t Newt use Accio to retrieve all his beasts?
Accio only works on inanimate objects. While people or creatures may be indirectly moved by Accio-ing objects that they are wearing or holding, this carries all kinds of risks because of the likelihood of injury to the person or beast attached to an object travelling at close to the speed of light.
4. Why isn’t Veritaserum used in interrogations?
It is, but skilled wizards can avoid its effects by using antidotes and charms. A gifted Occlumens could also resist Veritaserum.
5. Why did [R]evelio undo the effects of Polyjuice Potion?
It didn’t. Grindelwald’s Transfiguration surpasses that of most wizards, so he used a spell, not a potion, to take on the appearance of Percival Graves.
6. Why didn’t Harry Potter develop an Obscurus?
An Obscurus is developed under very specific conditions: trauma associated with the use of magic, internalized hatred of one’s own magic and a conscious attempt to suppress it.
The Dursleys were too frightened of magic ever to acknowledge its existence to Harry. While Vernon and Petunia had a confused hope that if they were nasty enough to Harry his strange abilities might somehow evaporate, they never taught him to be ashamed or afraid of magic. Even when he was scolded for ‘making things happen’, he didn’t make any attempt to suppress his true nature, nor did he ever imagine that he had the power to do so.
And finally, an oldie but a perennial favourite…
7. Why wasn’t the Horcrux inside Harry destroyed when he was bitten by the Basilisk in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets?
A Horcrux can only be destroyed if its container is damaged beyond repair. Harry was healed by Fawkes. Had he died, the Horcrux would indeed have been destroyed.
PS I’m being asked all kinds of excellent questions about Fantastic Beasts that I can’t answer right now, because the answers would give away too much about future plots. If your burning question isn’t here, you are probably safe to assume that it will be answered in the sequels!
Once upon a time, JKR.com was a cosy corner of cyberspace where I could share things I was writing, answer readers’ questions, debunk baseless press stories and be as serious or as frivolous as I fancied on any given day. However, when I finished writing the Potter books, my website fell into disuse. I spent a few years writing, not publishing, and enjoying the quiet. A few years ago I resurrected JKR.com, but I didn’t feel the same connection to the new design and it showed, because I hardly ever wrote anything for it.
So I decided to start over. I wanted to bring my website back to what it used to be: something real and personal. This is a faithful representation of my writing desk, except that I haven’t put on the bits of stale popcorn and biscuit crumbs that usually litter the surface. Everything looks a bit tidier and cleaner than it really is, but after all, it’s only polite to make an effort for guests. The various objects littered around really do live in my writing room; some of them have sentimental value, some are practical and others have found their way in via friends and family members.
I write in a room I built in my garden, at a wooden table just like this, with a view of lawn and trees. Family members have to decide whether they’re prepared to make the effort to put on shoes or find an umbrella to come and find me, which makes it the perfect distance from the house: I’m neither accessible enough to be bothered every time a Nintendo DS gets mislaid, nor so inaccessible that I can’t be inside the house and tending to a broken leg within thirty seconds.
(I’m married to a doctor, so yes, I accept that he might be the more logical choice to deal with the broken leg, but Neil might be at work when this happens. Or maybe it’s his leg that’s broken. All right, I accept this isn’t entirely rational: I’m a worrier.)
You’ll find my Twitter feed on here, because Twitter has become for me a nice way of interacting with readers in the website-free years. It also slakes my thirst for pictures of dogs and otters, political arguments and random connections with strangers, which are hard to come by when your profession demands that you sit alone in a room for many hours a day.
I haven’t forgotten the debunking function that I found so useful on my old website, though you might not find the button right away. You’ll also find links to some of the causes and charities I support, including my own charity Lumos, and my charitable trust, Volant.
2016 has been one of the busiest professional years of my life. I didn’t plan for the stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and the movie Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them to come out in the same year, but that’s what ended up happening, with the result that 2016 meant an almost total re-immersion in the wizarding world. I’ve been absolutely delighted with the reception of both pieces: the stakes are always very high when you return to a well-loved creation, and after almost a decade of refusing to do spin-offs or remakes, I feel overwhelming relief that both long-time fans and newcomers have enjoyed what we’ve done. Pottermore.com, the digital hub for the wizarding world, does a great job catering for anyone who wants to dig deeper into that world.
Robert Galbraith, my crime writing alter-ego, remains active, and is currently working on his fourth. There’s no publication date as yet, given how busy 2016 has been, but I’m making steady progress. Cormoran Strike fans will be glad to know that filming has already started on the TV adaptation, starring Tom Burke as Cormoran and Holliday Grainger as Robin Ellacott.
