Alternate Ending? “Real-Life Snape”? Is it April Fool’s Day?

It should come as no surprise that everyone who ever had contact with J.K. Rowling now thinks that he or she has some sort of inside track on the tale of Harry Potter . (For example. we’ve heard for years about the neighbors named Potter) . Oddly enough, the folks Rowling openly describes as being part of her process (her real teenage friend with the blue Anglia, for example) seldom go about yapping about their deep personal relationship with the Presence. This week, we have an investigative reporter who thinks he knows the “original” ending to Deathly Hallows and the supposed discovery of the “real” Severus Snape. Both of these stories exhibit some interesting lack of insight into Rowling’s personality, style, and statements about her own work. So put on your favorite Headless Hat or other Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes product, and get ready to snort, chuckle, or sneer after the jump.
Greg Palast, an investigate journalist and author of such riveting tomes as Vultures’ Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates, and High-Finance Carnivores claims on his blog that while he and Rowling both had bestselling books (though undoubtedly with different audiences) and he shared his children’s love of Potter, they struck up a correspondence in which she supposedly told him the “original” ending for Deathly Hallows. You can read the article about Palast’s claims here, but the highlights include a different fate for Voldemort and a much later epilogue. Palast states that these “revelations” came during conversations with Rowling, which he rushed home to transcribe: He says he wrote down every detail of their conversation and decided to publish it because “that’s the danger of befriending an investigative reporter.” Funnily enough, Mr. Palast doesn’t seem to realize that, of course, Rowling (who is a really smart person and had, of course, meticulously planned her series) knew he was an investigative reporter, and, of course, she knew he’d write down and later try to cash in on their conversation. This is, after all, the woman who created Rita Skeeter and her Quick Quotes Quill.

She is also the person who created Fred and George, both of whom would have appreciated her first-rate joke: she told this guy (who seems to be skeptical about everything else in the western world, but bought this cock and bull story without even getting a receipt) a version just believable enough to fool him (the statue he mentions, along with other elements, are just based enough in the actual story to hoodwink Mr. Palast), and then she probably worked on a schedule to forecast when he would publish this stuff that he has clearly swallowed hook, line, and Howler. If Mr. Palast had remembered that this is the woman who “raised” Fred and George and pulled off some of the best surprise endings since Austen, he probably just would have laughed and thanked her for having him on.

In other news, just as Hermione laments that she seems to be the only one who ever reads Hogwarts: A History, folks who publish these “revelations” really ought to read Rowling’s own website. She has stated there that she only once has created a character completely and intentionally based on a real person: Gilderoy Lockhart. Obviously, like any author, she has woven bits and pieces of real people into her characters, just as she has beautifully used the books in her “compost heap” of vast reading in her own work. But now, in a list of “Five Villains That Were Thinly Veiled Versions of Real People,” Cracked Magazine (to which Muggle publication our beloved Weasley Twins no doubt had subscriptions), posits that Severus Snape was “based on” Rowling’s secondary school chemistry teacher John Nettleship. Apparently, Nettleship, who taught in a gloomy lab and was fond of picking on students, particularly smart ones, had to be asked by reporters flat out if he “was” Snape before he saw any connection, and the folks at Cracked mention that it is nice Nettleship learned Snape really was a good guy before he himself passed away earlier this year.
Of course, what so many people seem to miss is that just because Rowling used some of a teacher’s characteristics doesn’t make that person the “real” version of the character. Who wants to bet Rowling once had a boring history teacher or a tough female teacher who was really smart and from whom she learned loads? Of course, hasn’t EVERYONE had a teacher like that? I had more than a few teachers who had been to the Severus Snape School of Educational Sarcasm, and I’m willing to say nearly everyone else has, too. Considering how much time we all spend in school, it would be surprising if our teachers didn’t creep in if we write about school. However that DOES NOT make a person the “real” character, as I know, and will tell reporters when one of my former students writes a novel featuring a batty English teacher who blogs about popular literature.
H/t to James! Thanks!


  1. Oh, my. That really is the funniest thing I’ve ever read. I can’t believe that anyone wouldn’t see that as Jo playing a huge joke on this guy. None of it makes sense and none of it fits with the rest of the story. I’m sure she did tell him all that, but probably because he was badgering her to tell him an alternative ending, so she made one up.

    Good grief!

  2. There is no way that Jo actually wrote this alternate ending, I just don’t believe it. Isn’t is said that when she turned in her first draft of SS (or PS) she handed in the end of the last one?

  3. The Guardian :
    “Assistant Editor Michael White, in discussing media self-censorship in March 2011, says, “I have always sensed liberal, middle class ill-ease in going after stories about immigration, legal or otherwise, about welfare fraud or the less attractive tribal habits of the working class, which is more easily ignored altogether. Toffs, including royal ones, Christians, especially popes, governments of Israel, and US Republicans are more straightforward targets.” (

    Therefore, ‘a respected reporter for The Guardian’ may not be all that great a recommendation in itself, nor merit believability. I believe this chap has been hoisted on his own petard, “Skeeteresqued” by the “real” Hermione. Ah, irony is such a fine tonic, is it not?!

    Wondering what the value of one’s observations falls to when one does this sort of thing so largely in public? Might put the damper on, eh?

  4. Arabella Figg says

    Snork! This is honestly the most ridiculous Potter thing I’ve read, and that’s saying something. And isn’t Harry born in or around 1980? In 2030 he would only be 50, hardly great, great grandpa material.

    Silly writer! Don’t you know that kicks are for trids?

  5. The Newchurch says

    Arabella it said 2130, a whole hundred years later. Nonetheless, Jo has had the hollows in her head from the start, in fact she originally intended for Hedwig to survive because she was going to catch the snitch for Harry and her touch would be the thing to unlock it. Her message was always to be of love conquering evil. there was never a doubt that Voldemort would never renounce his ways, feel remorse, or have any attachment to his squib mother or muggle father. She has also made it painfully clear that she is done with the plotline of Harry and an ending such as that does not suggest an end to plot where as “all was well.” has a definate finallity to it. Jo is just not that dumb and I even doubt she truely ever had any correspondance with this nutjob who has literary success the same way James Patterson writes good dialog.

  6. Either that, or Mr. Palast has just come up with a very clever way to get everyone to read his fanfic.

  7. Uh, The Newchurch? I don’t know if you’ll see this, but if you do, I would just like to point out that Tom Riddle’s mother was not a squib. She was a witch who, when we first ‘meet’ her, is too terrified to use her magic. However, as she used her magic later to ‘trick’ Tom Riddle Sr. into loving her (with a love potion) she obviously was not a squib; this was made quite clear, at least, it was clear to me, maybe not you….

  8. Carrie-Ann Biondi says

    Good catch, Sara! I had meant to go back and check on that claim myself, but forgot. You’re absolutely correct that Merope Gaunt Riddle was a witch–and a pure-blood witch at that. Her notorious conjuring of a magical love potion to trick Tom Senior is arguably one of the primary causes of Tom Junior’s evil (in addition to his choosing bad actions out of fear of death and desire for power)–as a child born of a manipulated and loveless match.

  9. Yes, it always made me a little sad that in some respect, Tom Riddle Jr. was predetermined to be screwed up, his choices obviously took it much further than it had to go, but it has been said many times, including by Jo Rowling herself, that his inability to love is a direct result of being conceived under a love potion which was in no way his fault. But, we all know that tragedy can be turned around, it is a matter of choices.

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