Readersforum's Blog

August 1, 2013

JK Rowling accepts damages from law firm that revealed her secret identity

callingJK Rowling has accepted damages at London’s High Court from a law firm which outed her as a crime author, after one of its lawyers confided her secret identity to his wife’s best friend.

By Alice Philipson

The Harry Potter author brought proceedings against Chris Gossage, who works for law firm Russells, and a friend of his, Judith Callegari.

Her solicitor, Jenny Afia, told Mr Justice Tugendhat that Rowling was revealed in the Sunday Times as the writer of crime novel The Cuckoo’s Calling, which was published under the name of Robert Galbraith.

A few days later, Russells contacted her agent disclosing that it was Mr Gossage who had divulged the confidential information to his wife’s best friend, Ms Callegari, during a private conversation. Ms Callegari later revealed the news in a public Twitter message to a Sunday Times journalist

Ms Afia said that Ms Rowling, who was not in court, “has been left dismayed and distressed by such a fundamental betrayal of trust”.

Mr Gossage, Ms Callegari and Russells all apologised, with the firm agreeing to reimburse Ms Rowling’s legal costs and make a payment, by way of damages, to the Soldiers’ Charity, formerly the Army Benevolent Fund.

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June 17, 2013

Storyville: 3 Essential Books You Should Read in Every Major Genre

storyville-masterBy Richard Thomas

This list is entirely subjective, based on books that I’ve read over the years. But what they all have in common is that they’ve stayed with me. Many of these titles I’ve read over and over again. Some are touchstones, lodestones that I reference when I get blocked, bowing at the feet of masters that have taught me everything I’ve ever learned about what makes compelling fiction. I’m hoping that you’ve read most of these and will spend much of this column nodding your head in agreement. More importantly, I hope you find some new authors and novels that will enlighten you at some point down the road.

NOTE: The genres I’ve picked are “major” to me, not to publishing in general. In leaving out romance, for example. I’m not saying it’s unimportant, just not for me. As you know, I tend to be drawn to dark writing, so that’s probably easy to see in these selections, including the YA and literary fiction.

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May 22, 2013

Harry Potter first edition featuring JK Rowling drawings sells for £150,000

PotterAuction of tomes scribbled upon and annotated by their authors raises total of £440,000 for English Pen writers’ association.

By Ben Quinn

A first edition copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, with author JK Rowling’s notes and original illustrations, was sold for £150,000 at auction in London.

The book, which was auctioned by Sotheby’s at a charity sale in aid of the English Pen writers’ association, was purchased by an anonymous bidder by telephone.

The annotations by Rowling include comments on the process of writing and a section from an early draft of the novel, along with a number of illustrations drawn by her and a note on how she came to invent Quidditch, a sport played by characters in the books.

She and others had been asked to “scribble second thoughts, marginalia or drawings” on a first edition copy of one of their books for the event, which raised £439,200 in total.

A copy of Roald Dahl’s bestselling children’s book Matilda, containing new drawings by illustrator Quentin Blake, fetched £30,000, while an annotated copy of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel The Remains of the Day went for £18,000.

In other lots, a copy of Julian Barnes’s Metroland sold for £14,000, a copy of Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader fetched £11,000 and a copy of Seamus Heaney’s Death of a Naturalist was bought for £17,000. A copy of Colm Tóibín’s The Heather Blazing was sold for £15,500.

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April 23, 2013

TES poll reveals teachers’ favourite reads

| By Joshua Farrington

A list of teachers’ favourite books compiled by the Times Educational Supplement (TES) has declared Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice as number one. Harper Lee’s popular school text, To Kill a Mockingbird, came in second, while JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series came in third.

500 teachers responded to an online survey to name their favourite books, to create a list which TES editor Gerard Kelly called: “a masterpiece of erudition and entertainment” which “could be one of the few things that Michaels Gove and Rosen agree on”.

In the magazine’s leader column, he wrote: “Strip out the children’s books, the inclusion of which is only to be expected from people whose job it is to engage children, and what you are left with is a pretty canonical list. There’s enough Dickens, Steinbeck, Hardy, Wilde, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Hugo and Eliot to satisfy even the most conservative of politicians, and of course, plenty of modern greats: Kerouac, Ishiguro, Roy and Plath, to please the modernists.”

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October 9, 2012

JK Rowling: I will return to writing children’s books

Filed under: Authors — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 7:45 pm

JK Rowling will return to writing children’s books following the publication of The Casual Vacancy, her first novel for adults.

By Roya Nikkhah

The author, who has been reluctant to say whether she would return to children’s fiction after finishing the Harry Potter series, confirmed that her next book would be for young children.

“As the writer of Harry Potter, I’m always nervous of committing myself to another children’s book, but yes, the next thing I write will be for children,” she said.

“I have a lot of things on my laptop currently, including a couple of things for children – for a slightly younger age group than Harry Potter was aimed at – which are nearly done and will, I think, be the next thing I publish. I have run them by my children and they seem to like them which is always a good sign.

“I also have some ideas for another book for adults but it isn’t too far on [in development].”

The Casual Vacancy has been described as a “sexually explicit tale of ruthless snobbery and bourgeois hypocrisy”.

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September 27, 2012

JK Rowling: The Casual Vacancy – review

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , — Bookblurb @ 8:24 am

The author’s first book for adults features drugs, sex and swearing – things that Harry Potter probably never dreamed of.

By Theo Tait

They call it “denial marketing”: the process whereby the contents of JK Rowling’s books are guarded like the crown jewels until publication day. It made sense with Harry Potter, when the world and his dog wanted to know what had happened to the boy wizard and his dastardly foes. But it creates a slight anti-climax in the case of The Casual Vacancy, a novel concerning a parish council election in a small West Country town.