With four more Beasts movies to come, I decided my Christmas gift to wizard-lovers should be to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the plot of the new franchise. There’s also a bonus FAQ, an oldie about Chamber of Secrets that I’ve been asked at least once a week for nine years.
I hope you enjoy your visit and if I don’t see you again before the end of December, I wish you a very happy new year!
J.K. Rowling’s website during 2011–2016 featured a timeline of her achievements and basic information on her published works, upcoming events, and charities.
Rowling has posted a list of frequently asked questions on the current version of her website.
Will you sign my book?
Every one of my 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. 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 unsigned to the sender.
Is my signed book authentic?
Due to the very high demand for signed books by J.K. Rowling, these are now limited to selected charities and special circumstances. Unfortunately there are unscrupulous people out there, who are only too ready to step into the breach and exploit Harry Potter fans, so we would like to add a note of caution. As there has been an unfortunate increase in the number of forged signatures over the last few years, books genuinely signed by J.K. Rowling since the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 2007, including her new novel The Casual Vacancy, now carry a hologram of authenticity. Any other item claiming authenticity, such as certificates, accompanying a signed book is not genuine or valid. If you are planning on purchasing a signed book which was published prior to 2007, please be careful, as there is no guarantee the signature is genuine. We are unable to verify signatures, but if you would like to have a signature checked we recommend contacting the following Antiquarian Bookseller, who is a respected authority on J.K. Rowling signatures: Jon Gilbert of Adrian Harrington Books. Address: Adrian Harrington Books, 54 Kensington Church Street, Kensington, London W8 4DB. Tel: 0207 937 1465; Fax: 0207 368 0912. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you believe in fate?
No, I believe in hard work and luck and that the first often leads to the second.
Which Hogwarts house would you be in?
Gryffindor, I hope. I value courage beyond almost anything.
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.
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 by Elizabeth Goudge, 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.
Where can I write you?
My publishers will forward letters. I’m afraid, however, that due to the enormous size of my weekly postbag, I’m not able to answer individual questions or comment on your stories or ideas, nor am I able to sign autographs or photographs (see ‘giving up writing, eating or sleeping’ above). Sorry!
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 (I have to keep her happy in case she TELLS).
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!!), but to be very honest, I don’t think I have room for any more. My children 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.
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 is your favorite thing that you have bought with your earnings?
My favorite 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.
How about the Harry Potter encyclopedia?
I have been enjoying sharing information about Harry’s world on Pottermore for free and don’t have any firm plans to publish it in book form.
Will there ever be another Harry Potter novel?
I have always refused to say ‘never’ to this question because I think it would be foolish to rule out something I might want to do in a few years’ time. However, I have no immediate plans to write another Harry Potter novel, and I do think that I have rounded off Harry’s story in the seven published books.
JKRowling.com was a hit since the site’s opening. Over 1 billion visitors came to the site, which equals out to over 5 terrabytes of data transferred to Harry Potter fans over the world. The busiest time period was when the title to Book 6, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, was released. The site has been visited by over 270 regions, the most popular region being the US and the most unique region being Saint Helena, located in the South Atlantic Ocean.
You can browse the old site at any point in its existence and play around with the features by going here and selecting any date you want at the top. That link will bring you to September 2005. Or you can read the tabs below to see the information and Easter eggs that we archived.
Order Outline: Go to the “Extra Stuff” section. Take the pen off the string, and drag it over to the blank sheet with the yellow thumbtack. Draw a lightning bolt in the middle of the sheet. Try to keep the pen as steady and centered as possible. It will reveal one of the revisions Rowling made when planning Order of the Phoenix. It includes some chapter names that were changed as well a few ideas that didn’t make the final draft.
Magical Creatures: Go to the “Links” area and click on the thin red book on the second shelf, Ancient Runes Made Easy. It reveals some information on several different magical creatures.
Teachers and Hippogriffs: First, go into the “Extra Stuff” section. Turn the radio off, then on, and wait a few seconds. Listen to the announcement telling you to put six drops of red potion followed by three of the green potion on a plant. Now, leave and click on the eraser Portkey on the desktop. It brings you to the mysterious door. Follow the instructions with the potion on the plant. Now you have another scrapbook piece, revealing (around the time of Prisoner of Azkaban) genders of teachers and some attempts for hippogriff names.
Original Synopsis: Go to the rubbish bin, and move the mug four times in a clockwise circle. When you do that, stop: It forms a circle inside. Now leave and go to the “Extra Stuff” section, and click on the card that says “Circle” with a circle on it. Now you have an original synopsis of Philosopher’s Stone.
