New Cover Reveal for the Christmas Pig

On 29th June 2021, J.K. Rowling announced that the cover of her new children’s book – The Christmas Pig had been revealed. Designed by Jim Field the award-winning illustrator, character designer and animator.

“The new book will be published as a “gorgeously gifty hardback”, with full-colour jacket and featuring nine black and white spreads and decorative inside art from illustrator Jim Field. The jacket design will be revealed in the coming months.” The Bookseller

Jim would seem to be the ideal choice for a project that looks like a very promising animated film, and at least to me the cover has more than a little of the movie poster about it. Far more interesting to me will be the nine black and white spreads that Mr Fields has been commissioned to do. Look around his website to get an idea of some of the beautiful monochrome work he is capable of.

“Jim’s illustrations are simply perfect. It really is as though he got inside my head and drew what he saw there. I gasped out loud when I saw one particular illustration — I can’t say which it is without giving spoilers — because it was such a perfect representation of one of my favourite scenes.”  JK Rowling


“It was ever so slightly daunting when I thought about the number of people who are going to see this cover around the world. I wanted to create something filmic, timeless, that captures the excitement of J K Rowling’s incredible story and the wonder of Christmas, where the adventure begins. It is really a dream project and I’m so chuffed to be part of it.” Jim Field

Ms Rowling seems more than happy and given that Jim Field is aiming for the filmic look it is possible that we may be looking at an animated film ready for Christmas 2023.

In a comment on another thread I mentioned that Rowling tweeted about this pig before:, she was replying to her friend Jenny Colgan who had lost her daughter’s toy puffin called Neil at an airport. Ms Colgan is a very accomplished author of both romantic fiction and science fiction writing for the iconic Dr. Who series. She is also a member J.K. Rowling’s circle of friends within Edinburgh. Neil the Puffin first appears in Jenny’s romantic fiction book The Little Beach Street Bakery, published in 2014 and set in fictionalised Marazion and St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall. In 2015 she began publishing a spin off series of children’s books based on the characters she had created, principally the daughter Polly and the Puffin Neil. This series is Jenny’s first foray into children’s stories and seems to be very successful. Neil now has his own twitter account which consists principally of tweeting “eep!”, so much more tolerable than most celebrity accounts.

As a post script the original Neil the Puffin was never found, but a replacement miraculously appeared to take his place. Could J.K. Rowling be planning a similar series of adventures for the Christmas Pig? let me know in the comments.


  1. Fascinating, Nick! I have been reading the Beatrice Stubbs novels by Rowling friend Jill Prewett (who writes as ‘J. J. Marsh’) and am struck by the several parallels with what her friend has written and what we see in the Strike novels, most specifically, murders staged as suicides, a woman detective with PTSD using CBT methods to carry on, and a slow, slow narrative release on essential plot points.

    Your notes above about Jenny Colgan, an Edinburgh friend and fellow writer, makes me think it is possible, even likely, that Rowling’s creative energies are stimulated and shaped to some degree by living writers with whom she relates both as person and as literary craftsman — like every other writer ever. I suspect there will be a host of articles, theses, and books about this in decades to come.

    Thank you for making the Puffin connection with Christmas Pig well ahead of that schedule!

  2. Patricio Tarantino says

    I don’t want to sound like a party pooper, but besides her Twitter interactions, is there any other proof that Jenny Colgan and Rowling are friends?

  3. Nick Jeffery says

    Most of the public interaction is via twitter. But they are among a group of friends that (pre-covid) met fairly frequently for lunches and parties. The same group were very public attending the live performances of their friend Susan Calman when she appeared on “Strictly Come Dancing”.

  4. Patricio Tarantino says

    Thanks Nick! I tried to do a quick Google search but I couldn’t find anything 🙂

  5. For some reason, my mind wants to hold off on the idea of a future Christmas Pig series, whether on the page, or small screen (at the same time, my brain also keeps insisting if they ever wanted to go there, then TV is the most likely place for it). I think the basic reason for the hesitancy is over whether or not there’s enough story there to warrant such a media blitz approach. Another aspect of this caution might just stem from lingering questions about the possible artistry that could be revealed in the finished product. If Rowling’s usual set of thematic interests and techniques are to be found in the completed book, then how far can that translate in the hands of different writers? With all due respect, the track record on that score hasn’t looked all that impressive since the conclusion of the film version of “Chamber of Secrets”. In fact, it’s kinda been downhill ever since, if you ask me.

