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.’!

Adams, Douglas  J. J. Marsh — J. K. Rowling Interview, August 2013

The perennial literature debate flowered recently. How distinct is literary fction from genre fiction, in your view?
There has always been an overlap…. I am pretty indifferent to the distinction between ‘literary’ and ‘genre’ fiction myself, and I hop pretty freely between the two as a reader without feeling remotely as though I am ‘slumming it’.  So-called ‘genre’ fiction has given us deathless characters like Sherlock Holmes, Ford Prefect and James Bond, who have forever influenced our culture and language; what is there to be snobbish about?

Aeschylus http://www.mtv.com/news/1572107/harry-potter-author-jk-rowling-opens-up-about-books-christian-imagery/

“Deathly Hallows” itself begins with two religiously themed epigraphs, one from “The Libation Bearers” by Aeschylus, which calls on the gods to “bless the children”; and one from William Penn’s “More Fruits of Solitude,” which speaks of death as but “crossing the world, as friends do the seas.” No other book in the series begins with epigraphs — a curious fact, perhaps, but one that Rowling insists served as a guiding light.

“I really enjoyed choosing those two quotations because one is pagan, of course, and one is from a Christian tradition,” Rowling said of their inclusion. “I’d known it was going to be those two passages since ‘Chamber’ was published. I always knew [that] if I could use them at the beginning of book seven then I’d cued up the ending perfectly. If they were relevant, then I went where I needed to go.

“They just say it all to me, they really do,” she added.

Alcott, Louisa May  https://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/books/review/j-k-rowling-by-the-book.html

Did you have a favorite character or hero as a child? Do you have a literary hero as an adult?

My favorite literary heroine is Jo March. It is hard to overstate what she meant to a small, plain girl called Jo, who had a hot temper and a burning ambition to be a writer.  

Little Women and Harry Potter: Jo Rowling is Jo Marsh (Quotation from DVD Extra Interview)

You see, I was a plain — and that is relevant! you know that is relevant, that isn’t a trivial thing, especially when you’re a kid — I was a very plain, bookish, freckly, bright, little girl. I was a massive book worm and I spent a significant part of my reading looking for people like me.

Now I didn’t come up with nothing. Y’know, I remember Jo March who had a temper and wanted to be a writer so that was a lifeline.

An interview with J. K. Rowling — who longs to have dinner with Colette…

With which literary character do you most identify?

I’ve got to be honest. Jo March. I read Little Women when I was eight; and I didn’t know that there was someone out there like that. Someone who burningly wanted to write, because I did want to write, and she even had my name! And she had my bad temper, because I’ve got a short fuse. And she was plain, in a family of pretty girls, and I was plain. So it’s got to be Jo March.

Allingham, Margery 

Val McDermid Interviews Robert Galbraith at Harrosgate Festival

Val McDermid:  How did that love affair with crime start for you?
JKR:  Probably…I know I was reading Christies when I was quite young. All of the Big Four – Marsh, Allingham, Christie and Sayers – I’ve read and loved. My very favorite of those four is Allingham and she’s the least known. It’s The Tiger in the Smoke, which I think is a phenomenal novel. I read that when I had a newborn baby and I was so tired, I’ll never forget how that book held my attention. Every night I would go to bed absolutely exhausted, but I had to read, and it’s the only book I’ve ever read literally page by page because I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Because it gripped me so much. So anyone wanting an amazing atmospheric…this taut narrative….a genuinely terrifying villain …The Tiger in the Smoke.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/10/01/mugglemarch?currentPage=all

In Britain, Ian Rankin typically publishes a new novel in October, and it tends to go to the top of the best-seller list. He said that, this year, his publisher moved the date to November, fearing that the late-September launch of “The Casual Vacancy” will, for weeks, render all other fiction invisible to readers and to the media. Rankin was taken aback but glad for the extra writing time. He wondered if “The Casual Vacancy” might have a whodunnit air; Rowling has talked to him of her admiration for British crime writing of the nineteen-twenties and thirties. “She loves Margery Allingham and Dorothy L. Sayers,” he said, adding that the Pagford setting had relieved him of his greatest fear: that Rowling had been working on a crime novel set in Edinburgh. He said, “I hope she’ll create an English village that she will know intimately—and it will be real to us.”

Allende, Isabel

Almond, David https://www.oprah.com/omagazine/jk-rowlings-bookshelf/6

“[Almond’s Skellig is] the best children’s book I have read recently.”

Andersen, Hans Christian https://daphne.blogs.com/books/2010/10/jk-rowling-wins-hans-christian-andersen-literature-award-books-guardiancouk.html (video here)

Rowling said she was “humbled and deeply honoured” to receive the prize, saying “Hans Christian Andersen is a writer I revere, because his work was of that rare order that seems to transcend authorship,” and praising Andersen’s “indestructible, eternal characters.” “He is the Shakespeare of Children’s Literature.”

Arendt, Hannah

Aristophanes, ‘The Frogs’ https://www.rowlingindex.org/work/wnna/

Greek and Roman Studies gave me a few things I value even more highly than my fond memories of The Frogs: two of the best friends I ever made at university, for instance, and the unforgettable experience of being lectured to by a person best known simply as Z. It was Z I had in mind when I created Professor Binns, a minor character in the novel I published last year. More than that I am not prepared to say; we all know how underpaid university lecturers are and I have no wish to be sued.

Atwood, Margaret http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/2007/1022-torontopressconf.html

Q: In honour of the international festival of authors, I was curious, considering all the authors that have done works for kids as well as adults, who would Harry’s ultimate favourite author be? Ron’s? Hermione’s?

JKR: Well Hermione I think would be into Margaret Attwood (sic). [all laugh] You know what, let’s be honest, Harry didn’t do a lot of reading except when he had to. [laughs] So I think to pick authors for either Harry and Ron if I’m absolutely honest, would be stretching a point a little bit, and it would be me being Hermioneish rather than truly reflective of their literatary tastes. Sorry.

Austen, Jane http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/1999/0099-amazon-staff.htm

Amazon.co.uk: What books do you enjoy reading?

Rowling: My favorite writer is Jane Austen and I’ve read all her books so many times I’ve lost count.

http://www.oprah.com/oprahsbookclub/jk-rowlings-favorite-books#ixzz4FjTgayQo

Virginia Woolf said of Austen, ‘For a great writer, she was the most difficult to catch in the act of greatness,’ which is a fantastic line. You’re drawn into the story, and you come out the other end, and you know you’ve seen something great in action. But you can’t see the pyrotechnics; there’s nothing flashy.

http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/2005/0805-girlguiding-blake.html

Blake: What is it about Jane Austen’s writing that you admire? If you could have met her – what would you ask her?

JKR: Virginia Woolf said that of all great writers, Austen was ‘the most difficult to catch in the act of greatness.’ Praise of her writing rarely conveys its extraordinary quality, but I think her characters are vividly alive, she had a wonderful facility for dialogue, a dry and sometimes scathing sense of humour and she crafted seamless plots with such lightness of touch it appears effortless. And speaking as someone who loves to pull the wool over her readers’ eyes, nobody has ever bettered the twist Austen managed in ‘Emma’ (I won’t give it away in case you haven’t read it). If I met her I would have to ask her how she managed to concentrate while sharing a room with her sister and mother, though I might have to point out that a toddler and Teletubbies is worse!

Ballard, J. G. J. J. Marsh — J. K. Rowling Interview, August 2013

The perennial literature debate flowered recently. How distinct is literary fction from genre fiction, in your view?
There has always been an overlap.  The late J. G. Ballard being the modern example that springs to mind; an outstanding writer who ‘transcended’ the science fiction genre.   I am pretty indifferent to the distinction between ‘literary’ and ‘genre’ fiction myself, and I hop pretty freely between the two as a reader without feeling remotely as though I am ‘slumming it’. 