Draco’s surname: Go to the “Fan Sites” page. To the right, click on the small red box five times. It will open. Click the question mark bubble to get the same clue as the phone-dialing one. An early (around 1994) draft of Philosopher’s Stone and information that Draco’s surname used to be “Spungen.”
The Cell Phone: Besides unlocking other hidden surprises, if you stay on the front page long enough, the cell phone in the top left corner will ring. Pick it up by clicking the blue button to see if someone is on the other end!
The Cell Phone 2: Dial 733837 (P-E-E-V-E-S), and you’ll unlock another item for your scrapbook!
The Cell Phone 3: Dial 62442 (M-A-G-I-C, as mentioned in OotP), and you’ll unlock something for your scrapbook.
The Cell Phone 4: Go to the main page. On the phone, dial “31071965” (which happens to be Jo’s birthday, 7/31/65). Now you have an early (around 1994) draft of Philosopher’s Stone.
The Eraser: In the “Extra Stuff” section, grab the eraser on the bottom of the bulletin board, and move it around the blank paper. Then, double click the small green leaves above the image, and they’ll disappear. On the main page, wait for the spider to crawl on the screen, and double click that. In the “Links” section double click the potion bottle on the shelf. Finally, click the feather on the “Fan Sites” page. Clicking on all of them will add something to the scrapbook!
The Key: On the “Links” page, click the book with the question mark on its spine, and move it to the left, then grab the key and put it on the chest on the right side of the screen.
The Leaking Pen: Go to the rubbish bin area, then double click on the pen to the left of the trash bin. This will crack it in half and make the pen leak ink that will reveal the secret to getting another item added to your scrapbook. The first item you need to click on are the eggs, located on the right side of the rubbish bin page. Next, go to the “Extra Stuff” section, and click on the hair seen right under the blank pad of paper. Then finally, head over to the “Fan Sites” page. Click and drag the empty medal box to the right or left, and it will reveal marbles. Click on those, and you’ll have a new item added to your scrapbook!
The Light Switch: Click it, and the light turns off. Click it again, and the light turns back on again. Like magic! We’re not sure why she has a light switch on her desk… or tabloids, for that matter. Tsk tsk, Jo!
The 2nd Light Switch: Another light switch can be found in the “Mysterious Door” area, which will turn on the light outside of that oh-so-mysterious room. This does not reveal any secrets, however.
The Marble: On the main page, there is a marble located right in between the FAQ Portkey and the “Welcome” notepad. Browse around the site for a moment, then go back to the main page, and wait a few minutes until a mysterious wind blows through. Click the marble when it starts to swirl, and you’ll unlock another goodie in your notebook!
The Medals: Go to the “Fan Sites” page, and find the two different medals lying on the main shelf. Pick them up, and place them in the empty holders either side of the Fan Site Trophy.
The Radio: In the “Extra Stuff” section, the radio can be turned on or off to listen to some music while browsing the area.
The Room of Requirement is possibly the most talked-about section of JKRowling.com, the purpose of which remained a mystery until it was unlocked for the first time to reveal the official title of Book 6 (with a little riddle at first, of course). Up until 2007, the door opened regularly with new information Jo wanted to surprise fans with. To pay the Room of Requirement a visit, click on the pink eraser located near the middle of the desk. Each time the “Do Not Disturb” sign was taken down, you could enter the room if you could figure out how to get in. Below are instructions on how the door was opened each time. You can try testing these out on the archive site, linked above, but we cannot guarantee that everything still works on it, particularly the WOMBAT tests.
Rowling revealed this drawing of a family tree. This drawing revealed previously unknown information:
- The names of Bill and Fleur’s children: Victorie (which we knew from the epilogue), Dominique, and Louis.
- The fact that Charlie Weasley never married or had children.
- Percy Weasley married a woman named Audrey and had two children: Molly and Lucy.
- George Weasley married Angelina Johnson and had two children: Fred and Roxanne.
- Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger had the two children: Rose and Hugo.
- Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley had the three children: James Sirius, Albus Severus and Lily Luna.
- Draco Malfoy married Astoria Greengrass and had the one son: Scorpius Hyperion.
- Luna Lovegood married Rolf Scamander (grandson of Newt Scamander, author of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), and they had two children: Lorcan and Lysander.
It was revealed the title of Book 7 was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Below were the instructions for opening the door and seeing the title:
1. Click on the eraser on her desk.
2. Click the knob on the open door in the mirror to see the Christmas tree.
3. Click on the top half of the main door to see a wreath.
4 .Click on the top of the mirror to reveal garland.
