LONDON: J.K. Rowling is to publish a fairy tale about truth and abuse of power free online so that children can read it during lockdown.
The first chapters will go out Tuesday and then every weekday until July 10, Rowling said on Twitter, adding in capitals: “THIS IS NOT A HARRY POTTER SPIN-OFF.”
Rowling got the idea for “The Ickabog” when she was writing Harry Potter and she intended it to be published after “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” the last of her seven-book Potter series.
The mostly handwritten manuscript of “The Ickabog” ended up in her attic and stayed there for a decade until a few weeks ago, stored in a box from high-end fashion retailer Net-A-Porter. She has rewritten parts of it in recent weeks.
“‘The Ickabog’ is a story about truth and the abuse of power,” said Rowling, 54. “The themes are timeless and could apply to any era or any country.
“To forestall one obvious question,” she added, “the idea came to me well over a decade ago, so it isn’t intended to be read as a response to anything that’s happening in the world right now.”
The first chapters of the fairy tale will be published on ‘The Ickabog’ website Tuesday at 1400 GMT.
“I’ve decided to publish ‘The Ickabog’ for free online, so children on lockdown, or even those back at school during these strange, unsettling times, can read it or have it read to them,” Rowling said. “I’d like children to illustrate the book for me! Let your imaginations run wild!”
Rowling said she would donate her author royalties to projects and organisations helping the groups most impacted by COVID-19.
“Until very recently,” she said, “the only people who’d heard the story of ‘The Ickabog’ were my two younger children.”
Rowling first came up with the idea for Harry Potter in 1990, though “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” only appeared in 1997.
The Harry Potter books tell the saga of a young wizard’s battle with evil in the form of Lord Voldemort. The series has been translated into over 80 languages and sold more than 500 million copies worldwide.
“Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” has become one of the world’s best-selling books, alongside “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “The Master and Margarita.”