The Harry Potter Studio Tour, was visited today by Kate Middleton, Prince William, and Prince Harry. Their visit was a part of The Duke of Cambridge’s Inauguration of the Harry Potter-anchored attraction which opened in 2012. Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling was present alongside her husband Neil and Harry Potter film directors David Yates, Mike Newell, and producer David Heyman.
Prince William made a speech at the event, praising what the Harry Potter franchise has done for Britain. “Our Nation’s extraordinary capacity for talent is not a thing of the past. It is worth reminding ourselves that the Harry Potter book series has become the most popular series ever to be printed, and the Harry Potter movie series – filmed right here – is the most successful in history. ??So, what of the future? How can we possibly continue these successes of the past?”
“I am proud to say that, as President of BAFTA, there is a huge amount of work going on to nurture the talent of tomorrow,” he continued. “BAFTA’s inspiring Guru programme is one that I would encourage everyone in the industry to support. I am also immensely proud of the scholarships which BAFTA has announced today, which Warner Brothers are so generously supporting. These scholarships will lead to talented young people, who would otherwise not have the chance to develop their careers, to reach their full potential.”
After the announcement that David Cameron was to reject the recommendations made by the Leveson Inquiry (to have a statutory regulation of the press), Jo, one of the many celebrities to come forward during the inquiries reliving many of the hellish things the press did towards herself and her family made the following statement:
I am alarmed and dismayed that the Prime Minister appears to be backing away from assurances he made at the outset of the Leveson inquiry.
I thought long and hard about the possible consequences to my family of giving evidence and finally decided to do so because I have made every possible attempt to protect my children’s privacy under the present system, and failed. If I, who can afford the very best lawyers, cannot guarantee the privacy of those dearest to me, what hope did the Dowlers, the McCanns and the Watsons ever have of protecting their own children and their own good names? Those who have suffered the worst, most painful and least justifiable kinds of mistreatment at the hands of the press, people who have become newsworthy because of the press’s own errors or through unspeakable private tragedy, are those least likely to be able to defend themselves or to seek proper redress.
My understanding is that Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations would give everybody, whatever their degree of celebrity or their bank balance, a quick, cheap and effective way of holding the press to account. They would also protect the press against frivolous complaints and reduce costly lawsuits. At the moment, only those of us who can afford the immensely expensive, time-consuming and stressful services of the legal system are able to take a stand against serious invasions of privacy and even this offers little to no protection against the unjustified, insidious and often covert practises highlighted by the Leveson inquiry.
Without statutory underpinning Leveson’s recommendations will not work. We will be left with yet another voluntary system from which the press can walk away. If the Prime Minister did not wish to change the regulatory system even to the moderate, balanced and proportionate extent proposed by Lord Leveson, I am at a loss to understand why so much public money has been spent and why so many people have been asked to re-live extremely painful episodes on the stand in front of millions. Having taken David Cameron’s assurances in good faith at the outset of the inquiry he set up, I am merely one among many who feel duped and angry in its wake.
I hope that those who share similar concerns will speak up now and sign the Hacked Off petition. Mr. Cameron said that he would implement sensible recommendations: it is time for him to honour that commitment and join the other political leaders by supporting the Leveson recommendations in their entirety.
Nominations for Specsavers National Book Awards shortlist have been announced today with the biggest names in the business going head to head. The winners will be presented with their awards by TV host Lorraine Kelly at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, London on Tuesday 4th December. Highlights from the ceremony will be shown on Lorraine’s ITV1 show the following day.
Jo is one author of six to be nominated for Waterstones UK Author of the Year. The nominees for the category are as follows:
• Capital by John Lanchester (Faber and Faber)
• Swimming Home by Deborah Levy (Faber and Faber)
• Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel (4th Estate)
• The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling (Little, Brown)
• NW by Zadie Smith (Hamish Hamilton)
• Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal by Jeanette Winterson (Vintage)
A huge and well-earned congratulations to Jo and the hope that she wins!
J.K. Rowling was interviewed recently by the New York Times about all things literature and books. Jo discussed her favourite and not-so-favourite genres and forms of literature, favourite writers, and which of the books she’s written so far have been on the top of her list.
Any literary genre you simply can’t be bothered with?
“Can’t be bothered with” isn’t a phrase I’d use, because my reading tastes are pretty catholic. I don’t read “chick lit,” fantasy or science fiction but I’ll give any book a chance if it’s lying there and I’ve got half an hour to kill. With all of their benefits, and there are many, one of the things I regret about e-books is that they have taken away the necessity of trawling foreign bookshops or the shelves of holiday houses to find something to read. I’ve come across gems and stinkers that way, and both can be fun.
