‘Writing Home’ by J. K. Rowling

J. K. Rowling has written a contribution to a collection of Remainer essays called ‘Dear Europe.’ Her brief and charming essay — 17 paragraphs with a ‘Freund Hanna’ latch and a story turn in paragraph 9 about her mother’s death –can be read at The Guardian website; see Writing Home.

I confess (after the jump!) to being delighted by the piece for three reasons:

(1) Unlike her twitter persona of old, which consisted in large part of tweets and re-tweets from a pontificatory and dismissive scold about the blind idiocy of all who disagree with her, this essay is open, engaging, and worried about the future of Great Britain not in the European Union. There is nothing harsh or uncharitable about those who voted for and are still in favor of Brexit (and against a second referendum), a rhetorical position much more inviting and potentially persuasive than her former ‘Hurrah for Our Side!’ posting.

(2) ‘Writing Home’ gives us stories of Rowling’s youth and family life that have not appeared in any of the unauthorized biographies. We do get another unflattering vignette of Peter Rowling in contrast to her mother but at least it is a new one. As skeptical even churlish as I am about psychological reading of a writer’s work, biographical details can be helpful and more than just gossip stimulating curiosity. The bits about her stays in Germany and travel in Austria give us a backdrop about why she was tempted to study German at Exeter, a subject she gave up for Classical Studies. This sort of sharing makes me look forward to reading her memoirs, if I doubt she will write them for many, many years.

(3) The argument of ‘Writing Home’ is ultimately sentimental and unpersuasive, even silly. (“My daughter would not have been born except for the ease with which I traveled to Portugal”? Really? A passport stop and check at borders would have derailed her ability to travel, contra every American tourist or vagabond’s experience of Europe…). But it is Rowling sharing her view out of her experience and her concerns about a post Brexit reality, and the story-telling is very good indeed, almost enchanting and well worth a first and second reading for the serious readers of her work.

Check it out and let me know what you think. Is this article, especially when coupled with her last longer tweet, a sign of a new, more mature and modest Rowling?

I confess that this is my hope. Perhaps like you, I am exhausted after the several years of increasingly hysterical prophecies of doom about Brexit, President Trump, and the ecological apocalypse of Climate Change (sound of rolling thunder in the distance). Those without identity or orthodox faith have made Chicken Little resistance to one, two, or all three their intersectional secular religion and political vocation; each in turn has been reduced to subjects about which one is supposed to parrot the received intelligent consensus in order to demonstrate fidelity to class and caste belief parameters. I’m hopeful that we no longer have to read Rowling’s harsher pronouncements on Brexit and that her future political comments will be as sober and charitable as this piece was.

To include more Voltaire! Your comments and corrections are coveted, as always.


  1. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    Indeed, nice, vivid, atmospheric… And, as to argument, inanely silly. As the Wikipediast reminds us, “The EU and European citizenship were established when the Maastricht Treaty came into force in 1993.” Every date and age she notes was pre-EU. Those “freedoms we had” (I enjoyed Interrailing, too, in my pre-1993 day) are exactly what existed prior to the full 1993 Brenter – though I suppose EUrocratic spite might contrive to make After variously less than Before.

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