J. K. Rowling

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Nothing is more unnerving to the truly conventional than the unashamed misfit!

Joanne Rowling, CH, OBE, HonFRSE, FRCPE, FRSL (born 31 July 1965), is a British novelist, most famous for writing the Harry Potter series as J. K. Rowling, a pen name devised using her grandmother's name, "Kathleen" as a middle name. She has also written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

See also:
Harry Potter (books)
Harry Potter (films)

Quotes[edit]

I've never set out to teach anyone anything. It's been more of an expression of my views and feelings than sitting down and deciding "What is today's message?"
The Potter books in general are a prolonged argument for tolerance, a prolonged plea for an end to bigotry
I think that it's a very healthy message to pass on to younger people that you should question authority and you should not assume that the establishment or the press tells you all of the truth.

1990s[edit]

  • The wizards represent all that the true "muggle" most fears: They are plainly outcasts and comfortable with being so. Nothing is more unnerving to the truly conventional than the unashamed misfit!
    • Salon (31 March 1999)
  • I don't believe in magic, either.
    • As quoted in "Success of Harry Potter bowls author over" at CNN.com (21 October 1999)

2000s[edit]

  • I bumped into a woman I hadn't seen for nearly three years. The first thing she said to me? "You've lost a lot of weight since the last time I saw you!"
    "Well," I said, slightly nonplussed, "the last time you saw me I'd just had a baby."
    What I felt like saying was, "I've produced my third child and my sixth novel since I last saw you. Aren't either of those things more important, more interesting, than my size?" But no — my waist looked smaller! Forget the kid and the book: finally, something to celebrate!
  • I've never set out to teach anyone anything. It's been more of an expression of my views and feelings than sitting down and deciding "What is today's message?" And I do think that, although I never, again, sat down consciously and thought about this, I do think judging, even for my own daughter, that children respond to that than to "thought for the day."
  • If you need to tell your readers something … there are only two characters that you can put it convincingly into their dialogue. One is Hermione, the other is Dumbledore. In both cases you accept, it's plausible that they have, well Dumbledore knows pretty much everything anyway, but that Hermione has read it somewhere. So, she's handy.
  • I've given you more than I've given anyone else which I probably shouldn't probably say on — on screen, or they'll kidnap and torture him, and we need him.
  • The fame thing is interesting because I never wanted to be famous, and I never dreamt I would be famous.
    I imagined being a famous writer would be like being like Jane Austen. Being able to sit at home in the parsonage and your books would be very famous and occasionally you would correspond with the Prince of Wales's secretary.
    You know I didn't think they'd rake through my bins, I didn't expect to be photographed on the beach through long lenses. I never dreamt it would impact my daughter's life negatively, which at times it has.
  • It would be one way to kill off the merchandising.
    • On the possibility of killing Harry in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, as quoted in 'Harry is a lot, lot, lot angrier in this book' in The Telegraph (20 June 2003)
  • I think most of us if you were asked to name a very evil regime would think of Nazi Germany. … I wanted Harry to leave our world and find exactly the same problems in the Wizarding world. So you have to the intent to impose a hierarchy, you have bigotry, and this notion of purity, which is a great fallacy, but it crops up all over the world. People like to think themselves superior and that if they can pride themselves on nothing else, they can pride themselves on perceived purity. … The Potter books in general are a prolonged argument for tolerance, a prolonged plea for an end to bigotry, and I think it's one of the reasons that some people don't like the books, but I think that it's a very healthy message to pass on to younger people that you should question authority and you should not assume that the establishment or the press tells you all of the truth.
    • Quoted in ‪Harry Potter's Bookshelf : The Great Books Behind the Hogwarts Adventures‬ (2009) by John Granger

Harvard address (2008)[edit]

