J.K. Rowling Is Publishing Her New Children’s Novel Free Online, One Chapter Per Day

Image via Wikimedia Commons

J.K. Rowling may be the queen of children's literature, but how many of her fans have noticed she hasn't published a book for children in nearly thirteen years? Today's twentysomethings will recall fondly the summer of 2007, when they descended upon bookstores for their copy, or copies, of the concluding volume of the Harry Potter series. Thereafter Rowling, no doubt eager to write for an audience closer to her own age, put out the bleak social comedy The Casual Vacancy and a series of crime thrillers under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. Rowling's latest Galbraith novel Troubled Blood is scheduled for publication in the fall of this year, but the current generation of young readers can enjoy her new fairy tale The Ickabog online now as she serializes it for free over the next two months.

"The idea for The Ickabog came to me while I was still writing Harry Potter," says Rowling in an introductory post on her own web site. Having written "most of a first draft in fits and starts between Potter books," she ended up shelving it for nearly a decade. "Over time I came to think of it as a story that belonged to my two younger children, because I’d read it to them in the evenings when they were little, which has always been a happy family memory."




The unfinished manuscript came back to mind more recently as a possible entertainment for children in coronavirus lockdown all over the world. "As I worked to finish the book, I started reading chapters nightly to the family again. This was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my writing life."

With the work now complete, Rowling will "be posting a chapter (or two, or three) every weekday between 26th May and 10th July on The Ickabog website." The first chapter, which is available now, begins as follows:

Once upon a time, there was a tiny country called Cornucopia, which had been ruled for centuries by a long line of fair-haired kings. The king at the time of which I write was called King Fred the Fearless. He’d announced the ‘Fearless’ bit himself, on the morning of his coronation, partly because it sounded nice with ‘Fred’, but also because he’d once managed to catch and kill a wasp all by himself, if you didn’t count five footmen and the boot boy.

This prose will feel familiar to parents who grew up reading Harry Potter themselves, and who will surely be pleased to see Rowling's signature sense of humo(u)r still in effect. These parents can read The Ickabog's weekly installments to their own children, as well as encourage those artistically inclined to contribute their own visuals to the story by participating in the Ickabog illustration competition. "Creativity, inventiveness and effort are the most important things," Rowling notes. "We aren’t necessarily looking for the most technical skill!" She also emphasizes, as regards the story itself, that though its themes include "truth and the abuse of power," it "isn’t intended to be read as a response to anything that’s happening in the world right now." Many factors have contributed to Rowling's great success, but her preference for the timeless over the topical surely isn't a minor one. Read her story here.

Related Content:

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.


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  • eduardo suarez says:

    This woman is a fucking terf, this site should not be sharing her work

  • Kanénas Kaneís says:

    I wonder how many chapters she’ll devote to denying the existence of trans rights?

  • Deh! says:

    Many factors have contributed to Rowling’s great success in helming one of the dullest franchise in the history of movie franchises. Seriously each episode following the boy wizard and his pals from Hogwarts Academy as they fight assorted villains has been indistinguishable from the others. Aside from the gloomy imagery, the series’ only consistency has been its lack of excitement and ineffective use of special effects, all to make magic unmagical, to make action seem inert.

    Perhaps the die was cast when Rowling vetoed the idea of Spielberg directing the series; she made sure the series would never be mistaken for a work of art that meant anything to anybody?just ridiculously profitable cross-promotion for her books. The Harry Potter series might be anti-Christian (or not), but it’s certainly the anti-James Bond series in its refusal of wonder, beauty and excitement. No one wants to face that fact. Now, thankfully, they no longer have to.

    >a-at least the books were good though

    “No!”

    The writing is dreadful; the book was terrible. As I read, I noticed that every time a character went for a walk, the author wrote instead that the character “stretched his legs.”

    I began marking on the back of an envelope every time that phrase was repeated. I stopped only after I had marked the envelope several dozen times. I was incredulous. Rowling’s mind is so governed by cliches and dead metaphors that she has no other style of writing. Later I read a lavish, loving review of Harry Potter by the same Stephen King. He wrote something to the effect of, “If these kids are reading Harry Potter at 11 or 12, then when they get older they will go on to read Stephen King.” And he was quite right. He was not being ironic. When you read “Harry Potter” you are, in fact, trained to read Stephen King.

  • The sorting hat's penis says:

    I wonder how many antisemitic goblins will make an appearance in this one?

  • Karl Reitmann says:

    You seem to be on the evolutionary level of a dung beetle and still criticise a writer who brought happiness to countless children. Interesting times…

  • Deebly goncerned says:

    A bloo hoo hoo someone say mean things about the billionaire terf! Think of de children!

  • Karl Reitmann says:

    Disregard my previous comment, I’m a terf.

  • MS says:

    I love the Harry Potter books and I believe J.K. Rowling is a very talented writer indeed. I am curious about her new book. To all the trolls and goblins: shoo!

  • MS says:

    I love the Harry Potter books and I believe J.K. Rowling is a very talented writer indeed.
    I am curious about her new book and plan to read it. To all the trolls and goblins: shoo!

  • MS says:

    I love my own self importance and I believe I need to state my opinions twice to demonstrate this. I’m curious to learn about the defecation habits of fairies. To all the people pointing out her disgusting comments around trans people: stop making me feel uncomfortable for having a different opinion than my superior one!

  • MS says:

    I love my own self importance and I believe I need to state my opinions twice to demonstrate this. I’m curious to learn about the defecation habits of fairies. To all the people pointing out her disgusting comments around trans people: stop making me feel uncomfortable for having a different opinion!

  • Senesh says:

    I’d love to read another jk Rowling novel . Ik that some ppl hate on her because of her personal opinions and the things she says about the harry potter books these days but what’s important to us readers, personally, I think is how good her writing and books are, if it is interesting or not. Her personal views,life etc don’t concern us. All I know is we love jk Rowling, the author for the awesome books she has written all over the years that made our time worth it, so many happy harry potter memories. And the ickabog rocks the classic writing style of hers, and I’m sure it will be an excellent read!

  • Senesh says:

    PS: What I’m basically saying is that as long as I, and others like me, personally derive enjoyment from something then I don’t give a fuck about the ethical or moral standpoint of the person who created it.

    They can recreationally eat babies, bathe in the blood of endangered species, or deny basic rights to other people and use their fortunes that they’ve amassed to continue to do so, as long as I get to consume that’s really all that matters.

  • lakey says:

    OMG she denied trans existence?

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