There are some superficial excitements here, in that the younger characters get up to things that Harry probably never dreamed of: taking drugs, swearing, self-harming, having grimy casual sex, singing along to Rihanna. The new book contains regular outbursts of four-letter words, along with the memorable phrase “that miraculously unguarded vagina” – which, leaked in a pre-publication profile, has caused a flurry of jokes on Twitter about Harry Potter and the Miraculously Unguarded Vagina.

Generally, though, The Casual Vacancy is a solid, traditional and determinedly unadventurous English novel.

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September 25, 2012

JK Rowling’s portrayal of ‘snobby’ villagers is not based on us, say West Country residents

JK Rowling said she drew on real life for The Casual Vacancy, but locals in her old home village say the portrayal of snobby residents is “fantasy”.

By Richard Alleyne and Anita Singh

When JK Rowling needed a setting for The Casual Vacancy, her first novel for adults, she didn’t have to stretch her imagination too far.

The author has claimed she drew on her own upbringing near the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire for her tale of a “snobby” middle-class community riven by provincial politics.

However, residents of the area where Rowling grew up say they do not recognise the fictional West Country village of Pagford, where the professional classes can barely hide their loathing for the inhabitants of a neighbouring sink estate.

Locals in Tutshill, Gloucestershire, say that any resemblance between their community and Pagford is as much a fantasy as the Harry Potter franchise that earned Rowling a £620 million fortune.

The author’s years as a struggling single mother, living on benefits and writing the first Potter book in an Edinburgh café are common knowledge. Less well known is the fact that from the age of nine until she left for Exeter University, Rowling lived a middle-class existence in Grade II-listed Church Cottage in Tutshill, a small community on the English side of Chepstow, the Wye Valley market town which straddles the Welsh border.

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JK Rowling: ‘The worst that can happen is that everyone says, That’s shockingly bad’

Harry Potter sold millions and made her one of the richest women in the world. Now JK Rowling has written her first book for grown-ups. But is the magic still there?

By Decca Aitkenhead

JK Rowling’s new novel arrives with the high drama and state secrecy of a royal birth. Its due date is announced in February, and in April the disclosure of its title, The Casual Vacancy, makes international news. The release of the cover image in July commands headlines again, and Fleet Street commissions a “design guru” to deconstruct its inscrutable aesthetic, in search of clues as to what might lie within. Waterstones predicts the novel will be “the bestselling fiction title this year”. Literary critics begin to publish preliminary reviews, revealing what they think they will think about a book they have not yet even read.

I am required to sign more legal documents than would typically be involved in buying a house before I am allowed to read The Casual Vacancy, under tight security in the London offices of Little, Brown. Even the publishers have been forbidden to read it, and they relinquish the manuscript gingerly, reverently, as though handling a priceless Ming vase. Afterwards, I am instructed never to disclose the address of Rowling’s Edinburgh office where the interview will take place. The mere fact of the interview is deemed so newsworthy that Le Monde dispatches a reporter to investigate how it was secured. Its prospect begins to assume the mystique of an audience with Her Majesty – except, of course, that Rowling is famously much, much richer than the Queen.

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March 29, 2012

How Pottermore cast an ebook spell over Amazon

Digital magic ... JK Rowling at the launch of Pottermore, the website created to sell ebook versions of her Harry Potter books. Photograph: Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images

…And why Harry Potter’s move into epublishing is digital magic

By Philip Jones

Take a look at Amazon’s ebook site and do a search for Harry Potter books and you will see something genuinely marvellous. Something that will warm the cockles of every publisher in the land, and perhaps even a few booksellers too.

Well, for a start, you will see that for the first time since the series began in 1997, official ebook versions of all seven titles in the Potter series are being sold.

But something even more remarkable has happened. In bringing these books to the digital marketplace, Pottermore, the business created to sell the ebooks, has forced Amazon into perhaps the biggest climbdown in its corporate history.

Instead of buying the ebooks through the Amazon e-commerce system, the buy link takes the customer off to Pottermore to complete the purchase, with the content seamlessly delivered to their Kindle device. It is the first time I’ve known Amazon to allow a third party to “own” that customer relationship, while also allowing that content to be delivered to its device. Amazon gets something like an affiliates’ fee from this transaction, much less than it would expect to receive selling an ebook through normal conditions. Schadenfreude doesn’t even come close.

 

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March 9, 2012

100 books that defined the noughties

Zadie Smith

Zadie, Nigella, Steig and, of course, the boy wizard. The decade has seen publishing phenomenons like no other, but which books, for better or worse, have summed up the noughties?

By Brian MacArthur

Never in the history of bookselling has there been such a phenomenon as Harry Potter; JK Rowling’s series sold in tens of millions and appealed to adults as well as children. The great success of the British book trade this decade was the Richard & Judy Book Club. It ran in the late afternoon on Channel 4, and made instant bestsellers of Victoria Hislop, Audrey Niffenegger and Zoë Heller, among others. The 100 titles they selected sold 30 million copies.

A decade defined in Britain by Tony Blair is represented in this list by two revealing books about the making of New Labour and the rivalries, quarrels and often poisonous relationships among the leading personalities – Cherie Blair’s memoir and Alastair Campbell’s diaries.

Across the world, it was a decade defined in blood by al-Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks on America, which precipitated the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – see books by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Ed Husain, Ahmed Rashid and Khaled Hosseini.

It was also the decade of often tawdry celebrities, such as Russell Brand and Ashley Cole, and those, such as Katie Price, who didn’t even pretend to write their own books. Alan Hollinghurst won the Man Booker Prize for an explicitly gay novel; Ian McEwan rose above his rivals as the country’s pre-eminent literary novelist; and a black man became president of the United States – and wrote two bestsellers.

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