Harry Potter


"2 Harry Potter Spinoffs Done for Charity"

by David Kirkpatrick ("New York Times," March 12, 2001)

Turning her creative prowess to a philanthropic cause, J. K. Rowling, author of the best-selling novels about the boy-wizard Harry Potter, has managed to turn about a month of writing into a donation expected to top $36 million.
Ms. Rowling's publishers, Scholastic in the United States and Bloomsbury in Britain, are releasing today two new books she wrote to raise money for the British charity Comic Relief. Under the fictional names Kennilworthy Whisp and Newt Scamander, Ms. Rowling has written two slender, pocket-size paperbacks that purport to be tomes alluded to in the fantasy world of her Harry Potter novels.
British Comic Relief, which is not related to the American charity of the same name, raises money for children's organizations through a telethon called "Red Nose Day" and through the sale of merchandise including red-nosed masks.
About 13 months ago, Richard Curtis, a co-founder of the organization, wrote to Ms. Rowling seeking a donation of some kind, perhaps a drawing or signed edition. Instead, Ms. Rowling volunteered to write the two spin-off books.
Publishers, printers, bookstores, and other companies involved in the production and sale of the books are contributing their services for free or at reduced cost. Each book costs $3.99 in bookstores, and Comic Relief will receive about $3 for each copy sold, Mr. Curtis said.
Mr. Curtis said the publishers planned an initial run of about 12 million copies around the world. Expected to yield over $36 million for Comic Relief, the proceeds will be the organization's largest single contribution. "That is pretty spectacular when you think that it is just one woman typing in Edinburgh," he said.
Both novels will likely appeal mainly to die-hard Harry Potter fans.
"Quidditch Through the Ages," by Mr. Whisp, chronicles the history of an imaginary team-sport played on broom sticks. "Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them," by Mr. Scamander, is an alphabetical guide to "magizoology," with Harry Potter's scribbled annotations throughout. An informative introduction explains how and why wizards conceal magical creatures from the rest of us.