    I guess there’s my logic on the whole thing, anyway. The good news is that if Rowling has really been struggling to get this story just right, as she’s claimed in some of her related interviews on the subject, then it probably means we can expect a lot of her familiar literary trademarks on display. That sort of leaves the floor open to speculation on what that might be. I while back, I speculated Rowling might have been drawing on one of her Big Influences (specifically a little-known children’s book called “Roverandom” by J.R.R. Tolkien) in her composition for this story.

    After giving it some further thought, I realized there is at least one other author she could “possibly” draw from in crafting her story. I even recall her name-drop of the book of his that she liked a lot. His name is Paul Gallico, and if he’s remembered for anything at all today, then it’s for an eclectic number of works. His range in terms of subject matter is interesting for its diversity. His greatest legacy today “might” be that of a children’s author, and yet his bibliography contains a satire on the very Hollywood scene of which he was an active participant in. It’s called “The Foolish Immortals”, and I think it does involve at least some kind of longevity elixir. Then there are animal fables like “The Abandoned”, “The Snow Goose”, and “Thomasina: The Cat who thought She was God”. That last one is sort of ironic, as I knew about the Thomasina story and her author long before I was even aware J.K. Rowling existed. It marks a strange juncture were Potterphiles and old school Disney fans might come together over a shared interest, as it was the Mouse House film adaptation of “Thomasina” that I saw as a very young guy which made me aware of Gallico. How many others had that same experience?

    Gallico’s biggest successes in his lifetime seems to have come down to just two pop culture standbys. He’s responsible for both “The Poseidon Adventure”, and “The Pride of the Yankees”. When it comes to Rowling’s potential place in all this, I think we might have to turn to two of Gallico’s efforts that seem to bear the closest relation to “The Christmas Pig”. The first, and easiest, text to discuss is another animal fantasy Gallico penned, and it’s called, simply, “Manxmouse”. The second is a much more obscure short story of the secret life of marionettes entitled “The Man Who Hated People”.
    When it comes to “Manxmouse”, the case seems pretty open and shut. “J.K. Rowling praised this novel in a newspaper interview, stating “That’s a great book. Gallico manages the fine line between magic and reality so skillfully, to the point where the most fantastic events feel plausible.”[2] In a 1999 interview, she described it as a “funny, magical, very imaginative book”, but noted that she was not sure if it was still in print”.

    The phrase which sticks out the most in her comments is how she describes the author blurring “the fine line between magic and reality”. It’s a technique I’ve seen once before in another of Rowling’s stated influences, Vladimir Nabokov. If I had to guess, I’d say one of the things we should perhaps be on the lookout for is a possible ambiguity as to whether Dur and Christmas Pig are real, or if the whole thing is a trip through the inner dreamscape of the main protagonist.

    This blurring of the lines between fantasy and reality also takes center stage in the other Gallico piece I mentioned in connection with TCP. It’s also kind of the most interesting. “The Man Who Hated People” centers around a girl next door named Milly, and her relationship with Villieridge, a marionette artist and head puppeteer on a kid’s TV series known as “The Peter and Panda Show”. Yeah, this is the warning to strap in, folks. Here’s the part where things get “weird”. Gallico seems to have based his story on a once famous television staple known as “Kukla, Fran, and Ollie”, and it’s this real-life aspect which is transfigured into the setting for his story. If I had to find the best way to describe the narrative, then imagine Lilly Dursley and Severus Snape as a pair of muggles without a shred of magic in them, and yet this version of Snape is very good at controlling and manipulating puppets, seemingly making them come to life.

