J. K. Rowling’s Stories – a New Website Launched part 3

This is the third and final part of my survey of the new J. K. Rowling’s Stories website and today we will be looking at the subpages beyond the main desktop. There are five navigation tabs at the top of the homepage: Book News; My Story; Harry Potter; The Ickabog and The Christmas Pig. Join me after the break to take a look at all these areas.

Book News

The book stories section follows a similar layout to the ‘grown up’ J. K. Rowling website with the latest story at the top and earlier stories ranged below. The news items can be filtered for Harry Potter, The Christmas Pig and The Ickabog. Comparing the news items between the sites reveals that the news items are identical in content but only children’s book related items are on the Stories webpage. At the time of writing the latest story ‘Two Illustrations Revealed From The Christmas Pig’ did not feature on the J. K. Rowling website, so there may be less children focused content on that site going forward.

Scattered around this page are various items, most of which we have seen on the home page. There are the bunch of keys with the Ladurée souvenirs, a stack of Harry Potter house edition books,  some pens, a crumpled piece of paper, two notebooks and a gem! The gem is piece of ruled foolscap paper with some early jottings of the sorting ceremony.

I suspect the piece was part of the British Library Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition but it is new to me. At the top is a list: (Ghost) Court N; Hat M; Arbitrary List M; Gateway M; Statues N; Selection Committee (Prefects / Hs of H ok) MN. This appears to be a list of alternative sorting methods with N (no?) and M (maybe?) attached. Rowling appears to have made up her mind with the note “Forget Song, just put on hat”. We have some sketches of the hat and an (almost) final version of the first verse of the sorting hat song. The list of topics Dumbledore needs to cover in the announcements is listed – Forest, Quidditch Trials and Corridor.

My Story

My Story is the J. K. Rowling biography section of the website. This is very similar to the ‘about’ section of the old website, written in a simpler style, but does not contain any new information. At the bottom of the page is a button titled ‘read more’ which brings up Q&A a selection of which are below:

Q1. Where do you get your ideas? Do you have a process when you write?

I wish I knew where they came from because I’d go and live there. It’s a mystery to me where it all comes from, but I’m quite pleased I don’t know; it might spoil the fun if I did. I talked a bit about how I process ideas when I was on a recent BBC radio programme, which you can listen to here.

Q2  Where do you get the names for your characters?

I collect unusual names; I’ve got them from maps (Snape and Dursley), saints (Hedwig) and war memorials (Lockhart). Some of the names in the books mean something – Dumbledore is an old English word for ‘bumble bee’ and I gave it to Dumbledore because I imagine him humming to himself a lot. I also invent names; Malfoy, Flitwick and Quidditch are all made up, although I later found out there’s a place called Flitwick, I’d never been there or heard of it when I came up with the name! In The Ickabog, the name of Lord Spittleworth is derived from Lickspittle, meaning a man who sucks up to the   powerful.   Flapoon came from ‘buffoon’, which suited the foolish, greedy character and Fraudysham really means what it says: a fraud and a sham! 

Q5 What was you’re favourite subject at school?

English, of course. I actually wrote my first whole novel in my English classes with Mr Wells.

Q7 Did you have pets growing up? Do you have any now?

Yes, we had a West Highland Terrier when I was growing up and I currently own two. They’re called Bronte and Emma.

Question 3 is a particularly interesting answer as she names an English teacher ‘Mr Wells’ who I think is previously unknown to fandom.

Around the page are various objects: A peacock paperweight, the same one shown on her old homepage and possibly the one shown, side on, at the homepage making that strange knocking sound. Her glasses with a polaroid photograph of Brontë the dog. A leather bracelet, the astrology ball, the mother’s day card with a Japanese doll, a bowl of popcorn and a Christmas decoration in the form of a leaping dog.

Harry Potter

The Harry Potter page starts with a brief introduction to the series and breaks out into three sections:

The Harry Potter Stories

Containing a brief introduction to each book and links that take you to to Wizarding World official site for The Cursed Child play and Fantastic Beasts Film.

9 and 3/4 Questions

Starts a text bubble with questions about the series, one of which is:

Q6 Does Harry Potter still have his owl (Hedwig) and does Hermione still have her cat (Crookshanks)?

Poor Hedwig died in book seven, but I like to think Harry would always have a snowy owl in her honour. Crookshanks lived to a ripe old age, but I’m afraid he’s no longer with us.

