i Editor's Letter: I owe JK Rowling


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The Independent Online


I have only ever met the blessed JK Rowling in as much as you can ever meet someone who is sitting behind a table laden with new books, signing copies for fans. The fans were my own pre-teen girls in a street behind the publishers Scholastic in SoHo, downtown Manhattan, that had been entirely, even magically, transformed to resemble Diagon Alley.

I've said before that we queued at midnight, my wide-eyed girls and I, excited for the launch of a book so big that they could barely lift it; which they'd asked permission to read "straight through, all-night in one go. Really!"

Like many parents of a certain age, I somehow feel I owe JK Rowling, despite having spent an absolute fortune on the novels, the cinema tickets, the DVDs, the memorabilia and most recently, the "tour" at the studios. Why?

Because, we all forget now that she gave birth to Harry in an era when every expert opined that our children were lost to books and reading forever. That Sega (remember them) and MTV, Friends and Nintendo meant that our children would lack the attention span to read books any longer, let alone long books.

Were they right, those experts? They were probably ahead of me "in the line" that magical Manhattan night, and they will probably be queueing ahead of you this morning at Waterstones to buy A Casual Vacancy, Rowling's first novel for adults. Harry Potter became the backdrop to an entire generation.

Seldom have I ever wanted someone I don't know to succeed more. And for inspiring a generation of children to read, I feel we all owe Joanne Rowling.