    True to his wizarding world counterpart, Villeridge, like Snape, comes off as cold, misanthropic, and always trying to hold the world at bay. It isn’t until the very end of the story, when Milly seems ready to leave the show for life as a stable housewife, that Villeridge uses the show’s puppet cast to give Gallico’s version of Lilly Potter his “Always” moment, or declaration of undying love. It’s a bit elaborate in the short-story, and Gallico expanded upon this moment in his various re-writes of the source material. The one thing that remains the same in all its iterations is the ending. Unlike her magical counterpart, this version of Lilly is able to shrug off a muggle life with James, and decides to join the metaphorical circus, with Villeridge-Snape forever devotedly by her side.

    Like I said, this seems to have been the one story Gallico couldn’t leave alone. However, I think the only addition I would have kept is a closing scene where as the story’s quarreling couple are sharing a final embrace, their alchemical wedding is both witnessed, and applauded by the show’s puppets. It’s a nice image that ends on that same note of blurred realities that Rowling talks about. What’s interesting to is just how many of her own themes are to be found in Gallico’s story. This includes the possible treatment of women, in relation to questions of magic and mundanity. A more in-depth summary of the story and its themes can be found here.

    So far, it is at least possible to see how this one, semi-obscure writer could act as an inspiration for Rowling. The final question is how or whether any of this will play out in her new kid’s book? Right now, I wouldn’t be surprised to find bits of both Tolkien and Gallico at play here. It’s easy to imagine Rowling taking a leaf from Gallico by keeping the reality of the title Pig as ambiguous, and never leaving us quite sure of whether we’re reading an actual adventure, or if it’s all just a dream or fantasy. At the same time, the story could function as an inner mappa mundi, or journey towards full personhood, as in Tolkien’s Rover story. Beyond that, all I can do is wait and see. With any luck, though, this is enough to offer plenty of room for interpretation and speculation. As a bit of closing food for thought, a good overview of Gallico’s themes and style can be found here. Anyone spot any other Rowling connections there?'s_style_and_themes

  6. David Llewellyn Dodds says


    I enjoyed your Roverandom suggestion (loving Roverandom – which appeared between Philosopher’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets), and am impressed by this Gallico suggestion (though my enjoyment of the range of his work needs a lot of reading to fill in). Do we know (I ask lazily) if JKR knows Masefield’s The Midnight Folk, and, if so, what she thinks of it? To my mind it’s a most wonderful ‘living toy’ story, and the first thing that sprang into mind on reading the Christmas Pig announcement. And, in the context of your mind wanting “to hold off on the idea of a future Christmas Pig series”, it has the fascinating history of having a sort of semi-sequel which is differemtly wonderful in its own right, The Box of Delights.

  7. D.L. Dodds,

    Thanks for the kind feedback.

    In answer to whether Masefield’s “Midnight Folk” could be a potential influence for TCP, I have to admit the idea does sound interesting as well. I do know you are not alone in your assertion. Both Fordy (writing for the Telegraph) and Piers Torday (for the Guardian) both make the same assertion that Masefield’s work help set the template for the kind of story Rowling was telling with the Potter books. If there’s any truth to all three ideas, then it won’t, or perhaps shouldn’t amount to too much of a surprise that Rowling is either drawing a direct inspiration from Masefield in the writing of her next book, or else that “The Midnight Folk” is acting as an unconscious influence on the proceedings.

    The links to both the Fordy and Torday articles can be found here.

    There’s a sort of added bonus in all this. It seems that Masefield’s efforts didn’t go unnoticed in the most famous Mythopoeic circle. It turns one of the Inklings was willing to spend a great deal of old-fashioned ink singing the praises of Masefield’s secondary world to the rafters. In his valuable and too critically neglected book-length study, Tellers of Tales (1969), Roger Lancelyn Green makes the following observations on both “Folk” and “Delights”:

    “It’s this complete realization, this almost uncanny conquest for literature of a secret country of the imagination, that gives the unique quality to these two books…The stories are helped…by the unassuming excellence of the language, the simplicity of phrasing which again and again brings characters to life in a few words or captures for ever some scene or background. Here the sure sight of the poet comes into play, and the visual reality calls up picture after picture to the reader. “The Midnight Folk” stands out as a breathtaking experience which remains vivid even if the details fade. In “The Box of Delights”, the experience and the vision are more nearly one and it imparts that indescribable quality which it shares with the very few books that seem thereby assured of a place among the immortals (272)”.