Belloc, Hillaire http://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org/2004/12/19/j-k-rowling-and-once-upon-a-poem/

“Belloc is one of my favourite poets for his wit, his understatement, and his profundity- but, perhaps most of all, for the lion called Ponto who ate Jim.”

Benson, E. F. J. J. Marsh — J. K. Rowling Interview, August 2013

Are there any books you re-read?

Lots and lots.  When I’m working, I find it incredibly difficult to read new books (although when I’m between my own novels, I devour other people’s).  So if I’m writing, I re-read.  I’ve re-read all of Jane Austen so often I can actually visualize the type on the page; I love Colette, Katherine Mansfield, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, E. F. Benson and P. G. Wodehouse, all of whom are always beside my bed.  I read a lot of diaries and biographies, too; Chips Channon’s also a fixture on the bedside bookshelves, as is the afore-mentioned Secrets of the Flesh, and everything by Frances Donaldson is eminently re-readable.

Bronte, Emily http://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org/2006/01/31/j-k-rowling-recommends-list-of-classic-books-to-read/

Wuthering Heights was recommended for readers by Rowling on her list of “top books children should read,” a list requested by the Royal Society of Literature.

Bronte, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bront%C3%AB_family

Channon, Chips J. J. Marsh — J. K. Rowling Interview, August 2013

Are there any books you re-read?

Lots and lots.  When I’m working, I find it incredibly difficult to read new books (although when I’m between my own novels, I devour other people’s).  So if I’m writing, I re-read.  I’ve re-read all of Jane Austen so often I can actually visualize the type on the page; I love Colette, Katherine Mansfield, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, E. F. Benson and P. G. Wodehouse, all of whom are always beside my bed.  I read a lot of diaries and biographies, too; Chips Channon’s also a fixture on the bedside bookshelves, as is the afore-mentioned Secrets of the Flesh, and everything by Frances Donaldson is eminently re-readable.

Chaucer, Geoffrey http://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org/2007/7/30/j-k-rowling-web-chat-transcript

Jessie: Were the Deathly Hallows based on any realworld myth or faerie tale

J.K. Rowling: Perhaps ‘the Pardoner’s Tale’, by Chaucer.

Christie, Agatha Val McDermid Interviews Robert Galbraith at Harrosgate Festival

Val McDermid:  How did that love affair with crime start for you?
JKR:  Probably…I know I was reading Christies when I was quite young. All of the Big Four – Marsh, Allingham, Christie and Sayers – I’ve read and loved…. Christie who was someone who interested me a great deal because she was writing much of her career to outrun the tax man. Hence her incredibly patchy output. But she could shuffle those cards and fool you, couldn’t she? Again and again and again. Sometimes very plausibly, sometimes not so plausibly. But she had that almost mathematical ability to fool you. And that’s something not many could do as well as she did it. Although the quality of writing I know was patchy. My favorite Christie is Moving Finger which is a Miss Marple, but narrated by a man and she does it rather well….

Val McDermid: What I love about [Christie’s] The Murder in the Vicarage is the humor.

JKR: Yeah, she is. She’s very funny.

Colette http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/2001/1101-candis-renton.html

JR: Who are your favorite writers?

JKR: Of contemporary writers, I think Roddy Doyle is a genius. But my big three are Nabokov, Colette and Jane Austen. I read my favorite books over and over until they fall apart, literally.

http://www.oprah.com/oprahsbookclub/jk-rowlings-favorite-books#ixzz4FjTgayQo

I could never write the way Colette did. I’ve never found anything to match her descriptive passages, ever. She was a very sensual writer, and way beyond her time. Chéri is a love story between a very spoiled young man and his mistress who has “been there, done that.” He’s self-centered and vicious, and she ultimately turns out to be very noble. The final scene is incredibly moving; it makes me cry. I absolutely bow to Colette, but I think if she could hear me, she would probably tell me where to get lost, because she was that kind of woman.

Collins, Wilkie https://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/books/review/j-k-rowling-by-the-book.html

What was the last book you just couldn’t finish?

“Armadale,” by Wilkie Collins. Having loved “The Woman in White” and “The Moonstone,” I took it on tour with me to the United States in 2007 anticipating a real treat. The implausibility of the plot was so exasperating that I abandoned it mid-read, something I hardly ever do.

Conan Doyle, Sir Arthur J. J. Marsh — J. K. Rowling Interview, August 2013

The perennial literature debate flowered recently. How distinct is literary fction from genre fiction, in your view?
There has always been an overlap…. I am pretty indifferent to the distinction between ‘literary’ and ‘genre’ fiction myself, and I hop pretty freely between the two as a reader without feeling remotely as though I am ‘slumming it’.  So-called ‘genre’ fiction has given us deathless characters like Sherlock Holmes, Ford Prefect and James Bond, who have forever influenced our culture and language; what is there to be snobbish about?

Crispin, Edmund  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Moving_Toyshop

Culpeper, Nicholas 1999 60 Minutes Interview with Lesley Stahl, cf., Beatrice Groves on Plant Lore and The History of Magic Exhibit

“…[Culpeper’s Herbal] is so useful for me because I’m not a gardener – at all – and my knowledge of plants is not great and so I kind of collect, well, I used to collect names of plants that sounded witchy and then I found this Culpeper’s Complete Herbal and it was the answer to my every prayer: [flicking through] Flaxweed, Toadflax, Fleawort, Goutwort, Gromel, knot-grass, Mugwort… just everything you could possibly, you know, so when I’m potioning I get lost in this for an hour. And the great thing is that it actually does tell you what they used to believe it did, so you can really use the right things in the potions you’re making up. So that was a very handy book to find.”

Dahl, Roald http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/1999/1199-columbusdisp-gilson.html

 She also likes the writing of Roald Dahl, especially Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which she considers “his masterpiece.”

http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/2001/1001-sydney-renton.htm

People sometimes compare you to Roald Dahl.
I’ve been compared to him more than anyone else. I take it as a compliment. There are similarities in our humour sometimes. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and James And The Giant Peach are brilliant, but he’s not one of my favourite children’s writers. Our writing is really quite dissimilar. My books are ultimately more moral. An unfashionable word, but there you go. They’re not moralistic, but there is often a good-versus-evil subtext. They’re not absolutely black and white, though. Harry breaks a lot of rules. He’s not good in the Enid Blyton sense.

Defoe, Daniel http://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org/2006/01/31/j-k-rowling-recommends-list-of-classic-books-to-read/

Robinson Crusoe was recommended for readers by Rowling on her list of “top books children should read,” a list requested by the Royal Society of Literature.

Dickens, Charles 

The New Yorker: Mugglemarch

[About Rowling’s life as student at the University of Exeter,] her own memory is that she did “no work whatsoever.” She wore heavy eyeliner, listened to the Smiths, and read Dickens and Tolkien.

LeakyCauldron: J. K. Rowling Recommends Books to Read

David Copperfield was recommended for readers by Rowling on her list of “top books children should read,” a list requested by the Royal Society of Literature.

http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/2003/0616-scotsman-mcginty.html

During this time [in Paris as a student-teacher, Rowling] read Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, a literary discovery that may have influenced her alleged intention to kill off Harry Potter at the end of book seven. The death of Charles Darnay, sacrificing his life for a friend, and his moving last words had a major impact on Rowling: “It is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”

https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10000872396390444004704578032292614732704

The author on which fellow scribe, living or dead, she would most like to meet and have dinner with

“I went through all sorts of people in my mind, all my favorite writers. And then I had to focus on who I’m having dinner with. I thought of P.G. Wodehouse—but then if you read his letters, he only cared about writing and Pekingese dogs. And I’m no Pekingese. So I think we’d have struggled to stretch out light conversation over three courses. So I discounted P.G., with regret. Oh, and I discounted Jane Austen, who is on some days my favorite author of all time, because I think she’d be a bit scary. Was it Emily Brontë who said she had a mind like a small pair of scissors?