5. They will all go away if you click the spider web next to the mirror.
6. Click on the fourth chime in the window and the key for the door.
7. Drag the key to the door knob to unlock the door.
8. The door opens to reveal a package.
9. When you click the bow, the package will open.
10. Inside is a game of Hangman you can play to guess the title of Book 7!
The door revealed the Grade 2 WOMBAT (Wizards’ Ordinary Magic and Basic Aptitude Test). Instructions on how to open the WOMBAT:
1. Click the door handle to open the door.
2. Click on the candle to light it.
3. Click on the dark red quill.
4. Click on the WOMBAT paper.
5. Click on the clover at the bottom left of the desk. It will turn into a key.
6. Drag this key to the desk drawer – the top of the key must touch the drawer.
7. The drawer will open, revealing the WOMBAT Part 2 exam.
8. Click the hourglass on the desk.
9. You can now begin your exam – good luck. Note that you may either enter your student ID number that you got from the first WOMBAT test if you took it to keep a record of your overall scores, or you may create a new number.
The door revealed the first ever WOMBAT test: This marked the first time in over a year that the door had opened. Within the door you can find an overhead shot of J.K. Rowling’s desk and a copy of the WOMBAT (Wizards’ Ordinary Magic and Basic Aptitude Test). Visitors are asked to take the Level 1 WOMBAT in a 25-minute time frame, and the test determines “whether the sitter would be able to exist safely and effectively within the magical world.” To open the door:
1. Grab the rock from behind the potted plant, and use it to break the mirror.
2. Put the key in the door lock.
3. Trip the mousetrap on the top shelf.
4. Click on the paper, and read the riddle. Type “reparo.” The mirror you broke fixes itself.
5. Close the note.
6. Click on the door in the mirror. The door in front of you will open, and you’ll see Jo’s desk.
7. Move the gold tassel so that it’s pointed straight up, and then the WOMBAT test will reveal itself.
8. Take the test, and keep your Student ID number for future reference.
It was announced that Half-Blood Prince had been completed:
“I know you all expected this to happen on Christmas Day, but I was sure that those of you who celebrate Christmas have better things to do on the day itself than fight your way into my study, whereas those of you who DON’T celebrate Christmas would definitely prefer not to wait until the twenty-fifth – so…
‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ is COMPLETED and has been delivered to my English language publishers, who hope to announce the publication date within 24 hours.
Although I have joked about HP&THBP racing my third baby into the world, I have in fact had all the time I needed to tinker with the manuscript to my satisfaction, and I am as happy as I have ever been with the end result. I only hope you feel that it was worth the wait when you finally read it!
Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday and a happy and peaceful 2005,
With love from,
The instructions below explain how the door was opened for the second time:
1. Once in the Room of Requirement, click on the Christmas tree in the mirror. This will open the mysterious door.
2. Now you see a Christmas decorated room. Clicking on each present under the tree will reveal a riddle. The order of the riddles are random, so here are the answers that you must use (in no particular order):
-Corned Beef -Prince -Half -Otter -Blood -Bristol
3. Now that all the candles have been lit, click on the card hanging on the string with the yellow star on it.
J.K. Rowling revealed the names of three chapters from HBP, which were: Chapter 2: “Spinners End,” Chapter 6: “Draco’s Detour,” and Chapter 14: “Felix Felicis.”
The instructions below explain how the door was opened for the second time:
1. Get to the mysterious door page, and wait a few moments for Peeves to knock over the vase which will reveal several keys.
2. Try each key by dragging it in front of the keyhole until you find the one that opens the door.
3. When you choose the correct key, the rest will disappear, and clicking on the doorknob will open up the door!
4. Open the drawer that you see, and get the magnify glass. Then put it over the brown book.
5. This will reveal a puzzle. The answer to the puzzle is “chapters.”
6. That’s it! The titles of three chapters in Half-Blood Prince appear, and you now have Jo’s latest surprise!
J.K. Rowling revealed the first quote from Book 6 describing a character we learned to be Minister of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour, but we initially speculated this description was about the Half-Blood Prince himself.
(He) looked rather like an old lion. There were streaks of grey in his mane of tawny hair and his bushy eyebrows; he had keen yellowish eyes behind a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles and a certain rangy, loping grace even though he walked with a slight limp.
The instructions below explain how the door was opened for the second time:
1. Now that you can open up the door, move your mouse over the window sill and then toward the right, and start clicking. Click around the middle of the black area to find the light switch.
2. Once you find that, you’ll see a dartboard and three arrows sitting to the lower right of the dartboard. Throw three of them in this order: 7, 1, 3 (The code is the same number as the vault in Gringotts the Sorcerer’s Stone was in.)
