The Christmas Pig: New Rowling Story

A change to the Rowling Twitter header, followed by a joking retweet that was erased (and then reposted), ended this morning with the announcement of the 12 October publication of a new children’s story by J. K. Rowling, The Christmas Pig. From the Rowling.com website page:

The Christmas Pig is a heartwarming, page-turning adventure about one child’s love for his most treasured toy, and how far he will go to find it.  It’s a standalone story, unrelated to any of J.K. Rowling’s previous work, and is suitable for children 8+: a tale for the whole family to fall in love with.

Jack loves his childhood toy, Dur Pig.  DP has always been there for him, through good and bad.  Until one Christmas Eve something terrible happens – DP is lost.  But Christmas Eve is a night for miracles and lost causes, a night when all things can come to life – even toys…  And Jack’s newest toy – the Christmas Pig (DP’s annoying replacement) – has a daring plan:  Together they’ll embark on a magical journey to seek something lost, and to save the best friend Jack has ever known…

The Presence returned to Twitter after five months of silence with a change to her header and a retweet, that according to friends in the UK and Argentina was posted then taken down only to appear again. Here are the new header and that tweet:

Three Quick Notes:

(1) Perhaps the most encouraging news is that the first fifty comments made by twitter followers to Rowling’s return to posting included only two references to the transgender kerfuffle vis a vis Maya Forstater’s appeal this month and both were supportive of Rowling’s position. The ‘Welcome Back!’ and ‘We Missed You!’ memes were the rule without exception. I expect that will change as word spreads about The Christmas Pig but this opening salvo sans nastiness is a very positive change for the better.

(2) I don’t think this means Rowling has returned to regular tweeting, in fact, I would be astonished and very disappointed if it did mean this. That her response to Mhairi W went out, came down, and was reposted suggests some real hesitance to re-enter the social media game. I’m hopeful that this tweet to her more than 14 million followers was the exception made to serve the obvious marketing expectation from her publishers rather than a joyful reentry into the nether world of the Twitterati and the Ideological Twits. I think all of her fans prefer new stories, screenplays, and novels, the fruit of her focus on her vocation as author, to her endless and unedifying engagement with social media trolls and tweeters.

(3) I have been sitting on a post about the confusing comments Rowling has made about the genesis of The Ickabog through the years, from its being her next project in 2007 and all but done a few years later to an item in the attic she dusted off for the Covid lockdown pande-mania. I hope that Nick Jeffery will explain in a Guest Post or in the comment thread below how the announcement of this new story creates a reasonable alternative to my pet theory, based on Rowling’s contradictory statements about a children’s story for close to fifteen years, that The Ickabog publication was only rowled out (sic) last summer as a fire break to all the negative transgender controversy publicity, a necessary sop to public opinion to smooth the way for Troubled Blood’s publication in September.

A new story by year’s end! Hurrah!

 

Stanford Review: JKR Not a Transphobe – And It’s Not a ThoughtCrime to Say So

Maxwell Meyer has written an opinion piece for The Stanford Review, ‘Stanford’s Independent Newspaper,’ under the headline: ‘A Harry Potter-themed Stanford dorm panics over “transphobic, anti-semitic, and racist” J.K. Rowling.’ His Stanford University dormitory, it seems, has a Harry Potter theme with its students being sorted into the famous four Houses at Hogwarts. This year that meant special comment had to be made during orientation to distance this theme from the radioactive opinions of J. K. Rowling. Meyer reports that

student staff read the following statement during our first virtual house meeting:

“We want to acknowledge that J.K. Rowling has made many transphobic, anti-semitic, and racist statements over the past year. Her beliefs do not reflect our values as a house, and we want to make it clear that we do not tolerate comments like hers in this dorm. Our theme… is intended to make this space safe and fun for you this quarter.”

His editorial first makes the straightforward points of showing the absurdity of the claims that Rowling has ever made “transphobic, anti-semitic, and racist statements.” He then puts these claims into the context of the “moral panic” of our times and challenges the Stanford University community to stand up to the know-better bullies on campus who are policing thought and restricting the open exchange of ideas: [Read more…]

Troubled Blood: The Secret of Rowntree

Rattenbury, the yapping terrier in Lethal White, had a name that turned out to be a hidden key to the novel’s murder mystery. In brief, there was a historical real-world murder case featuring a Rattenbury on which the patricide of Strike4 could have been modelled. See Louise Freeman’s Rattenbury the Wonder Dog: The Secret of Lethal White’s Yapping Terrier for that fascinating story.

It turns out that Rowntree, the Ellacott’s aging chocolate Labrador retriever, also has a name with significant meaning. To English men and women, especially those in Yorkshire, the name ‘Rowntree’ has the same association that ‘Hershey’ or ‘Nestle’ has for Americans and non-Brits; it is the name of the largest chocolate confectionery concern in their area.  Here are my three quick-thoughts on this subject: [Read more…]

The Chessmen in the First Potter Film

What a delight! Thank you to Viktor for sharing this find; I had no idea the chessmen in the film version of Philosopher’s Stone had such a great backstory. Read more about these pieces — their history and where to find a replica set — at the British Museum blog page, ChessEquipments.com’s Lewis Chess Set page, Etsy, or at LewisChessPieces.co.uk!

Does anyone think the film’s chessboard pieces “miles beneath Hogwarts” resemble the Lewis chessmen?

Hogwarts Legacy RPG Delayed to 2022

I’m skeptical that there are many (any?) HogwartsProfessor readers that are ‘really into’ role playing games on their computers, but in that supposition I am probably only revealing how naive and misinformed I am. Lev Grossman and his twin brother Austin, after all, not only play and review these games, but, in Austin’s case, design them. There is a literature nerd/RPG geek overlap out there.

So, for all you neglected RPG playing Serious Readers in the audience, here’s a News Flash from GamesRadar.com: ‘The Harry Potter themed role playing video game scheduled for release this year, Hogwarts Legacy, has been postponed until 2022.’

I was fascinated to see in the ‘sneak preview’ video above that ‘Legacy’ is set in the late 19th Century Hogwarts. The announcer notes that this is a century before Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s time at the magical castle cum wizarding school and decades before Newt Scamander and Company walk the hallowed halls. In case you’re wondering, as I was, if Albus and Aberforth Dumbledore might make cameo walk-ons, they could only do so as children too young to be students (older brother DDore is born in 1881). Set in the past as it may be, 1800s Hogwarts seems to have the same freedom from racial and sexist bias as the one we experienced imaginatively in Rowling’s late 20th Century Septology.

If anyone out there is a ‘gamer,’ please share in the comment boxes what we should know and why we should care about Hogwarts Legacy as well as its delay until 2022!