Harvard University Commencement Address (5 June 2008) video at Vimeo · Full text at Harvard Gazette:"The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination"
  • Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea then how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality.
    So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.
  • It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.
  • Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.
  • Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s places.
    Of course, this is a power, like my brand of fictional magic, that is morally neutral. One might use such an ability to manipulate, or control, just as much as to understand or sympathise.
    And many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. They choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience, never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than they are. They can refuse to hear screams or to peer inside cages; they can close their minds and hearts to any suffering that does not touch them personally; they can refuse to know.
    I might be tempted to envy people who can live that way, except that I do not think they have any fewer nightmares than I do. Choosing to live in narrow spaces leads to a form of mental agoraphobia, and that brings its own terrors. I think the wilfully unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid.
    What is more, those who choose not to empathize enable real monsters; for without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it, through our own apathy.
  • One of the many things I learned at the end of that Classics corridor down which I ventured at the age of 18, in search of something I could not then define, was this, written by the Greek author Plutarch: What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.
    That is an astonishing statement and yet proven a thousand times every day of our lives. It expresses, in part, our inescapable connection with the outside world, the fact that we touch other people’s lives simply by existing.
  • We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already. We have the power to imagine better.
    • Paraphrased variant: We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.

2010s[edit]

  • No story lives unless someone wants to listen.
  • The stories we love best do live in us forever. So, whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.
  • I mean, is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’, ‘boring’ or ‘cruel’? Not me.
    • from Pansy Hermiones, 2006

2020s[edit]

Critiques of Western cancel culture are possibly not best made by those currently slaughtering civilians for the crime of resistance, or who jail and poison their critics. #IStandWithUkraine

Reasons for Speaking out on Sex and Gender Issues (10 June 2020)[edit]