It came down to a two-way contest: Colette and Dickens. Colette is terrifying. But if she were in a mellow mood, and prepared to tell the truth about her life, you would have the most fascinating dinner in the history of the world. But then, Dickens also had an amazing life, and I’ve just got a feeling that I would have a very good time with Charles Dickens. And he was a performer, wasn’t he? I think he could be phenomenal company. So I think by a nose I would choose Charles Dickens, because you might get to ask questions and see the real person. With Colette you might get past the starter and realize, ‘This is a catastrophe, why didn’t I choose Charles?’ “

Donaldson, Frances J. J. Marsh — J. K. Rowling Interview, August 2013

Are there any books you re-read?

Lots and lots.  When I’m working, I find it incredibly difficult to read new books (although when I’m between my own novels, I devour other people’s).  So if I’m writing, I re-read.  I’ve re-read all of Jane Austen so often I can actually visualize the type on the page; I love Colette, Katherine Mansfield, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, E. F. Benson and P. G. Wodehouse, all of whom are always beside my bed.  I read a lot of diaries and biographies, too; Chips Channon’s also a fixture on the bedside bookshelves, as is the afore-mentioned Secrets of the Flesh, and everything by Frances Donaldson is eminently re-readable.

Doyle, Roddy http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/1999/0099-amazon-staff.htm

My favorite living writer is Roddy Doyle, who I think is a genius.

http://www.oprah.com/oprahsbookclub/jk-rowlings-favorite-books#ixzz4FjTgayQo

I love all his books. I often talk about him and Jane Austen in the same breath. I think people are slightly mystified by that because superficially they’re such different writers. But they both have a very unsentimental approach to human nature. They can be profoundly moving without ever becoming mawkish.

Eliot, George  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Eliot

Ephron, Nora The author of the line in question in the tweets below is Nora Ephron, screenwriter for ‘When Harry Met Sally.’ To see and hear Carrie Fischer deliver the line, go here. Hat-tip, Beatrice Groves.

Fleming, Ian    J. J. Marsh — J. K. Rowling Interview, August 2013

The perennial literature debate flowered recently. How distinct is literary fction from genre fiction, in your view?
There has always been an overlap…. I am pretty indifferent to the distinction between ‘literary’ and ‘genre’ fiction myself, and I hop pretty freely between the two as a reader without feeling remotely as though I am ‘slumming it’.  So-called ‘genre’ fiction has given us deathless characters like Sherlock Holmes, Ford Prefect and James Bond, who have forever influenced our culture and language; what is there to be snobbish about?

Fraser, Henry https://www.rowlingindex.org/work/fwlbt/ ‘The Little Big Things’

And so, with a shared agent as my excuse, I got in touch with Henry. We chatted online for a while and finally met at his first art exhibition, which documented his mouth-painting journey from first drawings to beautiful, fully realised paintings. He made a speech that night that will, I’m sure, have stayed with everyone who heard it. His honesty, his modesty, the unflinching way he described both his accident and the way he had adapted to and was making the most of a life he had not expected, were astonishing.

Frayn, Michael https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Towards_the_End_of_the_Morning

Freud, Clement http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/1999/0099-amazon-staff.htm

The third is Grimble, by Clement Freud. Grimble is one of funniest books I’ve ever read, and Grimble himself, who is a small boy, is a fabulous character. I’d love to see a Grimble film.

Gallico, Paul http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/1999/0099-amazon-staff.htm

The second is Manxmouse by Paul Gallico, which is not Gallico’s most famous book, but I think it’s wonderful. 

http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/2001/1001-sydney-renton.htm

What were your favourite books as a child?
Noel Streatfield’s Ballet Shoes. Elizabeth Goudge’s The Little White Horse. That was my favourite childhood book. I adored that book. I also loved Paul Gallico, especially Manx Mouse. That’s a great book. Gallico manages the fine line between magic and reality so skilfully, to the point where the most fantastic events feel plausible.

Gaskell, Elizabeth https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/2012/09/25/j-k-rowling-harry-potter-the-casual-vacancy/1578249/

Rowling says she’s flattered but “uncomfortable if anyone thinks I’m walking around thinking myself the new Dickens. I think that’s presumptuous of anyone, but I was conscious when I started writing The Casual Vacancy of what I wanted it to be. I did want it to be like a Trollope or a Dickens or Mrs. Gaskell in the sense that I’m taking a small community, literally a parochial community, and trying to analyze it and anatomize it in the way that they did. I really like those 19th-century novels. That’s the kind of thing I love reading.”

Goodwin, Doris Kearns https://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/books/review/j-k-rowling-by-the-book.html

What was the last truly great book you read? 

“Team of Rivals,” by Doris Kearns Goodwin. I lived in it the way that you do with truly great books; putting it down with glazed eyes and feeling disconcerted to find yourself in the 21st century. I met the author at a reception in the American Embassy in London last year, and I was so excited that I was bobbing up and down on the spot like a 5-year-old.

Goudge, Elizabeth http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/1999/0099-amazon-staff.htm

One is The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge, which was probably my favorite book when I was younger. 

http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/1999/1199-columbusdisp-gilson.html

“And I suppose the one book that very much influenced Harry Potter was Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge . . . I liked all the food descriptions and I try to put lots of descriptions about meals into all the Harry books.”

Grahame, Kenneth https://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/books/review/j-k-rowling-by-the-book.html

My most vivid memory of being read to is my father reading “The Wind in the Willows” when I was around 4 and suffering from the measles. In fact, that’s all I remember about having the measles: Ratty, Mole and Badger.

Hanff, Helene https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/84,_Charing_Cross_Road

Heller, Joseph http://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org/2006/01/31/j-k-rowling-recommends-list-of-classic-books-to-read/

Catch-22 was recommended for readers by Rowling on her list of “top books children should read,” a list requested by the Royal Society of Literature.

Heyer, Georgette J. J. Marsh — J. K. Rowling Interview, August 2013

I know I read Little Women when I was eight, because we moved house shortly afterwards, when I was nine. Naturally, I whole-heartedly identified with Jo March, she of the burning literary ambition and short temper. My mother had everything Georgette Heyer ever wrote, so I whipped through those, too, when I was a pre-teen, and I FINALLY found a plain heroine there, too (Phoebe, in ‘Sylvester’, who also – hooray! – happened to be a writer).

Holland, Tom  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Holland_(author)#Historical_non-fiction_books

Homer https://ew.com/books/2000/08/04/jk-rowling-harry-potter-and-goblet-fire/

EW: Saving Cedric’s body reminded me of the Hector Patroclus Achilles triangle in the ”Iliad.”
JKR: That’s where it came from. That really, really, REALLY moved me when I read that when I was 19. The idea of the desecration of a body, a very ancient idea… I was thinking of that when Harry saved Cedric’s body.

James, P. D. Val McDermid Interviews Robert Galbraith at Harrosgate Festival

Val McDermid:  How did that love affair with crime start for you?
JKR:  Probably…I know I was reading Christies when I was quite young. All of the Big Four – Marsh, Allingham, Christie and Sayers – I’ve read and loved. …. I read loads of contemporary crime writers. (“Genuinely,” she whispers to McDermid, “you are probably my favorite”)… P. D. James, Ruth Rendell…

See also the discussion here at HogwartsProfessor of P. D. James and her ‘Cordelia Gray’ books.

