Templeton, Sarah-Kate. "How Lolita inspired Harry Potter," The Sunday Herald, 21 May 2000

The famously reclusive millionaire writer JK Rowling has revealed that even as a child she hid away from the world, burying herself in books and daydreams.

She describes herself as a "squat, bespectacled child" and admits that she was as obsessed with Jane Austen as many of her readers are with her tales of Harry Potter.

But while Rowling's fans might whizz through Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban just to start reading it all over again, Rowling ploughed through Austen's Emma at "least 20 times".

But, most surprisingly, the single-mother chose Vladimir Nabakov's Lolita, the controversial tale of a paedophile's love for a 12-year-old girl whose life he ruins through abuse, as one of her favourite novels.

Speaking in a rare interview for a new Radio 4 series about famous people's favourite books, she confides: "There are two books whose final lines make me cry without fail, irrespective of how many times I read them, and one is Lolita. There is so much I could say about this book.

"There just isn't enough time to discuss how a plot that could have been the most worthless pornography becomes, in Nabakov's hands, a great and tragic love story, and I could exhaust my reservoir of superlatives trying to describe the quality of the writing."

Despite her recent reclusive behaviour, the author discloses that, all her life, she has been enchanted by the idea of large families. She says one of the motivations behind her Harry Potter books was the ability to create a big family for herself.

She says: "I have always been drawn to the idea of large families, even as a child The Harry Potter books were my chance to create my own, ideal big family, and my hero is never happier than when holidaying with the seven Wesleys."

And in a poem which the author dedicates to her six-year-old daughter Jessica, the author cherishes laughter and friendship above all else.

Joanne Rowling has become increasingly reclusive since she became Britain's third richest woman and a celebrated publishing phenomenon. Neighbours have told how the world famous author, who, up until earlier this year lived in a two-bedroom flat in one of Edinburgh's less affluent areas, refused to say hello to people living next door.

Others have claimed she has become so obsessive about her privacy that she has screamed at people who have approached her for an autograph.