3. This will move the dartboard and show a Gringotts Digital Electronic Safe. Enter the code that is shown on the “Extra Stuff” page after Peeves blows it into view (302723) to unlock the safe, and voila!
4. And then finally, click on the piece of paper lying on the bottom shelf, and there’s your next clue to Book 6!
Note: On a phone, the number 302723: J.K. Rowling’s daughter Jessica has her birthday on June 27, and her son David’s birthday on March 23. Neil (Jo’s husband) has his birthday on June 30.
J.K. Rowling revealed the title to Book 6: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Below are the instructions that eager HP fans took to see the title revealed for themselves:
After you get to the mysterious door, opening it up will reveal a brick wall. Click the middle one, the one below it, the one above the middle, the lowest one of all, and the highest. Then you’ll be in a room; click on the fan. The fan will blow papers around, and one of them will have the title.
Peeves not only causes trouble in Hogwarts, but he’s also been up to some dirty work around J.K. Rowling’s desk, making appearances throughout the site. All of these visits from him require you to remain on the relevant page for a couple of minutes. Read below to find out where he’s hiding and what trouble he was up to:
- The Main Page: A sudden wind and a black doxy will blow across J.K. Rowling’s desk, making the cup of pens fall over and the watch go out of control. The watch will also begin to change and spin out of control.
- The Mysterious Door: Look for a message from Peeves to appear in the mirror!
- Fan Sites: Peeves will steal the first two ribbons.
- Links: Peeves will blow out the candles.
- Extras: Peeves will remove a message from the bulletin board
- Rubbish Bin: Peeves will send a wind across the room and move a gum wrapper to reveal a mysterious number. He will also break a second pen in half.
J.K. Rowling likes to interact with the fans, and what better way than having visitors of her site vote on a certain question to be answered?
December 24, 2005/February 21, 2006
– Does the destruction of a Horcrux involve more than the destruction of the object?
– Why did Voldemort want the Philosopher’s Stone if he already had his Horcruxes?
Winning question and answer (with 46% of the vote):
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 (e.g., 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.
May 31, 2005/July 15, 2005
– Will Harry continue to learn Occlumency, whether with Snape or somebody else, in Half-Blood Prince?
– Is that the Pensieve on the U.S. cover or something else?
Winning question and answer (with 54% of the vote):
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.
Date Started / Ended:
December 10, 2004/May 15, 2005
– How many chapters will Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince have? (Subject to editorial changes, of course) – 7%
– Will Ron ever manage to become more than just good friends with a girl? – 25%
Winning question and answer (with 68% of the vote):
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 [also] to my characters. Prophecies (think of Nostradamus!) are usually open to many different interpretations. That is both their strength and their weakness.
July 19, 2004/October 4, 2004
– Is Percy working undercover for any secret organization/boss? – 20%
– Where has Peter Pettigrew been since the end of ‘Goblet of Fire’? – 20%
Winning question and answer (with 60% of the vote):
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 🙂
May 15, 2004/July 6, 2004
– Is Severus Snape Lily Potter’s (long-lost) brother? – 12%
– Is Sirius Black really dead? – 42%
Winning question and answer (with 46% of the vote):
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, halfway 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.”
J.K. Rowling stopped releasing new Wizard of the Months on her site in 2007. Never fear, though! We have a complete archive of wizard and witches below:
- 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–present): 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.
- 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 a fortune selling ‘cleaning’ potions that created more mould and grime.
- Hambledon Quince (1936–present): Developed a 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.
- Derwent Shimpling (1912–present): Ate an entire Venemous 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): Chieftaness of Warlock’s Council.
- Chauncey Oldridge (1342–1379): First known victim of Dragon Pox.
- Bridget Wenlock (1212–1285): 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.
- Felix Summerbee (1447–1508): Inventor of Cheering Charms.
- Gwenog Jones (1968–present): Captain and Beater of the 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 (1227–1312): The witch who invented Floo powder.
On December 24, 2005, the “Welcome” notepad was replaced with a gift in red wrapping paper with a tag and green bow. When you passed your cursor over it, the tag moved. When you clicked on the gift, the wrappings tore across the top and slipped down off the page to reveal a new notebook titled “Diary.”
Once unwrapped, the wrapping paper did not return on subsequent visits to the site. This feature only lasted as long as the other Christmas decorations were in place, until January 6.
In the first entry dated December 25, Jo explains that she plans to use the diary to give us everyday updates that do not qualify as real news. Thanks to the HP Lexicon for this archive.
