J.K. Rowling wrote the most popular book series of all time. She created a world so engaging, it inspired a generation of kids to read again. But she is not an infallible creator.
The last book in the original Harry Potter series came out in 2007 and the last movie came out in 2011. When the last book came out she claimed to be ready to move on.
“I think it’s definitely time to stop,” Rowling said in a documentary from 2007. “It gives me a certain satisfaction to say what I thought happened and to tell other people that because I would like my version to be the official version still even though I’ve not written it in a book. Because it’s my world. But, no, I don’t want to write anymore Hogwarts books.”
She spent the last nine years writing books under pseudonyms, novels under her own name, and sporadically releasing information about the Harry Potter universe before unleashing a storm of new Harry Potter stories via theater, film, the internet.
Storytelling requires the reader and the writer to enter into an unspoken agreement. The reader agrees to invest their time and energy into the writer’s words, and the author promises the investment will be worthwhile because they can be trusted to tell the story. Of course, authors disappoint fans all the time, but for the most part, this pact remains unbroken because the writer is at least trying to hold up their end of the bargain.
Rowling continues to ignore the rules of the pact. She frequently references the Harry Potter universe as her world which is accurrate, seeing as how she made it up and everything. She has set up herself up as an inerrant creator, but in trying to to extend, rewrite, and zealously control this world, she has made her word meaningless.
She said in 2014 that Hermione and Ron’s romantic relationship was written as a form of “wish fulfillment” and that Harry and Hermione were a “better fit.” She said in 2015 she regretted killing of Fred Weasly and in 2016 that she was sorry for killing off Lupin.
“It’s my world,” she told Matt Lauer on the Today show in 2015. “And I might choose to step back into it.”
When Harry Potter and the Cursed Child came out this weekend, Rowling told the press “Harry is done now.” I’ll believe it when I see it.
A wise professor once said that part of what makes a painting beautiful is the frame. In seven books, Rowling created a boundless world of imagination and got the world reading again. By constantly reasserting her presence and editing supposedly canonical books she is making millions of dollars by weakening the stories that enchanted readers.
It may be Rowling’s world, but we don’t have to live in it.