On the subject of literary genres, I’ve always felt that my response to poetry is inadequate. I’d love to be the kind of person that drifts off into the garden with a slim volume of Elizabethan verse or a sheaf of haikus, but my passion is story. Every now and then I read a poem that does touch something in me, but I never turn to poetry for solace or pleasure in the way that I throw myself into prose.
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.
What books have your own children introduced you to recently? Or you to them?
My son introduced me to Cressida Cowell’s dragon books, which are so good and funny. My younger daughter is pony mad, so we’re halfway through a box set by Pippa Funnell. I recently started pressing Kurt Vonnegut Jr. on my elder daughter, who is a scientist.
Of the books you’ve written, which is your favorite?
My heart is divided three ways: “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” and “The Casual Vacancy.”
To read the complete interview click here
A new photoshoot (photographed by Debra Hurford Brown) has also been added to the galllery (links below)
‘The Casual Vacancy’ is J.K. Rowling’s first novel written for adults, published 27th of September. This page is managed by J.K. Rowling’s publisher Little, Brown Book Group. J.K. Rowling can be found on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/JKRowling
The telegraph report how Jo needed help to cope with the pressures of fame and fortune – a woman who went from leaving in a bedsit on benefits to being the first billionaire author in history.
The author, who has sold more than 450 million books since publishing her first Harry Potter book 15 years ago, said that she had turned to therapy while feeling at “rock bottom” when writing her first book in Edinburgh, where she was living in a bedsit with her young daughter and surviving on benefits.
“And I had to do it again when my life was changing so suddenly – and it really helped,” she said. “I’m a big fan of it, it helped me a lot.
“For a few years I did feel I was on a psychic treadmill, trying to keep up with where I was. Everything changed so rapidly, so strangely. I knew no one who’d ever been in the public eye. I didn’t know anyone – anyone – to whom I could turn and say, “what do you do?”, so it was incredibly disorienting.”
Though the article covers much of what happened in the interview from The Guardian can be read in full here.
JK Rowling’s first interview in a long line about The Casual Vacancy was released in The Guardian (UK) with a companion video which can be seen below. In the lengthy interview we learn more in-depth details about The Casual Vacancy ahead of its worldwide release this Thursday as well as more information about the author and her personal life.
The Guardian were given the opportunity to read the novel ahead of publication giving it glowing reviews. We learn about the origin of the plot for The Casual Vacancy (the idea coming this time on the plane) and that the writing for this book was set in motion 5 years ago. A more in-depth summary of The Casual Vacancy can be read below.
The story opens with the death of a parish councillor in the pretty West Country village of Pagford. Barry had grown up on a nearby council estate, the Fields, a squalid rural ghetto with which the more pious middle classes of Pagford have long lost patience. If they can fill his seat with one more councillor sympathetic to their disgust, they’ll secure a majority vote to reassign responsibility for the Fields to a neighbouring council, and be rid of the wretched place for good.
The pompous chairman assumes the seat will go to his son, a solicitor. Pitted against him are a bitterly cold GP and a deputy headmaster crippled by irreconcilable ambivalence towards his son, an unnervingly self-possessed adolescent whose subversion takes the unusual but highly effective form of telling the truth. His preoccupation with “authenticity” develops into a fascination with the Fields and its most notorious family, the Weedons.
Terri Weedon is a prostitute, junkie and lifelong casualty of chilling abuse, struggling to stay clean to stop social services taking her three-year-old son, Robbie, into care. But methadone is a precarious substitute for heroin, and most of what passes for mothering falls to her teenage daughter, Krystal. Spirited and volatile, Krystal has known only one adult ally in her life – Barry – and his sudden death casts her dangerously adrift. When anonymous messages begin appearing on the parish council website, exposing villagers’ secrets, Pagford unravels into a panic of paranoia, rage and tragedy.
Pagford will be appallingly recognisable to anyone who has ever lived in a West Country village, but its clever comedy can also be read as a parable about national politics. “I’m interested in that drive, that rush to judgment, that is so prevalent in our society,” Rowling says. “We all know that pleasurable rush that comes from condemning, and in the short term it’s quite a satisfying thing to do, isn’t it?” But it requires obliviousness to the horrors suffered by a family such as the Weedons, and the book satirises the ignorance of elites who assume to know what’s best for everyone else.