We are almost there! As launch night looms, let’s all, please, ignore the misinformation popping up on the web and in the press on the plot of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I’d like to ask everyone who calls themselves a Potter fan to help preserve the secrecy of the plot for all those who are looking forward to reading the book at the same time on publication day. In a very short time you will know EVERYTHING!
A couple of weeks ago (April 28, if you want to go and search the archive) the Potter fansite The Leaky Cauldron posted an editorial on potential spoilers for ‘Deathly Hallows’. It made me laugh, but I was also incredibly moved and grateful.
We’re a little under three months away, now, and the first distant rumblings of the weirdness that usually precedes a Harry Potter publication can be heard on the horizon. The Leaky Cauldron’s early mission statement on spoilers (i.e., don’t, and we’re not putting them up if you do) is deeply appreciated by yours truly.
I add my own plea to Melissa’s for one reason, and one only: I want the readers who have, in many instances, grown up with Harry, to embark on the last adventure they will share with him without knowing where they are they going.
Some, perhaps, will read this and take the view that all publicity is good publicity, that spoilers are part of hype, and that I am trying to protect sales rather than my readership. However, spoilers won’t stop people buying the book; they never have – all it will do is diminish their pleasure in the book.
There will always be sad individuals who get their kicks from ruining other people’s fun, but while sites like Leaky take such an active stance against them, we may yet win. Even if the biggest secret gets out – even if somebody discovers the Giant Squid is actually the world’s largest Animagus, which rises from the lake at the eleventh hour, transforms into Godric Gryffindor and… well, I wouldn’t like to spoil it.
Charles Dickens put it better than I ever could:
‘It would concern the reader little, perhaps, to know how sorrowfully the pen is laid down at the close of a two-years’ imaginative task; or how an Author feels as if he were dismissing some portion of himself into the shadowy world, when a crowd of the creatures of his brain are going from him for ever.’
To which I can only sigh; try seventeen years, Charles…
I always knew that Harry’s story would end with the seventh book, but saying goodbye has been just as hard as I always knew it would be. Even while I’m mourning, though, I feel an incredible sense of achievement. I can hardly believe that I’ve finally written the ending I’ve been planning for so many years. I’ve never felt such a mixture of extreme emotions in my life, never dreamed I could feel simultaneously heartbroken and euphoric.
Some of you have expressed a (much more muted!) mixture of happiness and sadness at the prospect of the last book being published, and that has meant more than I can tell you. If it comes as any consolation, I think that there will be plenty to continue arguing and speculating about, even after ‘Deathly Hallows’ comes out. So if you’re not yet ready to quit the message boards, do not despair…
I’m almost scared to admit this, but one thing has stopped me collapsing in a puddle of misery on the floor. While each of the previous Potter books has strong claims on my affections, ‘Deathly Hallows’ is my favourite, and that is the most wonderful way to finish the series.
The long lack of updates has been due to some very hard work. I’m now writing scenes that have been planned, in some cases, for a dozen years or even more. I don’t think anyone who has not been in a similar situation can possibly know how this feels: I am alternately elated and overwrought. I both want, and don’t want, to finish this book (don’t worry; I will.)
For years now, people have asked me whether I ever dream that I am ‘in’ Harry’s world. The answer was ‘no’ until a few nights ago, when I had an epic dream in which I was, simultaneously, Harry and the narrator. I was searching for a Horcrux in a gigantic, crowded hall, which bore no resemblance to the Great Hall as I imagine it. As the narrator I knew perfectly well that the Horcrux was jammed in a hidden nook in the fireplace, while as Harry I was searching for it in all kinds of other places, while trying to make the people around me say lines I had pre-arranged for them. Meanwhile waiters and waitresses who work in the real café in which I have written huge parts of book seven roamed around me as though on stilts, all of them at least fifteen feet high. Perhaps I should cut back on the caffeine?
I made another daytrip to Leavesden a few weeks ago, where I saw twenty minutes of Order of the Phoenix, which looks fantastic. Also got a chance, before they all took off in their different directions (it was the last week of live actor filming) to talk to Dan, Rupert, Emma and Evanna, which is always wonderful. Dan has changed his theory on Snape; he says he doesn’t want to be like one of those people who are photographed, beaming, next to mad dictators.
I’ve now got a third title. I’ve been thinking back, and I know that I’ve had more titles than this for a couple of the previous books, so I’m not too worried by this. Title three currently ahead by a short nose, or perhaps that should be a vowel and two consonants.
