Earlier today, across the pond, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling sat down with BBC 4 Radio’s Jane Garvey as the first Guest Editor for the Women’s Hour Takeover program to discuss topics that are very important in her daily life.
Rowling began with story of her mother, Anne Rowling, who was diagnosed with an extremely aggressive form of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) at the age of 35. MS affects roughly 100,000 people in the UK, with Scotland having the highest instance in the world, and women three times as more likely to develop the disease as men. She recounts that having a chronic illness in the family does change the dynamic, but remembers her mother fondly as she was at her happiest and also expresses some regret that her mother never knew about the world of Harry Potter before she passed away. “My mother was a passionate reader,” Rowling lovingly tells. “She would have been excited whatever I did, if I succeeded at anything, but particularly to be a writer—she would have considered to be a very valuable thing.” In Anne’s memory, Rowling has worked with the University of Edinburgh to found the Anne Rowling Clinic, which hosts research and continues to make great strides in the field of neural regeneration.
Next, Rowling raves about her love for the Scottish rugby team. Apparently wizards all over support this sport, as was evident during the 2014 Six Nations Rugby Championships when Rowling tweeted, “Wizards worldwide support the Scottish rugby team. It’s an old, magical tradition.” Women’s and girl’s rugby teams are growing each day in Scotland, and have found great acceptance with the already-present men’s teams.
Moving back into a more serious topic, Rowling begins to discuss the disturbing situation of European children living in care institutions. The shocking fact is that 4 out of 5 of these children actually have one or both living parents, but the parents are unable to support and care for them. Many of the children in these institutions have mental disabilities and are not given the needed care for their conditions. Rowling, on the verge of tears, recalls a time that she visited one of these institutions and three children with cerebral palsy were resorted to lying on a bed, side-by-side, instead of being given proper treatment. Knowing firsthand about the harsh conditions and lives that these children face, Rowling founded her charity ‘Lumos’ to work with the government to help remove these children from derelict situations and place them back into loving and healthy care. She said, “I want to use my power for good, not for evil…You can change lives just by writing a letter, so I would encourage people to get involved and do what they can.” More about ‘Lumos’ can be found here.
Lastly, Rowling talks about her love for shoes! She has always been fascinated by the roles shoes play in various stories and fairytales, and what they represent to the readers. Many times, men’s shoes will represent power, strength, and brute force, while women’s shoes will represent delicateness and coming into womanhood. Rowling believes that women, in particular, love shoes so much because they have different shoes for different reasons, and each pair holds a bit of their personality.
To sum up her chat with advice she wishes someone would have told her in her earlier years, Rowling powerfully states, “It’s impossible to live without failing unless you live so cautiously that you never do anything, in which case you fail by default…Be who you are.”