Click here to read the complete article
Along with the interview, Jo also took part in a photoshoot – one image of which was used on the front cover of the Guardian magazine and can be viewed in our gallery.
Photoshoots > Photoshoots from 2012 > Shoot 01
JK Rowling has failed to save the historic Kensal Rise Library from being put on the property market, even though several leading authors had campaigned for it.
The Royal Society of Literature, of which the Labour-supporting Rowling is a leading member, said that it was “appalled” that Kensal Rise Library had been stripped of its books by Brent council in May, the Telegraph reported. The elegant library, whose opening was attended by author Mark Twain in 1900, has now been quietly put on the market with Cluttons. The estate agent has not disclosed how much it is seeking for the 5,850 sq ft building, which is in an increasingly fashionable corner of north-west London, but it would be worth millions. Labour-controlled Brent had closed the library last year as part of their cost-cutting exercise. Under the terms of its lease, the building’s ownership has now reverted to All Souls College, Oxford, which is now selling it.
“It was dedicated as a library and reading area by Andrew Carnegie, so that is what it should be,” Tim Lott, one of the authors who has been campaigning to save it, said. “All Souls were fine with the land being used for free until Brent council insisted on giving it back to them. Now they, understandably, have to look at their options. I feel betrayed by the council and the Government.”
Denis MacShane, the Labour MP, said: “The decision is a symbol of cultural philistinism. It is sad to see this wonderful coalition of writers and artists has been unsuccessful in their campaign.” Source: here
The Harry Potter author JK Rowling has won permission to build two luxurious Hogwarts-style tree houses in her garden, despite protests from local residents. The writer applied to have the 40ft high structures erected, at an estimated cost of £250,000, as part of a programme of major renovations at her home in Edinburgh. The two-storey structures on stilts are for her nine-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter and feature secret tunnels, a rope bridge and turreted roofs.
Residents living nearby lodged objections with Edinburgh City Council, claiming the size of the tree houses meant they would be seen from the road and would blight the conservation area. Dr Patricia Eason, secretary of the Cramond and Barnton community council, said in a letter that it had serious concerns, adding: “Presently the tree house development will be screened from the roadway by the line of tall conifer trees.”That is except for the view now apparent through the gap just formed by the applicant, where some three or four trees have been removed. Our concern is without this high and substantial screening belt of conifers, the entrance to the conservation area would be marked by this massive and very high tree house development and this would be quite out of character with the area and unacceptable.”
Ms Rowling’s neighbour Tom Borthwick, 66, also raised concerns about the size and safety of the tree houses and sought assurances they could not be viewed from outside the property. However, planning officials approved the application and dismissed suggestions that the buildings would have an adverse impact on the conservation area.
The tree houses will be linked by a rope bridge, with a trap door and fireman’s pole offering a quick escape from one, and a spiral staircase or steel slide from the other. Drawings show one of the houses features a perch for what appears to be an owl, and a “nature box” built into the cedar shingles on the roof for birds to nest in.
They are to be built using sustainable timber by the tree house specialist Blue Forest, from Tunbridge Wells, Kent.
Last year, the multi-millionaire author was granted planning permission to knock down a £1million 1970s style house she bought next door to her own home to allow her to enlarge the garden.
Ms Rowling, 46, bought her 17th century mansion for just over £2million, two and a half years ago, and lives there with her husband Dr Neil Murray, their two young children and her 19 year old daughter, Jessica, from her first marriage.
The application did not go before councillors on the planning committee because less than six objections were received.
Forbes magazine’s annual list of the 100 most powerful women on the planet is long on politicians, philanthropists and entertainers, but short on influential Britons, with just the Queen and JK Rowling making this year’s cut. Jo takes the number 76th spot with Forbes saying the following:
Harry Potter’s creator moves into the big kids’ section. Rowling’s first adult offering, a dark comedy titled “The Casual Vacancy,” is due to be published in the UK and US this September. But the first billionaire author is still earning off of the young wizard. The books finally became available in digital form in 2012 via the online store Pottermore, with Rowling, who shrewdly held onto e-book rights rather than sign them over to her publishers, pocketing much of the sale price. The Pottermore store did over $4 million in sales in its first month. To date, she is the only author to have negotiated such a deal. 2012 marks the 15th anniversary in the UK of “Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone” (Note: The US edition titled “‘The Sorcerer’s Stone” was published in 1998); the book was published with an initial print-run of just 500 hardback copies in 1997, which was standard at the time for a first novel. First edition copies have since sold for over $30,000.
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