I’ve always loved detective fiction, Agatha Christie, Ruth Rendell, Margery Allingham and PD James, I love them all.

Kafka, Franz

Lee, Harper http://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org/2006/01/31/j-k-rowling-recommends-list-of-classic-books-to-read/

To Kill a Mockingbird was recommended for readers by Rowling on her list of “top books children should read,” a list requested by the Royal Society of Literature.

Lewis, Clive Staples http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/1998/0798-telegraph-bertodano.html

As for the Enid Blyton books, Rowling says she read them all, but was never tempted to go back to them, whereas she would read and re-read Lewis. “Even now, if I was in a room with one of the Narnia books I would pick it up like a shot and re-read it.”

http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/1999/0399-barnesandnoble.html

Who are some of your favorite heroes and heroines in children’s literature? Why?

I really like Eustace in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis (third in the Narnia series). He is a very unlikeable character who turns good. He is one of C. S. Lewis’s funniest characters, and I like him a lot.

http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/1998/1198-australian-blakeney.html

“Fantasy is not my favourite genre. Although I love C. S. Lewis, I have a problem with his imitators.” At 33, Rowling still re-reads The Chronicles of Narnia, famous for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (she likes The Voyage of the Dawn Treader best)

https://www.rowlingindex.org/work/70bks/

One of my fondest memories of my eldest daughter at age five involved ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ by C.S. Lewis. I used to balance the book on top of a very tall standard lamp to prevent her reading on before the next bedtime. One day, while I was safely in the kitchen, she clambered up a set of shelves to reach the book, gulped down the next two chapters and then, hearing my footsteps, hastily returned it to its perch on top of the lamp. I only rumbled her because she showed absolutely no surprise when, during that night’s reading, Eustace, the hero, turned into a dragon.

http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/2001/1001-sydney-renton.htm

I found myself thinking about the wardrobe route to Narnia [in the CS Lewis series including The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe] when Harry is told he has to hurl himself at a barrier in Kings Cross Station – it dissolves and he’s on platform Nine and Three-Quarters, and there’s the train for Hogwarts.

Narnia is literally a different world, whereas in the Harry books you go into a world within a world that you can see if you happen to belong. A lot of the humour comes from collisions between the magic and the everyday worlds. Generally there isn’t much humour in the Narnia books, although I adored them when I was a child. I got so caught up I didn’t think C. S. Lewis was especially preachy. Reading them now I find that his subliminal message isn’t very subliminal at all.

Really, C. S. Lewis had very different objectives to mine. When I write, I don’t intend to make a point or teach philosophy of life. A problem you run into with a series is how the characters grow up … whether they’re allowed to grow up. The characters in Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books act in a prepubescent way right through the series. In the Narnia books the children are never allowed to grow up, even though they are growing older.

McDermid, Val https://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/books/review/j-k-rowling-by-the-book.html

What do you plan to read next?

There are three books that I need to read for research sitting on my desk, but for pleasure, because I love a good whodunit and she’s a master, I’m going to read “The Vanishing Point” by Val McDermid.

Val McDermid Interviews Robert Galbraith at Harrosgate Festival

Val McDermid:  How did that love affair with crime start for you?
JKR:  Probably…I know I was reading Christies when I was quite young. All of the Big Four – Marsh, Allingham, Christie and Sayers – I’ve read and loved. …. I read loads of contemporary crime writers. (“Genuinely,” she whispers to McDermid, “you are probably my favorite.”)… P. D. James, Ruth Rendell…

Mansfield, Katherine

Marsh, Ngaio 

Val McDermid Interviews Robert Galbraith at Harrosgate Festival

Val McDermid:  How did that love affair with crime start for you?
JKR:  Probably…I know I was reading Christies when I was quite young. All of the Big Four – Marsh, Allingham, Christie and Sayers – I’ve read and loved….

V: … and that makes it completely yours. And I wonder if that’s something you’re conscious of…whether you’re…I mean, because sometimes I read it very consciously and think, that’s a very clever trick, I’m going to remember how she did that.

JK: Well, with whodunnits, I certainly do…that’s probably the genre where I have done that most. You notice things. You notice tics and tricks. In Ngaio Marsh, you’re never the murderer if you’ve got long thin fingers. She obviously had a thing about hands. And you’re always innocent if you’ve got pretty hands in Ngaio Marsh. You start rolling your eyes when you hear about someone’s long fingers. You think, “Well, it’s not them, that’s one suspect down…” Never failed me.

HogwartsProfessor: Hidden Clues at Rowling Website #2

[Rowling embedded a picture of Marsh’s Off With Their Heads! on her website home page.]

J. J. Marsh — J. K. Rowling Interview, August 2013

Are there any books you re-read?

Lots and lots.  When I’m working, I find it incredibly difficult to read new books (although when I’m between my own novels, I devour other people’s).  So if I’m writing, I re-read.  I’ve re-read all of Jane Austen so often I can actually visualize the type on the page; I love Colette, Katherine Mansfield, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, E. F. Benson and P. G. Wodehouse, all of whom are always beside my bed.  I read a lot of diaries and biographies, too; Chips Channon’s also a fixture on the bedside bookshelves, as is the afore-mentioned Secrets of the Flesh, and everything by Frances Donaldson is eminently re-readable.

McGarvey, Darren https://www.rowlingindex.org/work/cqps/, Wiki Page for ‘Loki (rapper)’ 

Part memoir, part polemic, [McGarvey’s Poverty Safari] is a suave, wise and witty tour-de-force. An unflinching account of the realities of systemic poverty. Poverty Safari lays down challenges to both the left and right. It is hard to think of a more timely, powerful or necessary book.

Miller, Madeline https://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/books/review/j-k-rowling-by-the-book.html

What’s the best book you read this summer?

I loved “The Song of Achilles,” by Madeline Miller.

An interview with J. K. Rowling — who longs to have dinner with Colette…

What are you reading now?

I’ve just finished The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller. I saw her interviewed, and I got a bit of a girl-crush on her — so I wanted to read that, and I liked it a lot.

Mitford, Jessica Fraser, Lindsay. “Harry Potter – Harry and me,” The Scotsman, November 2002

My most influential writer, without a doubt, is Jessica Mitford. When my great-aunt gave me Hons and Rebels when I was 14, she instantly became my heroine. She ran away from home to fight in the Spanish Civil War, taking with her a camera that she had charged to her father’s account. I wished I’d had the nerve to do something like that. I love the way she never outgrew some of her adolescent traits, remaining true to her politics – she was a self-taught socialist – throughout her life. I think I’ve read everything she wrote. I even called my daughter after her. 

J. J. Marsh — J. K. Rowling Interview, August 2013

Is there a book that changed your life? If so, how?

Well, setting aside the obvious answer (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) I’d have to go for Jessica Mitford’s Hons and Rebels.  My great aunt thought that Jessica Mitford was a simply deplorable character (Mitford ran away from her upper class family to become a Communist and join the war against Franco in the 1930s), and I overheard her telling my mother all about her, when I was fourteen. I showed interest, so Auntie Ivy gave me an old copy of Mitford’s autobiography, glad, no doubt, to get it off her respectable bookshelves.  It was a most dangerous book to give to a dissatisfied, left-leaning teenager; Jessica Mitford immediately became my heroine. I read everything she’d ever written and ended up naming my eldest daughter after her.

Mythology, British  http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/2005/1205-bbc-fry.html

SF: These are all real and a lot of children will, of course, imagine you made them up completely.

JKR: I’ve taken horrible liberties with folklore and mythology, but I’m quite unashamed about that, because British folklore and British mythology is a totally bastard mythology. You know, we’ve been invaded by people, we’ve appropriated their gods, we’ve taken their mythical creatures, and we’ve soldered them all together to make, what I would say, is one of the richest folklores in the world, because it’s so varied. So I feel no compunction about borrowing from that freely, but adding a few things of my own.