    Green has a bit more to say about both books than that, or course. I’d recommend picking up any 69 editions of “Tellers” to learn more. And then I’d say pour through all the rest, as I maintain Green’s insights could provide a very useful window into a compendium of the thought of the Inklings in general. Beyond this, what remains is what I have to admit appears a tantalizing paper trail from Masefield to Rowling. I just wish that either (a) that there was more of it to uncover, or (b) that I was just a lot better at it than others. That’s why I’m sort of hoping that if, say, Nick Jeffrey is reading this, he might know where to look up more on this topic, or uncover aspects that either of us have been unable to notice. I’ll swear he’s the right one for this sort of job (unless he’d rather not, of course).

    Then again, the only way to either affirm or put away any of this remains the same. All anyone can do is to just read JK’s book when it comes out and see if any allusion or connection jumps out as significant. Still, there’s plenty of reasons for doing just that right now, I’d say. As for questions of sequels, it all comes down, once more, to how her text is written. If she sets things up in a way that promise sequels, then I guess that means it was her goal all along. For what it’s worth, though. My own instincts are telling me this is one of those stand-alone type works, like “The Ickabog”, and that it’s premature to either expect or demand sequels at this point. Still, if Masefield really does prove to be an influence, then who knows, I guess.

    What is certain is that there are at least three writers (only one of whom seems to have any major audience awareness in my neck of the woods, sadly) who provide multiple points of possible thematic contact. So it’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out. For the parting record, my copy of Masefield’s “Folk” is courtesy of the New York Review of Books, and contains an afterword by Madeleine L’Engle, for what it’s worth. The one shame here is that I’m not sure how obtainable this edition is in the UK. Still, if you can get your hands on a copy, it’s recommended.

  8. David Llewellyn Dodds says


    Thak you for making me (and perhaps not me alone) aware of Fordy and Torday’s articles and L’Engle’s Afterword, all of which I had missed!

    Knowing about Charles Williams and Tolkien’s various Masefield connections, it’s tantalizing not to know for sure if they knew these two children’s novels of his (unless that’s more evidence I’ve missed!). George Sayer told me how much Lewis enjoyed The Midnight Folk ( I can’t remember whether he mentioned The Box of Delights as well), though I’ve heard Lewis did not read them till late (like another Masefield novel from 1908 which Warren Lewis notes his brother first read in 1949) – but I have not yet checked volumes 2 and 3 of the Collected Letters on this point.

    Green’s admiration might make it the more likely that the novels were discussed among Inklings – but, more tantalizing uncertainty, here (again, as far as I know).

    It will ndeed be interesting to see how Masefieldy The Christmas Pig is (or how Kay Harkery Jack is) – if at all. And, if so, whether a “loose companion piece” follows (as Torday calls the second Kay Harker novel). An adaptation as enjoyable as the 1984 BBC television Box of Delights would be no bad thing, either.

  9. D.L. Dodds,

    Thanks again for pointing out what others miss. There’s a perfect sense of irony involved here for me. I own a copy of “Poetry at Present”, have read the table of contents, and am only just now getting to the Masefield entry. In all this time, I never even connected the poet in the essay collection with the writer of the children’s book. That said, Williams’ linking of Masefield with Spenser certainly helps put the latter novel into a pretty good perspective (that said, it makes me wonder what Rowling were to think if she ever found out about Williams’ thoughts on Spenser’s qualities as a writer, unless she already knows).

    I was also unaware of Lewis’s awareness and liking for “Folk”. The same goes for Tolkien. Apparently, these are things that never turned up in what I’ve read about any of them. However, the fact that Green held such a high opinion of the author’s work is convincing enough proof for me that Masefield’s was most likely an occasional topic of discussion at Inkling gatherings. I’ve said this before, and nothing else has come along to change it. One of the things which convinces me that Green is often passing along and carrying on the thought of Lewis and Tolkien is the frequent references he makes to them in his own critical studies, else he includes them in his anthology collections.

