The Ickabog: JKR’s Political Fairy Tale

 

J. K. Rowling announced today — on a thirteen part Twitter thread with follow-ups and via a website devoted to the work — the publication of her long ago promised “political fairy tale” (which she once wore to a party as a dress), The Ickabog. She says it is not a “Harry Potter spin-off” but a “story about the truth and the abuse of power.”  She asserts, despite its publication being for the entertainment and edification of children affected by the Covid-19 lockdowns, that the tale “isn’t intended to be read as a response to anything that’s happening in the world right now. The themes are timeless and could apply to any era or any country.” Chapters will be published on a daily basis from today to 10 July at TheIckabog.com; each will be discussed here at HogwartsProfessor.

The first two chapters, ‘King Fred the Fearless‘ and ‘The Ickabog,‘ are available today. Happy reading! Please share your thoughts on the project as well as the first chapters on the comment thread below.

Comments

  1. Kelly Loomis says

    I am looking forward to experiencing this story each day. I enjoyed how she said her kids asked her to put in the parts they remembered as their favorites. What a way to give us the slow reveal – purposefully releasing it in bits over several weeks! Many adults are more excited than kids to read it! My nephew will be entering the illustration contest.

  2. Lana Whited says

    Naturally, I am very interested in this creature, the Ickabog, described by those who claim to have seen it as “snakelike [or] dragonish or wolflike. Some said it roared, others that it hissed, and still others said that it drifted as silently as the mists that descended on the marsh without warning.” Will readers actually glimpse this mythic beast in these summer installments or will it be rendered only in stories? I can’t wait to learn!

  3. Louise Freeman says

    It makes me wish I had a child to read it to, or to enter the art contest.

  4. Nick Jeffery says

    Same here Louise, but my dog seems to enjoy my reading aloud to her. What utter joy it is however, to see JK commenting on all the children’s drawings. She is in her element, it reminds me of her taking questions from kids during her early public readings.

  5. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    Will anyone be producing Jeroboams of a respectable imitation of vintage Jeroboam under licence? Or, better yet, perhaps JKR and her family have a recipe they can publish to enable us to ferment our own respectable imitation… (Indeed, chapter one suggests all sorts of possible recipe spinoffs…)

  6. Kelly Loomis says

    This tale is getting scarier by the day. I can’t imagine reading this story to my seven year old (if I still had one). Kidnapping, murder, imprisonments, children in orphanages (hello Lumos) are not children’s tales. Did she really read this to her young children?

  7. Nick Jeffery says

    It may be a cultural thing. It is for sure many years since I was read fairy tales, but my memory of them from the 70s is that they were particularly blood thirsty.

  8. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    Dithering as to the best way to read ‘The Ickabog’, I’m ‘way behind’, but I have instead been reading Mary Vivian (‘Molly’) Hughes’ five-part memoir-family history series, and in A London Home in the 1890s (1937) just came (in ch. 9) to her visiting her nephews of eight and nine for the 1896 Christmas season and every evening before they went to bed telling them a story: “For this I had to fall back on any plot I knew, and since they were as anxious […] to have everything as ‘bluggy’ [= ‘bloody’] as possible, it was usually one of the good old tragedies. One night as I was starting Macbeth with the usual ‘once upon a time’ they stopped me to ask how many people were going to be killed. After a hasty mental calculation I said ‘Eight’. ‘Oooh!’ they exclaimed, and settled themselves in joyful expectation.”

    (By the way, do ‘we’ know if JKR is a Molly Hughes fan, or has at least read her? She gives fascinating glimpses of day and boarding school life (and college life), especially, though not exclusively, in A London Girl of the 1880s (1936) – none of which struck me as much like Beauxbâtons or Hogwarts, but which make for interesting comparisons and contrasts in building up one’s sense of school (hi)stories.)

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