I’ve just had a great writing week. There are few feelings more joyous than reading back over the week’s work and thinking ‘that’s not bad at all’, as opposed to the all-too-frequent, ‘it’s rubbish; I’ve wasted a week, and I’ll have to re-write the lot.’ And if you think that’s an exaggeration or false modesty, you are very, very wrong. It’s perfectly possible to put in eight-hour days and have nothing to show for them but a single idea that, if reworked completely, might be passable.
Congratulations on your W.O.M.B.A.T. scores, incidentally. You’re getting pretty good.
Sitting at my desk trying to invent a word yesterday brought back memories of the last time I did so. I had tried for days and days to hit upon the right name for ‘the receptacle in which a Dark wizard has hidden a fragment of his soul for the purposes of attaining immortality.’ Finally, after much transposition of syllables, I scribbled ‘Horcrux’ on a piece of paper and knew it was The One. But what if somebody had already used it? With some trepidation I typed ‘Horcrux’ into Google and to my delight, saw what I was looking for: ‘Your search – “Horcrux” – did not match any documents.’
So anyway, yesterday I googled ‘Horcrux’ again. 401,000 results. As you might imagine, this gave me something of a lift as I went back to scribbling nonsense words on the back of a takeaway menu.
Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry. I know it’s been a very long time since I was last in touch. I’ve been writing a novel, you see.
My readings in New York with Stephen King and John Irving were so much fun. It’s not often that I do something like that and wish I could do it all over again, but I would have happily done a third night. If you were there, and yelling, thank you: the crowds, both nights, could not have been more wonderful.
I did mess up one answer, though. I was asked, ‘what question have you never been asked that you ought to have been asked?’ – or something very similar – and my mind went blank. Blame long years of trying not to give away the plot. But it occurred to me almost as soon as I got off stage that there IS a question I’ve always been surprised nobody’s put to me and that I really should have said it while I was still on-stage. I can’t make amends to the girl who asked, but it is in tribute to her that I give the answer, belatedly, under ‘Miscellaneous Extras’ section.
Note: This question was “Why did Dumbledore have James’ invisibility cloak at the time of James’ death, given that Dumbledore could make himself invisible without a cloak?”
Be careful what you wish for; it might come true. Since complaining that I had difficulty finding anything to write on after running out of paper while working in town, I have been deluged with paper. Some of you sent single sheets, others entire pads; one enterprising paper merchants sent a large stack of notebooks embossed boldly with J K ROWLING, which I might not use in public but which are very lovely all the same. Others took a different approach, telling me exactly where you can buy writing paper in Edinburgh; some even enclosed maps. Anyway, I’ve now got enough paper to write several book sevens, so no excuse there.
I’ve been having house-elf trouble this week, though I think I’ve got them sorted out now. I’m all for house-elf rights, but the author is dictator, and the sooner they accept that, the better.
There is only one thing that annoys me about living in Edinburgh – well, two, but I’m pretty much resigned to the weather now. Why is it so difficult to buy paper in the middle of town? What is a writer who likes to write longhand supposed to do when she hits her stride and then realises, to her horror, that she has covered every bit of blank paper in her bag? Forty-five minutes it took me, this morning, to find somewhere that would sell me some normal, lined paper. And there’s a university here! What do the students use? Don’t tell me laptops; it makes me feel like something out of the eighteenth century.
The book’s still going well, I’m sure you’re pleased to hear, lack of paper notwithstanding. There was a small interruption last week so that I could go down to London for the British Book Awards, a.k.a. the Nibbies, which was a lot of fun and rather thrilling as Half-Blood Prince won Book of the Year. I also took the opportunity to visit Leavesden (the studio where they make the Potter films), which I hadn’t done in ages due to being pregnant/having tiny babies for what feels like ages. It was exciting to see some of the new Order of the Phoenix sets but most of all to see the actors again – slightly unnerving to realise that nearly all of them are taller than me now (I speak, of course, of the teenagers; Michael Gambon was always taller than me, and very lovely he looked in his new robes, too.) Apart from the pleasure of seeing Tom Felton, Devon Murray, Alfred Enoch, [and] Sitara Shah (and waving through the door at Bonnie Wright, who was busy being tutored), I had a great time talking to Dan and Matthew about books, Rupert about how his sisters never wind him up, Oliver and James about how difficult they find it to wind each other up, and Emma about Hermione’s love life. Also met, and had a long chat, with Evanna Lynch (Luna), about whom there is only one possible thing to say: perfect.
Sometimes writing goes so smoothly that you feel as though you are simply taking dictation from your muse. In my case, this often happens after a period where I am unable to write, such as over the Christmas period (compounded this year by the children’s colds mentioned in the previous diary entry). It is as though all the ideas that ought to have leaked out in the usual intermittent fashion over the preceding couple of weeks explode out of my pen once I have a few hours in which to work. I am usually most productive when I have, or have recently had, limited time.
