Harry Potter

"Harry Potter author calls for better deal for single mothers"

("Guardian Unlimited," October 4, 2000)

Harry Potter's creator, JK Rowling, today called for an end to negative stereotyping of single parenthood and also revealed that she is to donate £500,000 to a charity which campaigns for single parents. In a speech to mark her appointment as an ambassador for the National Council for One Parent Families (NCOPF), Rowling, a single mother herself, said: "It is definitely time we exploded the popular myth that most of us [lone parents] are feckless teenagers trying to get council flats. Only 3% of us are teenagers; 60% of us have been married and are now separated, divorced or bereaved.
"I'd like to see widespread acceptance of the fact that families simply come in many shapes and sizes."
Rowling, 34, who has brought up her daughter Jessica, seven, since her marriage broke down seven years ago, said: "Mine maybe the smallest variety you can get, but we are as much a family as the Waltons or the Weasleys [characters in the Harry Potter novels]."
She urged the public not to see poverty and single motherhood as inevitable and inseparable facts. "Six out of 10 families headed by a single parent are living in poverty. But none of the lone parents I know want to live on handouts. Just like parents living in couples, we want the chance to provide properly for our own children."
Although Rowling conceded that her success maybe linked to "a certain wizard" she said she would have been lucky anyway in comparison to most or some other single mothers. "I had a degree, a profession and friends who were willing and able to lend me money when I badly needed it. So if I met obstacles in pulling myself out of the benefit system and back into employment, how much more difficult must it be for people who don't have the same advantages?
"If I experienced the feeling of utter, utter worthlessness with the CSA [child support agency] and the benefit office how many other parents are going through the same right now?"
Rowling's books about the young boy who finds out he is a wizard have made best-seller lists around the world and earned her more than £20m. Last year, her place in the list of Britain's highest earning women was topped only by the Spice Girls.
Rowling said her £500,000 donation to the NCOPF would help it with the establishment of a new website: www.oneparentfamilies.org.uk.