J.K. Rowling on the Theme of Evil in Harry Potter Books


“Death is an extremely important theme throughout all seven books, I would say possibly the most important theme. If you are writing about evil, which I am, and if you are writing about someone who is essentially a psychopath, you have a duty to show the real evil of taking human life.

It’s very interesting how parents think that they have the right to dictate to you because you’re writing reading materials for their children. I got a horrible letter on book 2 – very, very stuffy letter – from a mother saying, ‘This is a very disturbing ending, and I’m sure a writer of your ability would be able to think of a better way to end the next book.’ So basically, ‘liked it two thirds of the way through but if you could really address this issue in the future and I’ll be back in touch if I find you unacceptable.’

And it was at that point I snapped.

I wrote back and said, ‘Don’t read the rest of the books. Yours sincerely, J. Rowling.’ There was no point, I mean, I’m not taking dictation here.

Do I care about my readers? Profoundly and deeply, but, do I ultimately think that they should dictate a single word of what I write? No. No, I am the only one who should be in control of that. And I’m not writing to make anyone’s children feel safe.”

–J.K. Rowling, A&E Biography

A&E Biography videos: part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5



  1. i think it is amazing how unloving and overcritical “christians” can be. i wouldnt doubt at all if that letter was from some paranoid “christian” who was against rowling’s books because they dealt with magic and death and whatnot.

    personally, i believe that its important (as rowling says) for children to understand some things about death and killing. especially in our suburbia, where death is so distant, it is easy for children not to truly understand the terrible consequences of killing. i am not advocating showing the videos of people being beheaded or anything. but i think that rowling makes a great point about the good in writing about death and killing and evil in “children’s books”.


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