Rowling’s Admitted Literary Influences

I have hunted, trust me, but I have been unable to find a collection online in a single post of all the writers that Rowling has admitted in any one of her many interviews as having read and admired. I do not mean authors to whom Rowling has alluded in her stories by using a character name, poem title, or even an epigraph or longer poem reading. For that, Beatrice Groves’ Literary Allusion in Harry Potter and her work online since in tracking Rowling’s post-Potter ‘allusive-ness’ are the brilliant go-to resources. What I want is a single internet page reference, frankly, of ‘Rowling’s Admitted Literary Influences’ or ‘Confessed Favorites’ or just ‘Books I have Read and Liked’ for my thesis writing so I needn’t do an information dump that will add fifty-plus citations to my Works Cited pages and do nothing for the argument I’m making.

Here, then, is my best attempt at a collection, one in alphabetical order by last name of author cited, with a link to at least one source or interview in which Rowling is quoted as liking that writer. It is not meant as anything like a comprehensive gathering of Rowling’s comments about any author; the Austen entry alone would be longer than the whole list should be if I went that route. Each author gets one, maybe two notes just to justify their entry on the list.

Even noting that necessary brevity, I am alarmed, frankly, at how short the list I have gathered is — only 58 [update: 87 as of 28 December 2020] writers in twenty-two years of interviews and thousands of tweets? — and hope very much that you, serious reader, will add the ones you know I’ve missed in the comment boxes below with the link or links to the relevant interview. 

Especially if you can find and send a working url to her praising Edmund Spenser, Henrik Ibsen, or the genius of the Blue Oyster Cult lyricist!

After the jump — ‘Aeschylus’ and ‘Alcott, Louisa May’ to ‘Whitman, Walt’ and ‘Wodehouse, P. G.’! [Read more…]

Rowling’s 2008 Harvard Quotation Gaffe

The day after Rowling gave her Commencement Address at Harvard in June 2008, I posted a review of the talk here at HogwartsProfessor, ‘Rowling Rocks Harvard: On Failure and Imagination.’ I thought it was a brilliant speech (still do) and, in addition to giving the two principal points she made full marks, I admired how The Presence side-stepped the several significant IEDs she might have intentionally or unintentionally triggered.

I didn’t make a big deal of it, but I was careful to note that Rowling’s quotation of Plutarch — “What we change inwardly will change outer reality” — was almost certainly not from Plutarch. It’s a great line, perhaps the most often quoted one from her Harvard talk, but, having had to read a lot of Plutarch back in the day, it seemed a real stretch to me. I included in a parenthetic note about the quotation in the post an aside that it was probably Otto Rank, the Freudian psychoanalyst, rather than the author of the Moralia and Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans who actually wrote the line.

Why did I think that it was Otto Rank rather than Plutarch? Wanting to know from which of Plutarch’s many, many works this quotation had been lifted for inscription in stone on the University of Exeter Classics corridor, I did a simple internet search for the quotation and Plutarch. The only thing that popped up was a page from a quotation site online, Cybernation.com, one that had collected bon mots about ‘Achievement’ for students or speakers in need of a great line to raise the class grade for a paper or talk. “Achieve the status of a well-read person without having to do the reading!”

That page went offline in 2012 but can still be accessed via the WayBack Machine. Here is what the relevant portion of the page looks like: [Read more…]

Farewell, Walter Hooper, Protector of C.S. Lewis’s Literary Legacy

Hooper-2009When C.S. Lewis died in Oxford in late November, 1963, there was very little international furor, because the man who invented Narnia had the great misfortune to pass from this earth within the same twenty-four-hour period that saw Lee Harvey Oswald assassinate President Kennedy in Dallas (Aldous Huxley also died that day, also with little fanfare). Ironically, yesterday, December 7, 2020, Walter Hooper, secretary to Lewis and editor of many of his works, passed through the Stable Door and into the real Narnia. And I almost didn’t hear about it.

[Read more…]

Troubled Blood: Strike’s Anthem

‘Better Off Without a Wife’ by Tom Waits — my guess is that Strike knows the word to this song as well as he does ‘The Song of the Western Men.’ Enjoy!

Help Save Tolkien’s Northmoor Home

Project Northmoor Overview from Brian Boyd on Vimeo.

Go to ProjectNorthmoor.org for more information about the effort to create a Tolkien landmark site and museum and how you can help.

Hat tip to Karen!