Nabokov, Vladimir http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/2001/1001-sydney-renton.htm

Who are your favourite writers now?
Jane Austen, Nabokov, Colette.

http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/2000/0500-heraldsun-templeton.html

But, most surprisingly, the single-mother chose Vladimir Nabakov’s Lolita, the controversial tale of a paedophile’s love for a 12-year-old girl whose life he ruins through abuse, as one of her favourite novels.

Speaking in a rare interview for a new Radio 4 series about famous people’s favourite books, she confides: “There are two books whose final lines make me cry without fail, irrespective of how many times I read them, and one is Lolita. There is so much I could say about this book.

“There just isn’t enough time to discuss how a plot that could have been the most worthless pornography becomes, in Nabakov’s hands, a great and tragic love story, and I could exhaust my reservoir of superlatives trying to describe the quality of the writing.”

HogwartsProfessor: Why Nabokov Would Have Liked Harry Potter (Michael Maar)

There is one more reason why Nabokov would have liked Harry Potter. Admittedly, it is a bad reason, but even a Nabokov would not be immune to flattery. “The writer I really love,” says Rowling in an interview with Thomas Bodmer, “the one I really love is Nabokov. Lolita is probably my favorite novel of the twentieth century: he has everything, he is comical, tragic… There are two books whose last page makes me cry even if I haven’t re-read the previous pages. One of them is Lolita. It always works.” 

Nesbit, E. https://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/books/review/j-k-rowling-by-the-book.html

What were your favorite books as a child?

… everything by E. Nesbit;

http://www.oprah.com/oprahsbookclub/jk-rowlings-favorite-books#ixzz4FjTgayQo

She’s the children’s writer with whom I most identify. She said, ‘By some lucky chance, I remember exactly how I felt and thought at 11.’ That struck a chord with me. The Story of the Treasure Seekers was a breakthrough children’s book. Oswald is such a very real narrator, at a time when most people were writing morality plays for children.

Okwonga, Musa   https://www.nytimes.com/by/musa-okwonga

Orwell, George http://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org/2006/01/31/j-k-rowling-recommends-list-of-classic-books-to-read/

Animal Farm was recommended for readers by Rowling on her list of “top books children should read,” a list requested by the Royal Society of Literature.

Penn, William   http://www.mtv.com/news/1572107/harry-potter-author-jk-rowling-opens-up-about-books-christian-imagery/

“Deathly Hallows” itself begins with two religiously themed epigraphs, one from “The Libation Bearers” by Aeschylus, which calls on the gods to “bless the children”; and one from William Penn’s “More Fruits of Solitude,” which speaks of death as but “crossing the world, as friends do the seas.” No other book in the series begins with epigraphs — a curious fact, perhaps, but one that Rowling insists served as a guiding light.

“I really enjoyed choosing those two quotations because one is pagan, of course, and one is from a Christian tradition,” Rowling said of their inclusion. “I’d known it was going to be those two passages since ‘Chamber’ was published. I always knew [that] if I could use them at the beginning of book seven then I’d cued up the ending perfectly. If they were relevant, then I went where I needed to go.

“They just say it all to me, they really do,” she added.

Potter, Beatrix http://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org/2006/01/31/j-k-rowling-recommends-list-of-classic-books-to-read/

A Tale of Two Bad Mice was recommended for readers by Rowling on her list of “top books children should read,” a list requested by the Royal Society of Literature.

Potter, Dennis https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dennis_Potter

Powell, Anthony

Prevost, Antoine François http://ericawagner.co.uk/an-interview-with-j-k-rowling-who-longs-to-have-dinner-with-colette/

What book changed your life?

There are so many. But the weird thing is that the book that immediately leapt to mind was Manon Lescaut, by [18th-century author] Abbé Prévost. And I haven’t read that book for 27 years! But I’m going to give that as my answer, because I think my subconscious is quite right. I studied it as part of my degree, so I was about 19 or 20, and it’s stuck with me — for ever. Fundamentally it’s a tale of obsessive love. What I took from it was how much of love is illusion. I’ve seen that proven in my life ever since. And it’s always that book I return to in my mind, when I watch that happen. Isn’t that what a really great book does? It becomes part of the furniture in your head.

Rankin, Ian https://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/mediapacks/strike-evil/jk

London’s changed dramatically over the last 20 years. Did it give you much more of a scope than any other city in the UK?
JKR: There are other cities. I lived in Manchester for a while and loved it, and obviously I live in Edinburgh. Edinburgh’s too small to support two fictional detectives, and Ian Rankin got there ahead of me. Rebus reigns supreme in Edinburgh and that’s as it should be. I knew I wasn’t going to have it based in Edinburgh.

See also: https://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/ian-rankin-and-cormoran-strike/

Rendell, Ruth

 Val McDermid Interviews Robert Galbraith at Harrosgate Festival

Val McDermid:  How did that love affair with crime start for you?
JKR:  Probably…I know I was reading Christies when I was quite young. All of the Big Four – Marsh, Allingham, Christie and Sayers – I’ve read and loved. …. I read loads of contemporary crime writers. (“Genuinely,” she whispers to McDermid, “you are probably my favorite”)…P. D. James, Ruth Rendell

I’ve always loved detective fiction, Agatha Christie, Ruth Rendell, Margery Allingham and PD James, I love them all.

Salinger, J. D. http://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org/2006/01/31/j-k-rowling-recommends-list-of-classic-books-to-read/

A Catcher in the Rye was recommended for readers by Rowling on her list of “top books children should read,” a list requested by the Royal Society of Literature.

Sanghera, Sathnam https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sathnam_Sanghera

Sayers, Dorothy http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/2005/0705-tlc_mugglenet-anelli-3.htm

JKR: There’s a theory – this applies to detective novels, and then Harry, which is not really a detective novel, but it feels like one sometimes – that you should not have romantic intrigue in a detective book. Dorothy L. Sayers, who is queen of the genre said — and then broke her own rule, but said — that there is no place for romance in a detective story except that it can be useful to camouflage other people’s motives. That’s true; it is a very useful trick. I’ve used that on Percy and I’ve used that to a degree on Tonks in this book, as a red herring. But having said that, I disagree inasmuch as mine are very character-driven books, and it’s so important, therefore, that we see these characters fall in love, which is a necessary part of life.”

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/10/01/mugglemarch?currentPage=all

In Britain, Ian Rankin typically publishes a new novel in October, and it tends to go to the top of the best-seller list. He said that, this year, his publisher moved the date to November, fearing that the late-September launch of “The Casual Vacancy” will, for weeks, render all other fiction invisible to readers and to the media. Rankin was taken aback but glad for the extra writing time. He wondered if “The Casual Vacancy” might have a whodunnit air; Rowling has talked to him of her admiration for British crime writing of the nineteen-twenties and thirties. “She loves Margery Allingham and Dorothy L. Sayers,” he said, adding that the Pagford setting had relieved him of his greatest fear: that Rowling had been working on a crime novel set in Edinburgh. He said, “I hope she’ll create an English village that she will know intimately—and it will be real to us.”

Val McDermid Interviews Robert Galbraith at Harrosgate Festival

Val McDermid:  How did that love affair with crime start for you?
JKR:  Probably…I know I was reading Christies when I was quite young. All of the Big Four – Marsh, Allingham, Christie and Sayers – I’ve read and loved….

V: Tell me … please tell me we’re not going to have to fawn over Peter Wimsey. ‘Cuz he has a face I would never tire of slapping.

