J. K. Rowling and the Queen

Shortly after 6pm BST yesterday it was officially announced that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II had died, peacefully at home that afternoon. As the United Kingdom and nations of the Commonwealth that held her as sovereign enter a period of mourning, J. K. Rowling released a statement via the medium of Twitter:

Some may find the outpouring of British shock and grief at this moment quaint or odd, but millions felt affection and respect for the woman who uncomplainingly filled her constitutional role for seventy years. Most British people have never known another monarch, so she’s been a thread winding through all our lives. She did her duty by the country right up until her dying hours, and became an enduring, positive symbol of Britain all over the world. She’s earned her rest.

J. K. Rowling first met Queen Elizabeth in March 2001 shortly after the publication of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages. Harry Potter creator J K Rowling and Senior Commissioning Editor Emma Matthewson (right) at Bloomsbury Publishing in London. During a royal ‘theme day’, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh are were due to see various aspects of the book industry. Rowling had just been invested by The Prince of Wales with the honour of Officer of the British Empire, announced at the previous years Queen’s birthday honours. Prince Charles was reported to have confirmed he was a fan of Harry Potter during the ceremony.

In 2004 she again met the Queen, this time at a reception in Buckingham Palace to honour Britain’s Women Achievers and again in 2006 at the Children’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace as part of the Queen’s 80th birthday celebrations. 

Princess Anne presented the writer with a benefactor’s award at a ceremony at the University of Edinburgh in September 2011 during the Princess Royal’s first duty since being installed as the University’s new chancellor. 

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London played host to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate, along with Prince Harry in 2013 to commemorate the studio’s official opening. J.K. Rowling and a number of the cast and crew from the films were also there to greet them.

Rowling’s crowning Royal honour came in 2017 as she was made a Companion of Honour by the Duke of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace. The order is limited to 45 living UK citizens and no more than 65 overall. She said she felt “deeply honoured and proud” to get the award. “To be included in the distinguished and diversely talented company of the other Companions of Honour, especially as a female writer, is a particular privilege,” she said in a statement.

It is hardly surprising that a monarch who has been such a constant presence in British sense of self and identity for the last seventy years should have rubbed shoulders with an author that transformed children’s literature, and indeed, literature in general so profoundly in just the last twenty five. It is icons such as J. K. Rowling and Her Majesty that give our cultural landscape shape and presence, both should be treasured, even as today we grieve the loss of our Queen.

Ink Black Heart – The Five Day Countdown Begins!

It is that strange time before publication, when its too late to start a new book (I’ve just finished Great Expectations on very good advice) and too long to wait for the new book. For those who are tempted: Apple Books have release the first 120 pages as a preview, and for the rest of us, we must keep ourselves busy. To help us pass the time productively, Beatrice Groves- Research Lecturer and tutor at Trinity College, Oxford, and author of  Literary Allusion in Harry Potter, will present three articles on Friday, Saturday and Sunday to whet our appetites.

Someone who is certainly keeping herself busy (and at work too!) is J. K. Rowling:

Which of course begs the question – what is she working on? Could it be ‘Love Stories for the Rich and Desperate’? ‘Final Cries of Men’? a new chapter in the Fantastic Beasts franchise or cracking on with Strike 7? She has surprised us before with two unexpected children’s books, so really anything is on the table. Let me know what you think down below.

Ink Black Heart – Twitter Character Update

Pat Chauncey has posted an update that suggests both she and Strike are still smoking, which poses an interesting if slightly meta question. In what time frame are the characters speaking from? The existence of Anomie would suggest they are operating from a frame at or about the time of Ink Black Heart. This would also explain the existence of the now ancient Wolfgang. 

Roddy Fforbes has disappointed. While we could infer that he was British and upper or upper-middle class from his brief mentions in the book, he has now become a full pastiche of Bertie Wooster. If the creators of this account have access to The Ink Black Heart, then I cannot believe that Roddy is written like this:

Anomie remains as mysterious as ever, posting four pictures. Firstly images of St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall and the Yorkshire Dales from early British Rail advertising. Then an image of the underground from the Ladybird book The Story of the Railways (1961) and the cover of a humorous modern Ladybird book for adults The Rock Star using original period illustrations.

Brian Mathers is continuing his sickly sweet posts followed by blood curdling threats, sure to end up swiftly in the “nutter drawer”.

Ink Black Heart: Rowling Interactive Q&A

The Robert Galbraith Twitter account has announced an upcoming interactive fan question and answer event. Scheduled for the 8th and 9th September this is likely to be right in the middle of most fans first reading of the new book. Some video has already been posted, and saved for posterity by our friends at The Rowling Library:

What does The Ink Black Heart explore?

