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J.K. Rowling, please keep Harry Potter revisionist history to yourself

Harry, Hermione and Ron narrowly escape attack in the first half of the final movie. (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Shortly after the last Harry Potter novel — “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” — was published in 2007, author J.K. Rowling revealed that one of the main characters, Hogwarts headmaster and master wizard Albus Dumbledore, was gay. There was no indication in the books that this was the case, so her disclosure left one wondering why she hadn’t let her readers know that when they were actually reading the books.  She had seven novels in which she could have let her readers know her full vision for Dumbledore.

Now, seven years later, Rowling has decided that the brainy Hermione Granger should have, after all, not wound up marrying the less brilliant Ron Weasley but rather Harry Potter himself. She made the following comments in a magazine, Wonderland,  which was guest edited by Emma Watson, the actress who played Hermione. The magazine edition is coming out later this week;  excerpts were published by  The Sunday Times:

 “I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment. That’s how it was conceived, really. For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron.”

“I know, I’m sorry,” she adds. “I can hear the rage and fury it might cause some fans, but if I’m absolutely honest, distance has given me perspective on that. It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility. Am I breaking people’s hearts by saying this? I hope not.”

Watson was then quoted as agreeing, saying:

“I think there are fans out there who know that too and who wonder whether Ron would have really been able to make her happy.”

Really? Putting Hermione and Ron together was somehow less credible than, say, a story about a boy who talks to snakes but doesn’t know why until a giant of a man comes and saves him from his hideous relatives and takes him to a magical world where he discovers he is a wizard and wields a fierce wand with which he fights his arch enemy who killed his parents and in the process left a little piece of himself behind in the boy?

Rowling wrote the books and published them and millions of people young and old fell in love with them. They are no longer just her stories; they belong to everyone who embraced them.

Award-winning novelist John Green said this about his own books:

“They belong to their readers now, which is a great thing–because the books are more powerful in the hands of my readers than they could ever be in my hands.”

J.K. Rowling should leave Harry Potter alone. If she has any more thoughts about what she should have written instead of what she actually wrote, she should consider keeping them to herself..

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.



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Valerie Strauss · February 4, 2014

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