We're living through the most misogynistic period I've experienced. … Everywhere, women are being told to shut up and sit down, or else.
"J. K. Rowling Writes about Her Reasons for Speaking out on Sex and Gender Issues" (10 June 2020)
I want trans women to be safe. At the same time, I do not want to make natal girls and women less safe. When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he's a woman — and, as I've said, gender confirmation certificates may now be granted without any need for surgery or hormones — then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside.
I stand alongside the brave women and men, gay, straight and trans, who're standing up for freedom of speech and thought, and for the rights and safety of some of the most vulnerable in our society: young gay kids, fragile teenagers, and women who're reliant on and wish to retain their single sex spaces.
  • This isn't an easy piece to write, for reasons that will shortly become clear, but I know it's time to explain myself on an issue surrounded by toxicity. I write this without any desire to add to that toxicity.
    For people who don't know: last December I tweeted my support for Maya Forstater, a tax specialist who'd lost her job for what were deemed "transphobic" tweets. She took her case to an employment tribunal, asking the judge to rule on whether a philosophical belief that sex is determined by biology is protected in law. Judge Tayler ruled that it wasn't.
  • All the time I've been researching and learning, accusations and threats from trans activists have been bubbling in my Twitter timeline. This was initially triggered by a 'like'. When I started taking an interest in gender identity and transgender matters, I began screenshotting comments that interested me, as a way of reminding myself what I might want to research later. On one occasion, I absent-mindedly 'liked' instead of screenshotting. That single 'like' was deemed evidence of wrongthink, and a persistent low level of harassment began.
    Months later, I compounded my accidental 'like' crime by following Magdalen Berns on Twitter. Magdalen was an immensely brave young feminist and lesbian who was dying of an aggressive brain tumour. I followed her because I wanted to contact her directly, which I succeeded in doing. However, as Magdalen was a great believer in the importance of biological sex, and didn't believe lesbians should be called bigots for not dating trans women with penises, dots were joined in the heads of twitter trans activists, and the level of social media abuse increased.
  • What I didn't expect in the aftermath of my cancellation was the avalanche of emails and letters that came showering down upon me, the overwhelming majority of which were positive, grateful and supportive. They came from a cross-section of kind, empathetic and intelligent people, some of them working in fields dealing with gender dysphoria and trans people, who're all deeply concerned about the way a socio-political concept is influencing politics, medical practice and safeguarding. They're worried about the dangers to young people, gay people and about the erosion of women's and girl's rights. Above all, they're worried about a climate of fear that serves nobody — least of all trans youth — well.
  • If you didn't already know — and why should you? — "TERF" is an acronym coined by trans activists, which stands for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist. In practice, a huge and diverse cross-section of women are currently being called TERFs and the vast majority have never been radical feminists. Examples of so-called TERFs range from the mother of a gay child who was afraid their child wanted to transition to escape homophobic bullying, to a hitherto totally unfeminist older lady who's vowed never to visit Marks & Spencer again because they're allowing any man who says they identify as a woman into the women's changing rooms. Ironically, radical feminists aren't even trans-exclusionary — they include trans men in their feminism, because they were born women.
    But accusations of TERFery have been sufficient to intimidate many people, institutions and organisations I once admired, who're cowering before the tactics of the playground. "They'll call us transphobic!" "They'll say I hate trans people!" What next, they'll say you've got fleas? Speaking as a biological woman, a lot of people in positions of power really need to grow a pair (which is doubtless literally possible, according to the kind of people who argue that clownfish prove humans aren't a dimorphic species).
  • I've got five reasons for being worried about the new trans activism, and deciding I need to speak up.
    Firstly, I have a charitable trust that focuses on alleviating social deprivation in Scotland, with a particular emphasis on women and children. Among other things, my trust supports projects for female prisoners and for survivors of domestic and sexual abuse. I also fund medical research into MS, a disease that behaves very differently in men and women. It's been clear to me for a while that the new trans activism is having (or is likely to have, if all its demands are met) a significant impact on many of the causes I support, because it's pushing to erode the legal definition of sex and replace it with gender.
    The second reason is that I'm an ex-teacher and the founder of a children's charity, which gives me an interest in both education and safeguarding. Like many others, I have deep concerns about the effect the trans rights movement is having on both.
    The third is that, as a much-banned author, I'm interested in freedom of speech and have publicly defended it, even unto Donald Trump.
    The fourth is where things start to get truly personal. I'm concerned about the huge explosion in young women wishing to transition and also about the increasing numbers who seem to be detransitioning (returning to their original sex), because they regret taking steps that have, in some cases, altered their bodies irrevocably, and taken away their fertility. Some say they decided to transition after realising they were same-sex attracted, and that transitioning was partly driven by homophobia, either in society or in their families.
    Most people probably aren't aware — I certainly wasn't, until I started researching this issue properly — that ten years ago, the majority of people wanting to transition to the opposite sex were male. That ratio has now reversed. The UK has experienced a 4400% increase in girls being referred for transitioning treatment. Autistic girls are hugely overrepresented in their numbers.
  • I want to be very clear here: I know transition will be a solution for some gender dysphoric people, although I'm also aware through extensive research that studies have consistently shown that between 60-90% of gender dysphoric teens will grow out of their dysphoria. Again and again I've been told to 'just meet some trans people.' I have: in addition to a few younger people, who were all adorable, I happen to know a self-described transsexual woman who's older than I am and wonderful. Although she's open about her past as a gay man, I've always found it hard to think of her as anything other than a woman, and I believe (and certainly hope) she's completely happy to have transitioned. Being older, though, she went through a long and rigorous process of evaluation, psychotherapy and staged transformation. The current explosion of trans activism is urging a removal of almost all the robust systems through which candidates for sex reassignment were once required to pass. A man who intends to have no surgery and take no hormones may now secure himself a Gender Recognition Certificate and be a woman in the sight of the law. Many people aren't aware of this.