JK: Oh, thank God. Thank God you say that. He irritates the hell out of me. He’s so facetious. If he came out with another quotation, I’d brain him. “I know you’ve read a lot of books, Peter; shut up.” Yes, he’s very irritating, and yet, she could write. And some of what she wrote was great, and some of what she…I think she knew it about herself. She can’t resist showing how clever she is, and that’s never a very endearing quality as a writer.

Schumer, Amy

Sewell, Anna https://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/books/review/j-k-rowling-by-the-book.html

What were your favorite books as a child?

…“Black Beauty,” by Anna Sewell …

Shakespeare, William  http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/2005/0705-tlc_mugglenet-anelli-3.htm

JKR: It’s the “Macbeth” idea. I absolutely adore “Macbeth.” It is possibly my favorite Shakespeare play. And that’s the question isn’t it? If Macbeth hadn’t met the witches, would he have killed Duncan? Would any of it have happened? Is it fated or did he make it happen? I believe he made it happen.

LeakyCauldron: JKR Recommends Books to Read

Hamlet was recommended for readers by Rowling on her list of “top books children should read,” a list requested by the Royal Society of Literature.

New York Times: J. K. Rowling By the Book

If you could bring only three books to a desert island, which would you pack?

JKR: Collected works of Shakespeare (not cheating — I’ve got a single volume of them); collected works of P. G. Wodehouse (two volumes, but I’m sure I could find one); collected works of Colette.

Sharratt, Nick https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nick_Sharratt

Shukla, Nikesh https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Good_Immigrant

Smith, Dodie Business Insider: J. K. Rowling’s Favorite Books 2016 (J. K. Rowling Original Website link)

Rowling calls “I Capture the Castle” one of her “favourite books for younger people.” It’s about a 17-year-old girl who lives in a castle with her family. In a recent edition of the novel, Rowling blurbed it, saying its narrator, Cassandra, is “one of the most charismatic narrators I’ve ever met.” 

Stratton-Porter, Gene  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_Stratton-Porter

Streatfield, Noel https://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/books/review/j-k-rowling-by-the-book.html

What were your favorite books as a child?

…everything by Noel Streatfeild…

Tarrt, Donna ‘What Was the Name of that Nymph Again?” (1998)

“By happy chance, Donna Tartt chose this very gobbet to preface her novel The Secret History, which I have read.” 

Thompson, Harry https://medium.com/@adeelamini/the-adeel-amini-jk-rowling-interview-a05a62071458

At this point an hour has passed – far more time than we were to be granted in the first place. I begin some quick-fire questions, though Rowling’s penchant for long, but nonetheless engaging, diatribes prevents them from being just that. The last thing she read, I ask? “He died tragically but it was Harry Thompson’s This Thing of Darkness. That was the last contemporary thing I read. Very, very good.”

Thurman, Judith https://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/books/review/j-k-rowling-by-the-book.html

“[Colette’s] biography, “Secrets of the Flesh,” by Judith Thurman, is one of my all-time favorites.”

Tolkien, J. R. R. https://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/tolkien-and-rowling-a-case-for-text-only/

Rowling does her best when questioned about Tolkien to downplay the obvious connection between Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter novels. She usually, however, includes at least a back-handed compliment to JRRT in the process. See Maureen Lamson, writing as ‘Felicity,’ and her comprehensive survey of JKR quotations about Tolkien here.

Tolstoy, Leo

Townsend, Sue  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sue_Townsend

Trollope, Anthony https://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/books/review/j-k-rowling-by-the-book.html

If your new book, “The Casual Vacancy,” were to be compared to another book, author or series in your dream book review, what would it be?

“The Casual Vacancy” consciously harked back to the 19th-century traditions of Trollope, Dickens and Gaskell; an analysis of a small, literally parochial society. Any review that made reference to any of those writers would delight me.

Vonnegut, Jr., Kurt https://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/books/review/j-k-rowling-by-the-book.html

What books have your own children introduced you to recently? Or you to them?

I recently started pressing Kurt Vonnegut Jr. on my elder daughter, who is a scientist.

Waugh, Auberon https://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/books/review/j-k-rowling-by-the-book.html

The last book that made you laugh?

“The Diaries of Auberon Waugh.” It’s in my bathroom, and it’s always good for a giggle.

Webb, Robert https://www.rowlingindex.org/work/cqhnbb/ ‘How Not to be a Boy’

“Quite simply brilliant. I (genuinely) cried. I (genuinely) laughted [sic] out loud. I loved it.”

White, T.H. http://books.guardian.co.uk/authors/author/0,5917,412962,00.html

“Rowling has described Wart from TH White’s The Sword In The Stone as ‘Harry’s spiritual ancestor’.”

Whitman, Walt   HogwartsProfessor: Rowling’s Favorite Poem Found in Oz

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2009/jul/15/whitman-rowling-celebrity-endorsements;

Rowling has revealed that her favourite poem is Whitman’s “Of the terrible doubt of appearances” from his collection Leaves of Grass

Willans, Geoffrey and Ronald Searle https://www.rowlingindex.org/work/wnna/

“It was then that I turned thoughtfully towards the Classics department. Somewhere along those unknown corridors, it was whispered, lurked a subsidiary course which went by the name of “Greek and Roman Studies,” and the word on the street was that one did not need any Greek or Latin to join up. This was fortunate, as my Latin consisted of the word cave, which I had gleaned from the Molesworth books.”

See also: https://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/whence-hogwarts-rowling-molesworth-influence-and-intertextuality/

Wodehouse, P. G. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/books/review/j-k-rowling-by-the-book.html;

If you could meet any writer, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you want to know?

I took this question so seriously I lost hours to it. I went through all of my favorite writers, discarding them for various reasons: P. G. Wodehouse, for instance, was so shy that it might be a very awkward meeting. Judging by his letters, his main interests were Pekingese dogs and writing methodology. As I don’t own a Peke I’ve got a feeling we’d just discuss laptops rather than exploring the secrets of his genius.

New York Times: J. K. Rowling By the Book

If you could bring only three books to a desert island, which would you pack?

JKR: Collected works of Shakespeare (not cheating — I’ve got a single volume of them); collected works of P. G. Wodehouse (two volumes, but I’m sure I could find one); collected works of Colette.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. I have three morning additions to bring us to 61 ‘Literary Likes’ —

    (1) Rankin, Ian https://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/mediapacks/strike-evil/jk

    London’s changed dramatically over the last 20 years. Did it give you much more of a scope than any other city in the UK?
    There are other cities. I lived in Manchester for a while and loved it, and obviously I live in Edinburgh. Edinburgh’s too small to support two fictional detectives, and Ian Rankin got there ahead of me. Rebus reigns supreme in Edinburgh and that’s as it should be. I knew I wasn’t going to have it based in Edinburgh.

    See also: https://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/ian-rankin-and-cormoran-strike/

    (2) Prevost, Antoine François http://ericawagner.co.uk/an-interview-with-j-k-rowling-who-longs-to-have-dinner-with-colette/

    What book changed your life?

    There are so many. But the weird thing is that the book that immediately leapt to mind was Manon Lescaut, by [18th-century author] Abbé Prévost. And I haven’t read that book for 27 years! But I’m going to give that as my answer, because I think my subconscious is quite right. I studied it as part of my degree, so I was about 19 or 20, and it’s stuck with me — for ever. Fundamentally it’s a tale of obsessive love. What I took from it was how much of love is illusion. I’ve seen that proven in my life ever since. And it’s always that book I return to in my mind, when I watch that happen. Isn’t that what a really great book does? It becomes part of the furniture in your head.

