The mother of a young cancer patient has written to JK Rowling to thank her for the Harry Potter books, which she says provided her daughter with “a castle for her to move into when the prognosis got worse.”
The moving letter was read out by actresses Carey Mulligan and Ellie Bamber as part of the Letters Live series which is taking place at Freemason’s Hall in London. Other performers who have read powerful letters include Jude Law and Sir Ian McKellen. Benedict Cumberbatch and Olivia Colman are also due to perform.
Bamber read a letter to Rowling by Chrissy Hart who told how she would read the books to her “beautiful little girl” who was ill with cancer.
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Ms Hart told the author the most important lesson the books taught both she and her daughter: “Cancer may take her away from me in just a few short weeks. I might not be able to spare her the pain. But for every child that is taken too early, people will come together, huddling close in a big group, wands held high to light the dark sky with the love they felt. You built Hogwarts as a home for her to return to. And for me.”
Event organisers sadly confirmed Ms Hart’s daughter has now passed away.
Read the letter in full:
Dear J. K. Rowling,
I write to you as a mother, a Mummy, of a beautiful little girl. I'm sure you hear people tell you all the time that your words, your imagination helped them, or their children, in some way. Maybe they were helped out of depression by your works, maybe they drew strength from the knowledge that Neville grew up to be a hero against all odds, maybe you taught a bookish boy that there are friends to be found between the pages of a novel.
I want to share with you what you taught my daughter, who was recently diagnosed with cancer. When I read her your stories, she didn't take to the clear distinction between good and evil, but instead loved the grey characters. You taught her that for every chemo she has to go through, there will be the opportunity to fly across a lake on a hippogriff. For every time her heart seizes with fear of pain, there will be me chasing it away with a patronus charm.
Your words built a castle for her to move into when the prognosis got worse.
Mrs Rowling, cancer threatened to take everything from my daughter, and your books turned out to be the fortress we so desperately needed to hide in.
And the things you taught me?
You made me realise that a mother's courage might come in the form of her tears. I might not have the physical ability to block her from what will take her away from me, but I can be loving and gentle like Molly, stoic in my affection like Minerva, protective and loyal like Hermione, and waiting to welcome her home like Lily.
But the most important lesson you have taught us both: cancer may take her away from me in just a few short weeks. I might not be able to spare her the pain. But for every child that is taken too early, people will come together, huddling close in a big group, wands held high to light the dark sky with the love they felt.
You built Hogwarts as a home for her to return to. And for me.
For that I shall remain forever gratefully yours,
Letters Live, the live celebration of written correspondence, is at Freemasons’ Hall, London from 10-15th March, for tickets please visit letterslive.com.