    Indeed, Tolkien supervised Green’s thesis on Andrew Lang, and the whole reads like a sequel to “On Fairy Stories”, complete with minor corrections and adjustments to previous sentiments, bringing them up to date. In fact, it’s the Lang text that sort of makes me wonder if others have overrated the idea of the two most famous writers in the group falling out, as the contents of the “Lang” study and others convey Tolkienian sentiments which seem a lot more conciliatory to ideas like “Narnia” in general.

    One other thing that convinces me that the poet must have been a topic of conversation is a discovery in Christopher Scarf’s “The Ideal of Kingship”. In that book, he casually jots down an observation about Masefield in the course of discussing Lewis’s verse story, “The Queen of Drum”. Scarf writes: “In 1938, Lewis asked John Masefield for his opinion. Masefield said he could “feel an extraordinary beauty in the main theme – the escape of the Queen into Fairyland (72)”. I’ve never read “The Queen of Drum”, yet based on Masefield’s reaction to it, it sounds a lot like there might be a deliberate Spenserian influence going on in the whole thing. In fact, it wouldn’t be that much of a surprise to learn that it was Williams’ Masefield chapter that decided Lewis on first reading, and then later establishing contact with the latter author. The ironic part is I’m not sure Lewis or anyone else was able to convince Williams that Spenser was a major talent. “And so it goes”, I guess.

    What ever the case, it is just possible that there’s a stronger case to be made for a Masefield connection in all this. Again, all I can think of right now is to hope some proof that Rowling is aware of any of this. Like, is it at all possible to make a copy of even one of Masefield’s text in any of the bookshelf photos or footage Rowling has shown her readers?
    On final thing. You’re probably aware of this, however, Green wasn’t the only writer to pass on the literary ideas of the Inklings. John Heath-Stubbs seems to have taken al of Williams’ thoughts on poetry and literature in general, and placed it all into a work of criticism called “The Darkling Plain”. Turns out it can now be read online, for what it’s worth:

  10. David Llewellyn Dodds says


    One of the tantalizing things about Poetry at Present is that Williams does not mention Masefield’s Arthurian poetry – right when he was busy on his own retelling in its early version, which invites structural comparison with Masefield’s.

    In Tolkien’s Lost Chaucer (OUP, 2019), John Bowers has a nice overview of Tolkien’s working with Masefield in two seasons of Summer Diversions in 1938-39, quoting Masefield’s praise of Tolkien knowing “more about Chaucer than any man living” and telling “the Tales superbly, inimitably, just as though he were Chaucer returned” (p. 209), though Professor Bowers does not venture to identify when Tolkien “once heard” Masefield perform “the Monk’s Tale a good many years ago”, which Tolkien notes in his 27 July 1938 letter to Masefield.

    It’s interesting to trace Lewis’s Masefield references through Collected Letters, volume 1 – from unfamiliarity with “modern, that is to say, contemporary, literature, especially poetry” with “Brooke, Masefield, Chesterton, Bottomley” as his named examples in November 1917, to his pursuing Masefield to come to a literary society meeting in early 1919, to placing his friend Owen Barfield’s long poem, ‘The Tower’, in the context of “our best moderns, Brooke and Flecker and de la Mare” and Yeats and Masefield, with praise for a quality distinctly shared by Masefield and Barfield, in March 1921. Just when his brother, Warren Lewis, became a Masefield admirer, I do not know – certainly before 21 November 1934 when he writes in his diary that Browning’s The Ring and the Book “is the greatest discovery I have made since I found Masefield’s ‘Dauber’; not of course that I mean by this in any way to compare the two poems.” When and how often may those brothers – and their other Inkling friends – have discussed it, and other Masefield works?

    I am sure you are right that we all ought to be reading a lot more of Green’s works, not least as matter for very plausible conjecture as to what the Inklings were discussing and even in what terms. Details of discussions of Spenser would indeed be fascinating – as would details of Rowling’s reactions to any of their published thoughts on him!

    It will be fun to see if detective work of one sort or another turns up positive evidence of Rowling’s awareness of or, better, familiarity with The Midnight Folk.

