Scruton, Pam. "Jo in Glasgow (longish - 'cos we enjoyed it)" [forum posting about J.K. Rowling reading for Maggie's Cancer Caring Centre], Harry Potter for Grown-ups, December 9, 2000.

[Editor's note] To date, this forum posting seems to be the most complete record of this event. If you have a recording or transcipt, please contact us at

This morning found around a thousand people (all ages, all sexes) waiting in the pouring rain to get into Ms Rowling's Glasgow reading (for the Maggie's Cancer Caring Centre). We all had tickets but as the seats were unreserved it was first come, first to get a good seat. My husband (not yet an HP reader) was astounded to find that although we arrived well before the doors were due to open there were already a couple of hundred people there. It was a very cheerful crowd though, despite getting progressively wetter!

An unexpected bonus was the appearance of three snakes, an iguana (didn't realize they had such long tails), a couple of rats and a barn owl all with their keepers from Glasgow Zoo to talk about some of the creatures in Harry Potter and their Muggle equivalents.

Then Jo read some of Goblet of Fire (she's got a great Mad-Eye Moody voice), having first told us which page number she was starting on and then waiting for the book and page rustling to die down as people (mostly children) found the place to follow her reading. After that she took questions from the audience. She was absolutely delighted to find a pair of 'Weasley twins' - a pair of red-haired twin boys, 8 years old.

I don't think she told us anything that hasn't been said before. She likes to be called Jo and people all over the world usually do call her Jo when asked, with the exception of the USA where, apparently, they persist in addressing her as JK!

I was interested to hear that the two Comic Relief books are now finished and will be out as scheduled in March. When she said that book 5 would be Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix she was surprised at the audience reaction - clearly she thought that most people had heard about that already. Phoenix will be shorter than Goblet but longer than Azkaban and she hasn't finished writing it yet. I knew that she had had problems writing Goblet but was very surprised to learn that she had written and re-written Chapter 9 no less than thirteen times and almost gave up but was afraid she might get lynched if she did.

In response to a specific Goblet question she first ascertained if there was ANYONE in the hall who had NOT read the book and finding that there were a few she would not answer the question in public but promised to answer it if the questioner (little girl of about 9) came to see her at the book signing afterwards.

Jo thinks that Durmstrang is in northern Scandinavia - the very north of Sweden or Norway and that Beauxbatons is somewhere near Cannes in the south of France. She says she doesn't know for certain because, of course, the exact whereabouts of these schools is a closely- guarded secret to which she is not privy! She confirmed that she may well kill off more characters but probably not the Dursleys because it is too much fun torturing them! She said that Harry wasn't based on anyone in particular but came totally out of her head. She said that Gilderoy Lockheart, on the other hand, was based on a real person - with very few changes - but she wouldn't tell us on whom and she said the real-life character was too dim ever to realize that he was the inspiration for Gilderoy.

She was asked about the film and she confirmed the November 2001 release date and said that the only reason she had sold the film rights was so that she could watch a Quidditch match. She said that she had seen some of the film but didn't express any sort of opinion about it - in fact my heart rather sank when she paused reflectively and said, "We shall see." Somehow I felt that if she had thought the film came at all close to her view of the HP world she would have been a lot more enthusiastic.

At the end members of the audience were invited up onto the stage, row by row, to have their books signed (one book per person, no dedications - much to the chagrin of a few people who seemed to have brought rucksacks full of books to be signed).

It was a most enjoyable morning - we will all quite happily stand in the rain waiting to hear Jo Rowling any time!


Original page date 30 June 2007; last updated 30 June 2007.