Some corners of Twitter are already in howls of anguish over the fate of poor Crookshanks.

The Magical Journey…

The magical journey shares some photographs and a short (30sec) video from book launches try and give some sense of the cultural phenomenon that was and is Harry Potter. I must agree with the September edition of the Rowling Library that this idea has much promise but has fallen short here. Surrounding the pages in the Harry Potter section are various editions and illustration from the books. The main page contains a Rowling drawing of Pomona Sprout and the Magical Journey page contains the hand drawn map of Hogwarts.

The Ickabog

This page is now a redirect for Ickabog.com and the Ickabog twitter account has also been taken over by @jkr_stories. If you were following the old account you will now be following the new one.  Bringing all of Rowling’s assets into one website seems like a sensible way streamlining her brand. There is an introduction to the history of The Ickabog as the story lost in the attic until the Covid epidemic. There is also a short promotional video before it is broken out into the following sections:

The Illustration Competition

This is a really lovely summary of the wonderful competition that was run in the summer of 2020. The winners of the two English language editions are shown here allowing those of us with only one to see more winning drawings.

All You Need to Know

This launches a text bubble Q&A including the following:

Q1 Where did the idea of The Ickabog come from? Is this a Harry Potter or Wizarding World story?

About the Book


This page starts with an overview of the fairy tale setting before a look at the first chapter via an animated book or a listen to the narration by Steven Fry via an audio player. Hidden among the illustrations is a picture of Fred the Fealess that I do not remember from the competition, and I suspect is one of Rowling’s own drawings. If this isn’t enough to grab your interest we also have video of J. K. Rowling reading chapters 1, 2 and 21.

Ickabog Activities

If your Ickaboggle missed the fun of summer 2020 or if they just wish do it all again, then this page has some well set out activities for them as well as videos of four competition winners sharing their creative process.

The Christmas Pig

Christmaspig.com also redirects to this page and has an overview of the book followed by a quote from Jo:

I’ve always wanted to write a Christmas story, but it had to be the right story, and finally I found it. The book was a long time in the making. It was supposed to be the next children’s book I published after Harry Potter but, because I wanted to do something to help during the pandemic, I decided to put out The Ickabog instead. But now The Christmas Pig is coming!

I can’t wait to hear what you think of the story!

Nicely confirming the theory I tentatively suggested in 2020. After the cover illustration is the video of Rowling talking about the setting of the book posted here on Monday, and then a set of Q&A.

If I have missed anything, please let me know in a comment below!


  1. Thank you, Nick!

    This three part series is not only a helpful introduction and guide to Rowling’s “streamlining of her brand” via a bifurcation of her work tailored to her very different audiences, children and adults, it also simultaneously serves up all of the Easter Eggs for our examination, as often as not with your insightful interpretation. I for one was struggling with the ‘M’s and ‘N’s on that manuscript page and was delighted and startled by your almost certainly spot-on exegesis of it as Rowling’s Sorting Hat decision page.

    It’s the mark of a right-reading that escapes almost everyone else, genie genius, that it is immediately after accepted as true, even “obvious,” and the first to have got it right is forgotten. I will do my best to remember this Sorting Hat page in future and how exciting it was today to see it and then read your revelation of what I was seeing that I’d missed.

    With grateful admiration for this introduction and guide to the new website,


  2. Thank you Nick! Yes, that page was in the History of Magic exhibition, and the note beside it in the catalogue (not authorial, but presumably the result of speaking to her about it): ‘These notes show the author listing some possible ways [of Sorting]. The note ‘statues’ represents her idea that four statues of the founders in the Entrance Hall might come alive and select students from the group in front of them. Other ideas included a ghost court, a riddle, or prefects choosing students.’ In Pottermore Rowling wrote ‘I wrote a list of the ways in which people can be chosen: eeny meeny miny mo, short straws, chosen by team captains, names out of hat – names out of a talking hat – putting on a hat – the Sorting Hat’ The general idea is the same but it is interesting to note that Rowling’s memory of the options does not quite accord with the ideas she actually originally wrote down – suggesting that she was remembering, rather than consulting the page in her notes, when she wrote the Pottermore entry.

  3. Nick Jeffery says

    Thank you John and Beatrice, I must admit to a touch of cognitive dissonance seeing other alternatives to a story I have absorbed. And her notes are fascinating, a committee of prefects and heads of houses would have been ghastly.

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