    I was not properly aware of John Heath-Stubbs’s “The Darkling Plain” – if I encountered the title, I foolishly failed to follow it up – and am delighted to learn it is available online: many thanks!

    And now I wonder if we know if Rowling is familiar with his poetry or critical prose – both writers seem to have a jubilance and a dark-comic sparkle which are very compatible.

  11. D.L. Dodds,

    If I had to take a guess, based just on my initial reading of Williams’ take on Masefield’s efforts, I almost would expect him to be of the opinion that JM was good at writing an “approach towards the experience” of Arthurian poetry, however, “not the experience itself”. Got to give him this much, out of all the Inklings, he seems to be the one among them to find ways of making even a negative judgement come off as polite and humanistic. I wonder if his opinions on Masefield ever had a chance to shift more into the positive?

    I have my own copy of Bowers’ Chaucer/Tolkien volume, though I hadn’t made it to Masefield’s part yet. Or if I have, then I probably didn’t notice or make the connection because I was preoccupied with wondering where the author’s sympathies lay in terms of Tolkien’s own outlook on Chaucer and his thought. Bowers seems to take a much more postmodern approach to things (or at least that’s how it sounds to me), so you can see how it’s easy to get distracted by all that in terms of Masefield’s part. That said, it’s nice to have a tangible record of such literary connections.

    Based on the timeline given above, then I’d have to say the most logical choice for when the Lewis Brothers became familiar with Masefield was sometime during the tail-end of the early teens of the new century, and reaching full enthusiasm by sometime in the Roaring 20s. Which means that they would have discovered Masefield at or around the same time as the popular literary grapevine would have passed news of the likes of Tom Eliot their way, as well. This would have left it so that Lewis and his brother could have passed on their enthusiasm almost at once as soon as the Inklings really began to coalesce as a group.

    There’s an interesting sort of backstory that can be pieced together about the one R.L. Green book in which Tolkien had a direct hand. I’ve called it a sequel to “On Fairy Stories”. I think the main reason for that is because of the way it seems to subtly correct one aspect of the now more famous essay. In that lecture, Tolkien attributes a sentiment he doesn’t like directly to Andrew Lang himself. I’m forgetting just now what that sentiment or phrase was, except that it was denigrating in some way toward myth and fairy tale writing in general, and naturally it didn’t sit right with Tolkien.

    So of course, he gives the perceived offender a good knuckle wrapping. The thing is, according to Douglas A. Anderson, the charges laid at Lang’s feet appears nowhere in any of his writings. It forces one toward the conclusion that Tolkien might have had an absent-minded professor moment, and assigned blame to the wrong man. This might explain Tolkien’s interest in supervising Green’s college thesis on Lang as both scholar and literary writer, and in addition to being a major critic in his own day. My working theory has been, and remains, that at some point Tolkien realized he’d made a huge mistake, and for some time was desperate to correct it in some way. If I had to offer a guess as to why he allowed Green to make the corrections, and not do the job himself, then I would have to point to the curious waxing and waning quality in Tolkien’s own sense of literary self-confidence.

    If he was sure of a thing, then he often remained adamant in his judgment calls to the point of sounding obstinate. However, if he came across proof that he made the wrong call, then he could become apologetic and deferential to the point of seeming to no longer trust himself with the subject matter. I can’t help thinking it was in this frame of mind that Green’s idea for a book-length study must have seemed like a life-preserver tossed out of the clear blue, and that he therefore shared all that he knew about Lang, including possibly his original lecture notes and sources, and these in turn all went into the finished product known as “Andrew Lang: A Critical Study”. As I’ve hinted at, this might account for the more ecumenical and open-ended tone in that same work. He still refused to be believe that “Gulliver’s Travels” counts as a legit Fairy Story, though. Then again, “that’s our Professor”!