  • We're living through the most misogynistic period I've experienced. Back in the 80s, I imagined that my future daughters, should I have any, would have it far better than I ever did, but between the backlash against feminism and a porn-saturated online culture, I believe things have got significantly worse for girls. Never have I seen women denigrated and dehumanised to the extent they are now. From the leader of the free world's long history of sexual assault accusations and his proud boast of 'grabbing them by the pussy', to the incel ('involuntarily celibate') movement that rages against women who won't give them sex, to the trans activists who declare that TERFs need punching and re-educating, men across the political spectrum seem to agree: women are asking for trouble. Everywhere, women are being told to shut up and sit down, or else.
  • I've read all the arguments about femaleness not residing in the sexed body, and the assertions that biological women don't have common experiences, and I find them, too, deeply misogynistic and regressive. It's also clear that one of the objectives of denying the importance of sex is to erode what some seem to see as the cruelly segregationist idea of women having their own biological realities or — just as threatening — unifying realities that make them a cohesive political class. The hundreds of emails I've received in the last few days prove this erosion concerns many others just as much.  It isn't enough for women to be trans allies. Women must accept and admit that there is no material difference between trans women and themselves.
    But, as many women have said before me, 'woman' is not a costume. 'Woman' is not an idea in a man's head. 'Woman' is not a pink brain, a liking for Jimmy Choos or any of the other sexist ideas now somehow touted as progressive. Moreover, the 'inclusive' language that calls female people 'menstruators' and 'people with vulvas' strikes many women as dehumanising and demeaning. I understand why trans activists consider this language to be appropriate and kind, but for those of us who've had degrading slurs spat at us by violent men, it's not neutral, it's hostile and alienating.
  • Which brings me to the fifth reason I'm deeply concerned about the consequences of the current trans activism.
    I've been in the public eye now for over twenty years and have never talked publicly about being a domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor. This isn't because I'm ashamed those things happened to me, but because they're traumatic to revisit and remember. […] I'm mentioning these things now not in an attempt to garner sympathy, but out of solidarity with the huge numbers of women who have histories like mine, who've been slurred as bigots for having concerns around single-sex spaces.
    I managed to escape my first violent marriage with some difficulty, but I'm now married to a truly good and principled man, safe and secure in ways I never in a million years expected to be. However, the scars left by violence and sexual assault don't disappear, no matter how loved you are, and no matter how much money you've made. My perennial jumpiness is a family joke — and even I know it's funny — but I pray my daughters never have the same reasons I do for hating sudden loud noises, or finding people behind me when I haven't heard them approaching.
  • If you could come inside my head and understand what I feel when I read about a trans woman dying at the hands of a violent man, you'd find solidarity and kinship. I have a visceral sense of the terror in which those trans women will have spent their last seconds on earth, because I too have known moments of blind fear when I realised that the only thing keeping me alive was the shaky self-restraint of my attacker.
    I believe the majority of trans-identified people not only pose zero threat to others, but are vulnerable for all the reasons I've outlined. Trans people need and deserve protection. Like women, they're most likely to be killed by sexual partners. Trans women who work in the sex industry, particularly trans women of colour, are at particular risk. Like every other domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor I know, I feel nothing but empathy and solidarity with trans women who've been abused by men.
    So I want trans women to be safe. At the same time, I do not want to make natal girls and women less safe. When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he's a woman — and, as I've said, gender confirmation certificates may now be granted without any need for surgery or hormones — then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside. That is the simple truth.
  • Late on Saturday evening, scrolling through children's pictures before I went to bed, I forgot the first rule of Twitter — never, ever expect a nuanced conversation — and reacted to what I felt was degrading language about women. I spoke up about the importance of sex and have been paying the price ever since. I was transphobic, I was a cunt, a bitch, a TERF, I deserved cancelling, punching and death. You are Voldemort said one person, clearly feeling this was the only language I'd understand.
    It would be so much easier to tweet the approved hashtags — because of course trans rights are human rights and of course trans lives matter — scoop up the woke cookies and bask in a virtue-signalling afterglow. There's joy, relief and safety in conformity. As Simone de Beauvoir also wrote, “… without a doubt it is more comfortable to endure blind bondage than to work for one's liberation; the dead, too, are better suited to the earth than the living.”
  • Huge numbers of women are justifiably terrified by the trans activists; I know this because so many have got in touch with me to tell their stories. They're afraid of doxxing, of losing their jobs or their livelihoods, and of violence.
    But endlessly unpleasant as its constant targeting of me has been, I refuse to bow down to a movement that I believe is doing demonstrable harm in seeking to erode 'woman' as a political and biological class and offering cover to predators like few before it. I stand alongside the brave women and men, gay, straight and trans, who're standing up for freedom of speech and thought, and for the rights and safety of some of the most vulnerable in our society: young gay kids, fragile teenagers, and women who're reliant on and wish to retain their single sex spaces. Polls show those women are in the vast majority, and exclude only those privileged or lucky enough never to have come up against male violence or sexual assault, and who've never troubled to educate themselves on how prevalent it is.
  • The one thing that gives me hope is that the women who can protest and organise, are doing so, and they have some truly decent men and trans people alongside them. Political parties seeking to appease the loudest voices in this debate are ignoring women's concerns at their peril. In the UK, women are reaching out to each other across party lines, concerned about the erosion of their hard-won rights and widespread intimidation. None of the gender critical women I've talked to hates trans people; on the contrary. Many of them became interested in this issue in the first place out of concern for trans youth, and they're hugely sympathetic towards trans adults who simply want to live their lives, but who're facing a backlash for a brand of activism they don't endorse. The supreme irony is that the attempt to silence women with the word "TERF" may have pushed more young women towards radical feminism than the movement's seen in decades.
  • The last thing I want to say is this. I haven't written this essay in the hope that anybody will get out a violin for me, not even a teeny-weeny one. I'm extraordinarily fortunate; I'm a survivor, certainly not a victim. I've only mentioned my past because, like every other human being on this planet, I have a complex backstory, which shapes my fears, my interests and my opinions. I never forget that inner complexity when I'm creating a fictional character and I certainly never forget it when it comes to trans people.
    All I'm asking — all I want — is for similar empathy, similar understanding, to be extended to the many millions of women whose sole crime is wanting their concerns to be heard without receiving threats and abuse.