Of course, this heavenly state of affairs will not last; it never does. I’m bound to get all snarled up in a plot tangle or else find myself temporarily stranded on the edge of a large hole in the story. Until then, however, I shall enjoy floating along on this flood of inspiration.
New Year’s Writing Resolutions
1. Muck out my study
My study is easily the messiest room in the house and probably our street; I won’t say in the whole of Edinburgh because there must be a squat somewhere that’s worse. Frankly, I shudder to think what I will find when I finally reach the bottom of all these teetering piles of garbage. However, as I currently have to negotiate an assault course just to reach my desk I think the time has come for my annual tidy-up.
2. Do not lose any more notebooks.
After a somewhat panicky few weeks I have finally located a missing notebook. As always when I mislay these things, I had been ‘remembering’, in its absence, that it contained notes so essential and ideas so imaginative that I would never be able to duplicate them, and the whole of the next book would be impoverished if they were never found. Now that I have said notebook beside me on this desk, however, I see that it contains few useful nuggets amid a lot of complete dross. Nevertheless, the stress I endured while believing it to be the notebook equivalent of the Holy Grail was enough to remind me that I must take better care of my working materials.
3. Be ruthless about protecting writing days
i.e., do not cave in to endless requests to have ‘essential’ and ‘long overdue’ meetings on those days. The funny thing is that, although writing has been my actual job for several years now, I still seem to have to fight for time in which to do it. Some people do not seem to grasp that I still have to sit down in peace and write the books, apparently believing that they pop up like mushrooms without my connivance. I must therefore guard the time allotted to writing as a Hungarian Horntail guards its firstborn egg.
4. Follow advice from critics on how to be a better writer.
I always try to act on constructive criticism. When I fail, I attempt to embrace my faults and call them my ‘style’.
5. Try and keep children healthy.
As we leave behind the sickliest winter ever known in this family, I pray that none of my kids develops a runny nose for at least a week, thus enabling me to set about serious writing with at least a few hours’ sleep behind me.
Welcome! That tired old welcome page was starting to bug me, so I thought I’d give you something new for Christmas. I’ve tried keeping a diary many times in the past and never got much further than January 15, but I’ve been feeling the need for a place to put everyday updates that don’t qualify as real ‘news’. As ever, if there is a quiet spell you should not take it as a sign that I’ve given up diary writing but rather that I am working hard on something a little more eagerly anticipated…
For 2006 will be the year when I write the final book in the Harry Potter series. I contemplate the task with mingled feelings of excitement and dread because I can’t wait to get started, to tell the final part of the story and at last, to answer all the questions (will I ever answer all of the questions? Let’s aim for most of the questions); and yet it will all be over at last, and I can’t quite imagine life without Harry.
However (clears throat in stern British manner), this is no time to get maudlin.
I have been fine-tuning the fine-tuned plan of seven during the past few weeks so that I can really set to work in January. Reading through the plan is like contemplating the map of an unknown country in which I will soon find myself. Sometimes, even at this stage, you can see trouble looming; nearly all of the six published books have had Chapters of Doom. The quintessential, never, I hope, to be beaten Chapter That Nearly Broke My Will to Go On was chapter nine [of] ‘Goblet of Fire’ (appropriately enough, ‘The Dark Mark’).
As for this website, I’ve got plans… you’ll find out what they are in due course (constant vigilance, my friends). In the meantime, happy holidays to everyone, and if Father Christmas has already squeezed down your chimney, I hope he left something good.
Until very recently, JKRowling.com was a list of links to my publishers – boring, I think you’ll agree. So I thought I’d liven it up a little.
I receive so many thousands and thousands of letters these days that it is impossible to read , let alone answer, them all. A proper website seems like a great way to communicate directly with Harry Potter fans. Everything on here was written by ME, J.K. Rowling. This is where I can tell you the truth about rumours or news stories, where I can share the extra information I haven’t put in the books, where I can give you hints and clues about what’s going to happen to Harry next, and where I can announce I’ve finished book seven… and no, that’s not going to happen very soon.
Occasionally the Dark Mark will flash at you. That is a SPOILER WARNING. It refers only to information hidden in book five, The Order of the Phoenix – if you haven’t yet finished reading the other four, proceed at your peril!
Anyway, I really hope you enjoy wandering around my desk (which was specially tidied for your visit). Don’t knock anything over, please. And watch out for Peeves.
With love from JK Rowling
(Jo to you)