    As for Rowling, in terms of her relation to the Inklings in their collected thoughts on Spenser? I think it helps by listing the response of each of the major members one at a time. Lewis: whole-hearted enthusiasm. Tolkien: a negative opinion, possibly due to the sectarianism found in “The Faerie Queene”. CW: a seemingly general indifference, verging on a basic lack of interest, one way or the other. Rowling herself seems to come in more on the Lewisian side of enthusiasm for the poem. It still leaves us with an open question mark regarding what she might make of the responses of all three earlier authors. It’s the sort of question only she seems capable of answering, and the trouble is she likes playing things close to the vest. That said, she’s been described here as writing in a kind of on-going dialogue with definitely Lewis, Tolkien, and Nabokov. So maybe there’s the first part of the answer. I just wish I knew if she was familiar with Charles Williams.

    However, I have become curious about one final thing. In the above article, Nick Jeffrey seems to have opened a new door, aspect, or avenue of Rowling’s work. This lays in the tell-tale clues that, much like the four Inklings mentioned above, she might just find a great deal of her inspiration through interactions as part of an informal writing group. I’d say that’s a topic it’s best to keep an eye on for now. It could just be the next big discovery in the layout and nature of Rowling’s literary craft. Right now, I’d say it’s at least possible to hope that she knows and has discussed the likes of Tolkien, Masefield, Spenser, and Gallico in relation to “The Christmas Pig” in particular, and to her work in general, with an as yet undiscovered artistic support group. That’s one of the great things about her as an author. She always finds ways of expanding the horizons, both of her craft, and of literature in general, just a bit anyway.

  12. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    Re. “she might just find a great deal of her inspiration through interactions as part of an informal writing group”: might we call them the ‘Rowellings’ with reference both to the Frisian ‘reulen’ meaning ‘exchange, swop’ as, ideas, and to ‘rowel’ as instrument of inscription?

  13. D.L. Dodds,

    That ‘Rowellings’ has got to be one of the most clever linguistic puns I’ve ever run across. I almost wish Tolkien were around to both witness and comment on it. That said, if I had to think a reason for caution with such a term, then it stem from the idea that, being part of a group, it makes better sense to give each of the aforementioned authors (Rowling included) a title that does not overshadow at the expense of the other members, all for the sake of just one.

    That’s sort of why the best suggestion I could have for the literary collective (of which Rowling seems to be a part) that I could come up with is “The Mutual Aid Society”. It’s probably not the best suggestion out there, nor is it at all original with me. The whole suggested title is a reworking of the name of an earlier literary group with a much closer connection to the Inklings. This is because none other than crime writer Dorothy L. Sayers was a part of it. Her collective was known as “The Mutual Admiration Society”. They were “a group…of a circle of such women who became pals at Oxford, including Sayers; the cheekily named society…was a real club, whose members composed poetry and prose for each other’s delight”.

    All I had to do was give the same title a slight re-write in order to come up with what might be the best idea of what Rowling, and the collective to which she belongs, stand for. The idea of a group that provides not just “admiration”, but “aid” to one another just comes off sounding like the most logical form of practice or sense of support that the group is probably most likely to give to one another. This is true especially if you consider the great deal of the trouble (or Crisis to borrow CW’s term) that Rowling has had to surmount in both recent and earlier years, then the idea of a writer’s group cemented around the common bond of mutual aid begins to make several layers of sense as far as I’m concerned.

    In fact, if I’m being honest, whenever I try to find the right literary image that sums up Rowling, who she is, where she’s been, and what she’s gone through and achieved, then the best result I could find might come as a real surprise to others. It isn’t characters like Hermione or Harry that I think best sum her life and work up. Nor is it Cormoran Strike. Instead, that honor always winds up going to the figure of Sayers’s Harriet Vane. I just can’t help noting the ironically echoing parallels that keep linking both fictional character and real life author together. It’s the most remarkable example of literary resemblances I’ve ever run across.

    All that said, I suppose an alternate name for the group could be “The Mutual Exchange Society”. However, the trouble there is it makes the novice think all they do is gather to discuss economics instead of books. I also don’t think it would help to substitute the term “Exchange” for its original Renaissance meaning of the Theory of Correspondence. The idea may be sound, and yet the current grasp of both words has gone so far away as to make it sound like something its not. In this case, it almost puts one in mind of a letter writing column. Still, theses are all the best I’ve been able to come up with.

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