Quotes about Rowling[edit]

  • Rowling’s wide-ranging familiarity with myth, legend, magic, and odd bits of recondite and esoteric information is the web-stuff from which she spins her magical tale. The books create their own world, whose integrity is an essential for good fantasy. Yet they are also interpretable in or, to use J. R. R. Tolkien’s term, “applicable” to other contexts, such as Theosophy, with which Rowling has some familiarity, as is clear from her reference in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban to the fictitious author “Cassandra Vablatsky” and her equally fictitious book Unfogging the Future. “Vablatsky” is a metathesis of “Blavatsky,”... Although “Cassandra Vablatsky” shows that Rowling has some knowledge of the Theosophical tradition, one cannot assume that knowledge to be either deep or extensive... Moreover, the fictitious book title' 'Unfogging the Future suggests Isis Unveiled, Helena Blavatsky’s first major work. Although “Cassandra Vablatsky” shows that Rowling has some knowledge of the Theosophical tradition, one cannot assume that knowledge to be either deep or extensive.
  • Last year, initially The Scotsman newspaper — being Scottish and J. K. Rowling being Scottish — and because of the English tendency to try and tear down their idols, they kept trying to build stories which said J. K. Rowling ripped off Neil Gaiman. They kept getting in touch with me and I kept declining to play because I thought it was silly. And then The Daily Mirror in England ran an article about that mad woman who was trying to sue J. K. Rowling over having stolen muggles from her. And they finished off with a line saying [something like]: And Neil Gaiman has accused her of stealing.
    Luckily I found this online and I found it the night it came out by pure coincidence and the reporter's e-mail address was at the bottom of the thing so I fired off an e-mail saying: This is not true, I never said this. You are making this up. I got an apologetic e-mail back, but by the time I'd gotten the apologetic e-mail back it was already in The Daily Mail the following morning and it was very obvious that The Daily Mail‘s research consisted of reading The Daily Mirror. And you're going: journalists are so lazy.

See also[edit]

Harry Potter wordmark.svg
Harry Potter  (book series, film series) by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone book film
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets book film
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban book film
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire book film
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix book film
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince book film
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book films part 1 and part 2
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play
last words in Harry Potter media books films games
Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them book film
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald film
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore film


External links[edit]

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