    (3) Willans, Geoffrey and Ronald Searle https://www.rowlingindex.org/work/wnna/

    “It was then that I turned thoughtfully towards the Classics department. Somewhere along those unknown corridors, it was whispered, lurked a subsidiary course which went by the name of “Greek and Roman Studies,” and the word on the street was that one did not need any Greek or Latin to join up. This was fortunate, as my Latin consisted of the word cave, which I had gleaned from the Molesworth books.”

    See also: https://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/whence-hogwarts-rowling-molesworth-influence-and-intertextuality/

    Where did I find these? My own ‘Twelve Rowling Story Sources for Potter Pundits’ (2017), a pdf list that has a lot more urls for references to a fifth of the authors collected above if you’re interested.

  2. For those searching for Rowling interview references to Spenser, Ibsen, and Blue Oyster Cult or any of the Strike epigraph writers, first of all, “Thank you!” for joining in this effort.

    Second, please add Victor Hugo, Robert Louis Stevenson, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Thomas Hardy, George Eliot, Ariosto, Dante, Eve Carter, and John Bunyan to your searches. I’m confident they’re out there somewhere…

  3. Beatrice Groves says

    This is a fantastic resource John – thank you so much for making it!

    The best place for additions comes from her quite frequent use of quotations in tweets – and these do indeed include George Eliot! They also include: Virginia Woolf, Anne Frank, Lewis Carroll, Emily Dickinson and Edith Sitwell. She has also mentioned in tweets enjoying Nora Ephron. And in the interview with The Student all those years ago she mentioned reading with great pleasure Harry Thompson’s This Thing of Darkness. And there are a few more I mention in Literary Allusion in HP – such as studying William Golding at school and really enjoying Stella Gibbons and reading the name Dumbledore in Thomas Hardy.

  4. I will find and post the Golding, Gibbons, and Hardy references in ‘Literary Allusion’ — thank you for that!

    Do you have urls for the tweeted references you mention?

  5. (*) Hardy, Thomas https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00949j1 (12:20 in recording; cf., Groves, Literary Allusion in Harry Potter, p xi)

    You obviously have an enormous enjoyment of words for their own sakes…. What about Dumbledore, the paternalistic headmaster? That’s a wonderful name.

    Dumbledore came straight out of Thomas Hardy. Dumbledore is used in The Mayor of Casterbridge as a dialect word meaning ‘bumblebee.’ And I loved that word.

    I’m going to give this reference an asterisk entry because it doesn’t say that she liked Thomas Hardy, only that she’d read him. She comes closer I think to admiration in a quotation I’m struggling to find in which she says if a reviewer were to mention Hardy, Eliot, and Gaskell in their comments about Casual Vacancy she’d be flattered.

    I’m going to pass on the memory of one of Rowling’s Wyedean English teachers that her class had read Lord of the Flies by Golding, lest I also have to include Steve Eddy’s memory that he taught her a longer list: “He recalled that the class read Stan Barstow’s “Joby”—a realist story about a working-class Northern boy—as well as “The Weirdstone of Brisingamen,” by Alan Garner (a wizard, dwarfs, witches), and “A Wizard of Earthsea,” by Ursula K. Le Guin, whose hero attends a school for wizards.” Same for the quotation from Cold Comfort Farm…

    On to the tweets!

  6. (4) Thompson, Harry https://medium.com/@adeelamini/the-adeel-amini-jk-rowling-interview-a05a62071458 (cf., Beatrice Groves above)

    At this point an hour has passed – far more time than we were to be granted in the first place. I begin some quick-fire questions, though Rowling’s penchant for long, but nonetheless engaging, diatribes prevents them from being just that. The last thing she read, I ask? “He died tragically but it was Harry Thompson’s This Thing of Darkness. That was the last contemporary thing I read. Very, very good.”

  7. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    This is indeed excellent (and a jolly Gregorian Christmas present) – many thanks!

    Are “the Molesworth books” (I ask, lazily) really the only ‘school stories’ we know she likes?

  8. Beatrice Groves makes a strong case, I think, that Rowling is more than just familiar with Kipling’s ‘Stalky & Company.’ And you’re mentioned, David Dodd, in that piece!

    Rowling has, however, to my knowledge, never mentioned Kipling with admiration in an interview beyond the movie made from his ‘The Man Who Would be King.’ Enid Blyton and Barry Hines have been mentioned, too, as authors she has read, but never with anything like a recommendation, so I have left them as with Kipling off the list though they qualify I think as “compost pile” influences.

  9. Beatrice Groves says

    Here is the Nora Ephron appreciation tweet. Her interlocutor has deleted her tweets, meaning that Ephron is no longer named (although she was originally) but as she is the author of Heartburn and Rowling’s original quotation, JKR’s admiration for Ephron as a writer, as well as a scriptwriter, remains clear:
    https://twitter.com/jk_rowling/status/1250046838054535168

  10. Because tweets do not show well in the comment threads, I have entered this in the post above (with a link to the scene in ‘When Harry Met Sally’ in which Carrie Fischer delivers the Ephron line). Thank you, Prof Groves!

  11. Beatrice Groves says

    My pleasure John.

    Three more for you: I cite in the intro to Literary Allusion her comment that ‘I love those nineteenth-century novels, you know, I like Trollope and Gaskell and Dickens, where you anatomise and analyse a small society’ (2012) – which adds Trollope & Gaskell to your list (it can be found in her interview with Mark Lawson, Frontrow, 27 Sept 2012. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01mx27g )

    And while it is clear that she enjoys Culpeper mostly for his practical use to her potion ingredients, I think there is enough evidence in my blog below – e.g. ‘what [Culpeper was] saying, I found it inspirational, I found the way they talked about these plants inspirational’ – to get him included too:
    http://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org/2018/10/04/harry-potter-a-history-of-magic-and-plant-lore-part-one-j-k-rowling-and-culpepers-complete-herbal/

  12. Beatrice Groves says

    Another two? In ‘What was the name of that Nymph again?’ she mentions ‘fond memories of The Frogs’ – so that’s appreciation of Aristophanes; and ‘a thrilling tale of kidnap starring one Persephone ‘ which we can presume is an appreciation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The story is told by Homer and Hesiod too – but given that we know from allusive evidence that it is Ovid that has stuck with her most, I think that is a fair guess….

  13. Four additions courtesy of Prof Groves above!

    (1) Aristophanes, ‘The Frogs’ https://www.rowlingindex.org/work/wnna/

    Greek and Roman Studies gave me a few things I value even more highly than my fond memories of The Frogs: two of the best friends I ever made at university, for instance, and the unforgettable experience of being lectured to by a person best known simply as Z. It was Z I had in mind when I created Professor Binns, a minor character in the novel I published last year. More than that I am not prepared to say; we all know how underpaid university lecturers are and I have no wish to be sued.

    (2) Culpeper, Nicholas 1999 60 Minutes Interview with Lesley Stahl, cf., Beatrice Groves on Plant Lore and The History of Magic Exhibit

    “…[Culpeper’s Herbal] is so useful for me because I’m not a gardener – at all – and my knowledge of plants is not great and so I kind of collect, well, I used to collect names of plants that sounded witchy and then I found this Culpeper’s Complete Herbal and it was the answer to my every prayer: [flicking through] Flaxweed, Toadflax, Fleawort, Goutwort, Gromel, knot-grass, Mugwort… just everything you could possibly, you know, so when I’m potioning I get lost in this for an hour. And the great thing is that it actually does tell you what they used to believe it did, so you can really use the right things in the potions you’re making up. So that was a very handy book to find.”

    (3) Gaskell, Elizabeth https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/2012/09/25/j-k-rowling-harry-potter-the-casual-vacancy/1578249/

    Rowling says she’s flattered but “uncomfortable if anyone thinks I’m walking around thinking myself the new Dickens. I think that’s presumptuous of anyone, but I was conscious when I started writing The Casual Vacancy of what I wanted it to be. I did want it to be like a Trollope or a Dickens or Mrs. Gaskell in the sense that I’m taking a small community, literally a parochial community, and trying to analyze it and anatomize it in the way that they did. I really like those 19th-century novels. That’s the kind of thing I love reading.”