I see this as a novel about disconnection. And people feeling disconnected in real life. And exploring what they find online as a way of connecting. But – it – I don’t want to give too much away. But the central theme of the book is anomie, which is a state of lacking normal social or moral norms. And – so, yeah, it’s really an exploration of that. It is a very sort of modern malaise. Although the term anomie has been around for a long, long time and it really – the term arose through industrialisation. People losing meaning in their daily lives and – and feeling that they themselves were not really part of society. Not really part of a whole. So, yeah. So, it’s a big theme. But it is explored in a very sort of contemporary way.

How much of the novel is drawn from your own experience?

I have never created a book – and this book certainly isn’t created from my own experience – you know, with a view to talking about my own life. That doesn’t mean, of course, that your own life experience isn’t in the book.

With this book – I had been planning this book for so long and then a couple of the things that happen in this book have since happened to me. And so, I would like to be very clear that I haven’t written this book as an answer to anything that happened to me. Although I have to say when it did happen to me, those who had already read the book in manuscript form were – are you clairvoyant? I wasn’t clairvoyant, I just – yeah, it was just one of those weird twists. Sometimes life imitates art more than one would like.

But, no, it’s not – this isn’t about my experience of – as being a creator. My experience – if I wrote about my experience as a creator, it would look very different. And I have to say, for example – which I think will be a question readers would ask: the Potter fandom, by and
large, has been amazing to me. Incredibly supportive and I still receive tonnes of love from the Potter fandom. So, the fandom in this book is very much not a portrait of the fandom. It is of a very – I think a very different kind of fandom.

What is it that makes Strike and Robin such a good team?

The reason I love writing those two characters so much is I love them both as characters. And I love the friendship. I love writing – and of course I love writing the sexual tension, which I know is – is a big deal for certain readers. But my feeling was always that each of them had quite a lot of changing and growing to do. Even Strike who is 10 years older than Robin.

You know, his – his past is an unusual one. And it has left him with issues that I don’t think he has ever really fully explored. And I feel that in books five and six, this being book six, you start to see him recognising some of this. He has still got a way to go. Equally, Robin, who’s had, you know, not a particularly typical romantic history because of – she has trauma in her past – in this book really does get to show a quite – what I think readers might find quite an unexpected side of her.

So, I love – I love the fact – to me it is a real friendship, they do – they rub – they can occasionally infuriate each other. But they are very complementary personalities, I think.

And they – their shared endeavour is really – is at the absolute root of what they value in each other and what they – I think now in this book, particularly at the end when something quite symbolic happens, you see that they recognise that they couldn’t have done it without
each other. And that’s – you know, that’s a wonderful feeling when you – when you have a shared endeavour with someone, and I empathise with that a lot.

It is not yet clear how the event will be conducted, but fans have been promised the opportunity for voting for the questions the want answered. It seems likely that all the answers have already been recorded, and I for one hope that in the fullness of time we will get to see all the footage.


Rowling “Strikes TV Deal for Spin-off!” Maybe

The UK’s Daily Mail has a “scoop“. According to Alison Boshoff who seems to concentrate entertainment and celebrity articles, her sources in London have confirmed that a deal was struck six months ago and writers are currently working on the project. Current rumours have been sparked by the change a of management at Warner Bros, now led by David Zaslav, however:

The company’s corporate spokesman refuses, rather aggressively, to comment on any ‘private meetings’ which Zaslav (known as ‘Zas’) may have had. All most peculiar, given that the ‘meeting’ would concern the largest asset Warner has — the intellectual property (IP) covering all things boy wizard — and would thus not really be personal at all. Rowling controls the Potter ‘IP’, and every decision has to come through her, whether it’s about merchandising, theme parks, video games or anything else.

Warner has been criticized in the past for providing limited support for J. K. Rowling, however in the aftermath of the latest threat to her, the new management were quick to issue a supportive statement.

‘Warner Bros Discovery strongly condemns the threats made against J.K. Rowling. We stand with her and all the authors, storytellers and creators who bravely express their creativity and opinions . . . the company strongly condemns any form of threat, violence or intimidation when opinions, beliefs and thoughts might differ.’

I have a ‘rule of thumb’ that any anonymous source used by the Daily Mail celebrity pages are largely fictitious. Is the world yet ready for a non Rowling written spin-off? (Fantastic Beasts 3 not withstanding). Let me know you thoughts down below.