JK Rowling discusses her mother’s fight with multiple sclerosis: 'She never knew about Harry Potter'

The Harry Potter author tells of her mother’s tragic death

JK Rowling has spoken of the pain of her late mother never knowing about her success.

The author’s mother, Anne, suffered from multiple sclerosis and died in 1990 at the age of 45, before Rowling had achieved literary fame.

“Yes, she didn't know, she never knew about Harry Potter - I started writing it six months before she died, so that is painful,” Rowling said. “I wish she'd known.

“My mother was a passionate reader, and she would have been excited whatever I did, if I succeeded at anything, but particularly to be a writer, she would have considered that to be a very valuable thing.”

This morning,  the author became the first guest editor on BBC Radio 4’s Women Hour in 60 years. She will be followed by Doreen Lawrence, Kelly Holmes and Naomi Alderman later this week.

The Harry Potter novelist opened up about the difficulties of seeing her mother’s condition worsen and the “enormous impact” it had on family life. She was diagnosed aged just 35, when Rowling was still a teenager.

“She always seemed very young,” she said. “She was very fit, she was a non-smoker, non-drinker, and I say all of this because of course then for her to be diagnosed at 35 with an illness that would kill her was just the most enormous shock to us and everyone who knew her.”

“I was a teenager, but yes, it had the most enormous impact on our family life, and my mother, by the time she was diagnosed, she was quite ill,” recalled Rowling.

“She had been showing symptoms for a few years and didn't know what they were, so by the time she was diagnosed, her health was deteriorating, so it wasn't just the spectre of the unknown, it was dealing with the daily reality of somebody who's starting not to be able to walk as well as they had, and for such an active person that was a real privation.”

MS affects 100,000 people in the UK, traditionally people aged between 20 and 40. Symptoms include fatigue, difficulty in walking and vision problems.

Last week, it was announced that Rowling’s first adult novel, The Casual Vacancy, is to become a television miniseries, co-produced by the BBC and HBO.

Read more: Rowling pay tribute to Sue Townsend
Could you be the next JK Rowling?
Our review of The Casual Vacancy
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