    (4) Trollope, Anthony https://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/books/review/j-k-rowling-by-the-book.html

    If your new book, “The Casual Vacancy,” were to be compared to another book, author or series in your dream book review, what would it be?

    “The Casual Vacancy” consciously harked back to the 19th-century traditions of Trollope, Dickens and Gaskell; an analysis of a small, literally parochial society. Any review that made reference to any of those writers would delight me.

    Which makes our total number of Rowling Literary Likes on Boxing Day 67 references… Keep those links coming!

  14. Beatrice Groves says

    Three new favourites in this interview (in the august company of a number of oft-repeated favourites): E. F. Benson, Chips Channon and Frances Donaldson – ‘ I love Colette, Katherine Mansfield, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, E. F. Benson and P. G. Wodehouse, all of whom are always beside my bed. I read a lot of diaries and biographies, too; Chips Channon’s also a fixture on the bedside bookshelves, as is the afore-mentioned Secrets of the Flesh, and everything by Frances Donaldson is eminently re-readable.’ https://www.jjmarshauthor.com/jk-rowling/

    She also said that Kafka was a genius (which I think counts) on Twitter: ‘Look, the man was a genius…’
    https://twitter.com/jk_rowling/status/1247880463735115777?lang=en-gb

  15. And Georgette Heyer, too, the detective mystery writer is given a big push in the same 2013 interview with her old friend, JJ Marsh:

    I know I read Little Women when I was eight, because we moved house shortly afterwards, when I was nine. Naturally, I whole-heartedly identified with Jo March, she of the burning literary ambition and short temper. My mother had everything Georgette Heyer ever wrote, so I whipped through those, too, when I was a pre-teen, and I FINALLY found a plain heroine there, too (Phoebe, in ‘Sylvester’, who also – hooray! – happened to be a writer).

    So, Kafka, Heyer, E. F. Benson, Chips Channon, and Frances Donaldson — great haul, Prof Groves! We’re up to 72 ‘Literary Likes with Link.’ Anyone care to get us to 75?

  16. Okay, I’m caught up with adding all those listed above in the comments to the main list and then added links to Rowling admiration for Adams, Ballard, Conan Doyle, Fleming, and Hans Christian Andersen.

    We’re up to 77. Maybe we should stop at that doubly magical number?

    Nah. Keep the links coming!

  17. Nick Jeffery says
  18. An avalanche of Tweets!

    I’ve added five from this list: Charlotte and Anne Bronte (“all the Brontes,” Emily was already listed), George Eliot, Dennis Potter, Sue Townsend, and Sathnam Sanghera.

    Which brings the list to 82 — thank you, Nick!

  19. Louise Freeman says

    Dangnabbit, am I going to have to search for evidence that Rowling has read Sacks as well as Ramachandran?

  20. Yep.

  21. I added Margaret Atwood because of Rowling’s saying in 2007 that Hermione’s favorite author would be Atwood. I wonder, though. She was in Canada and that is Atwood’s home turf. Maybe it was just a sop to the press gathered?

    I checked. Atwood indeed had done a star tour appearance at the International Festival of Authors that year and just the week before Rowling’s appearance. Atwood had interviewed Edinburgh’s Ian Rankin, who is very popular in Canada, and I have no doubt that, before Rowling’s arrival in the tsunami wake she had created via her “I always thought of DDore as gay” comments at Carnegie Hall, the Atwood-Rankin back and forth had been the big news event of IFOA 2007. Atwood/Rankin opened the Festival; Rowling was the closer. Rowling’s comment about Hermione loving Atwood may only have been a call-out to the local goddess, akin to her mentioning ancient forests during the press conference (Rowling’s appearance was a benefit for preservation of same).

    I’m going to add it as a Literary like if only because of the many times Rowling has said that Hermione’s character traits are based on JKR’s own behaviors as a young woman — and the fact that Hermione is brilliant. How can “Hermione’s favorite author” not count as a Literary Like?

    We’re at 83.

  22. Nick Jeffery says
  23. Another great list, Nick! Thank you for finding these lost Literary Likes on Rowling’s dormant twitter page!

    I have added Crispin, Frayn, Hanff, and Shukla to the list. I confess to never having heard of a single one of them, so, assuming this may be the case of other readers as well, I added a wiki page url to the book in question in case the Literary Likes List browser wants to know more.

    And do check out P. D. James’ list of ‘Five Most Riveting Crime Novels,’ that includes Crispin’s Moving Toyshop. I confess James’ endorsement tipped the scales on including Crispin; Rowling’s tweet is almost begrudging in its admiration.

    The list is at 87 entries.

  24. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    Thanks! Stalky does seem likely – the willingness of the Head to risk his life chronicled in ‘A Little Prep.’ in this exchange between Stettson and Stalky seems more matter for Dumbledore comparison:

    “I was off my head, you know, and they said I kept on callin’ for him.”

    “Cheek! You’re only a day-boy.”

    “He came just the same, and he about saved my life. I was all bunged up one night—just goin’ to croak, the doctor said—and they stuck a tube or somethin’ in my throat, and the Head sucked out the stuff.”

    “Ugh! ‘Shot if I would!”

    “He ought to have got diphtheria himself, the doctor said. So he stayed on at our house instead of going back. I’d ha’ croaked in another twenty minutes, the doctor says.”

    Nice to have explicit Hanff Charing Cross references, in the context of Dr. Groves’ post!

  25. Nick Jeffery says

    Even smaller twitter trawl to 01/01/2018

    Darren McGarvey
    https://twitter.com/jk_rowling/status/900402445532221440?s=19

    Nick Sharrat (children’s picture book)
    https://twitter.com/jk_rowling/status/819476661515206656?s=19

  26. Thank you, Nick! Your twitter trawl is responsible for almost an eighth of the total list.

    I have added the tweet to the McGarvey entry and added Sharrat, which brings the list to a neat 88 Literary Likes.

  27. Nick Jeffery says
  28. Great find, Nick, but I’m going to pass on this. It’s an explicitly acknowledged allusion rather than just an embedded allusion the reader is supposed to enjoy ‘like a sweet at the bottom of the bag,’ but it’s not really an endorsement per se, is it?

    Then again, she’s all but saying, “I’ve read Tolstoy and liked War and Peace,” and when is she ever going to say that flat-out. As if Tolstoy needs her thumbs up… Okay, I’m adding it. We’re at 89.

  29. Nick Jeffery says
  30. Another great bunch of ‘Literary Likes,’ Nick! Thank you!

    I have added Tom Holland, Musa Okwonga, and, find of the day, Gene Stratton-Porter.

    Of the fifty-five books selling one million or more copies between 1895 and 1945, five of them were novels written by Stratton-Porter. Among Stratton-Porter’s best-selling novels were Freckles (1904), A Girl of the Limberlost (1909), The Harvester (1911), Laddie (1913), and Michael O’Halloran (1915)….

    Stratton-Porter, a “pioneer” in the Hollywood film industry, was dissatisfied with the movie adaptation of her novels by movie studios. Because she wanted more control over the production work, Stratton-Porter expanded her business ventures to include her own production studio to make moving pictures based on her novels. Eight of her novels have been made into movies.

    Sound familiar?

    These additions bring the list of Rowling’s Literary Likes up to 92 to start the New Year. Thanks again, Nick!

  31. Beatrice Groves says

    Just to second John’s thanks Nick – a superb haul!

Speak Your Mind

*