DWJ's answers: Harry Potter

Philip.Belben at powertech.co.uk Philip.Belben at powertech.co.uk
Thu Aug 30 10:00:02 EDT 2001

> (Sorry if this has already been covered - I have looked through the archives
> but didn't see anything.)

Well, it's certainly been _discussed,_ but I don't think it's been _covered._

> DWJ's comments about Harry Potter plus a programme yesterday on the
> television about J K Rowling have made me think again about the HP books
> (of wch I am not a fan). I'm a bit baffled about why DWJ explicitly says JKR
> was influenced by her:
> DWJ: "I enjoyed the Harry Potter books, but I did find some parts of them
> strangely familiar."
> Apart from the magical milieu, I can't see many similarities. Yes, in Witch
> Week DWJ uses a boarding school setting, but it's not a school to teach magic,
> and there are other much more striking examples - the Worst Witch books, for
> instance. The book DWJ refers to is Charmed Life, but the basic proposition of
> the hero developing magic talents has been used in many other books (Susan
> Cooper's, for example).
> So two questions. Firstly, can anyone point to more striking similarities
> between DWJ and JKR? Secondly, has anyone seen any interviews with JKR where
> she has discussed her literary influences? The stories told about how the idea
> of Harry Potter can to her on a train seem to imply an out-of-nowhere
> conception.

Well, I'm not much of a fan of HP either - I haven't even read Goblet of Fire

Like Bettina and Sally, the thing I object to most is the way JKR's fans ignore
the background of children's fantasy from which her books have come, and treat
HP as an isolated phenomenon.

I too found no _striking_ similarities - more that DWJ is (to our minds of
course) the first example that springs to mind of the sort of influence JKR must
have soaked up in her formative years as a proto-writer.

My father picked instantly on a Roald Dahl influence in Harry's adoptive family,
and I too think that this owes more to Dahl than to (say) Eight Days of Luke or

In fact the striking similarity I noticed was with "The Little Broomstick" by
Mary Stewart - one of her rare children's books.  This is an excellent book,
written at the same time that DWJ was starting to write novels for children, and
shows what stiff competition DWJ might have had to face, had MS taken her
writing in that direction...

Philip (who'd rather have studied at Hogwarts than Endor)

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