JK Rowling: Six biggest talking points from the Witch Trials podcast

The first two episodes of a new podcast exploring the life and career of JK Rowling aired on Tuesday (21 February).

Titled The Witch Trials of JK Rowling, the podcast is a seven-part interview conducted by American writer Megan Phelps-Roper, who visited the 57-year-old Harry Potter novelist at her home in Edinburgh in May and August last year.

In the first two episodes, Rowling addressed topics including her traumatic miscarriage, Harry Potter, and her controversial remarks on transgender issues.

Below are the six biggest talking points from the first two episodes of The Witch Trials of JK Rowling.

Rowling opens up about her traumatic miscarriage before having her daughter

JK Rowling reflected on going through a traumatic miscarriage in her twenties, before she gave birth to her daughter Jessica.

The author revealed that she became pregnant “accidentally” a year after moving in with her then-boyfriend.

“While pregnant, he proposed to me. And then I lost the baby,” she recalled. “ I miscarried, which was hugely traumatic. It was traumatic physically and traumatic emotionally, and that was another massive loss. I was certainly not in a balanced state of mind.”


“When I lost the baby, I do remember having a moment, in my grief for the baby, I do remember having a moment where I thought, ‘So we’re not going to get married. That’s clear, right?’ I’m almost speaking to myself, like, ‘That’s clear Jo, we’re not going to marry this guy’.

Rowling added: “But he was putting huge pressure on me to get married. So I went through with it. And then, became pregnant almost immediately after we were married, which is a joyful thing because I cannot imagine a world without my Jessica. So, in with all the bad, there was an amazing, wonderful thing [that] came out with it and that was my daughter.”

Rowling opened up about her mother’s death

The Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them author opened up about losing her mother in her mid-twenties in her new podcast.

Rowling told Phelps-Roper: “I was in a real period of flux at the time, my mother was very ill, I had moved from London to Manchester. And then my mother died, actually on the night of 30 December 1990. But I didn’t realise she died until the early hours of New Year’s Eve.

“She was 45. She’d been ill for a very long time, but none of us realised that death was imminent. That kind of took a wrecking ball to my life, really. To me, this decade now is infused with loss.”

Rowling was 24 when her mother, Anne Volant Rowling, died of complications linked to multiple sclerosis.

Rowling claimed her statements about trans people have been ‘profoundly’ misunderstood

After facing a sustained backlash in recent years for statements she has made about trans people, Rowling said that she “never set out to upset anyone”.

“I never set out to upset anyone. However, I was not uncomfortable with getting off my pedestal,” Rowling said.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Rowling brushed off concerns over legacy in light of trans views

JK Rowling shrugged off concerns that she may have destroyed her legacy over her views on transgender rights.

Asked by Phelps-Roper if she thought about her legacy and how things she said impacted how she’d be viewed in years to come, the author said: “Whatever. I’ll be dead.”

She added: “I think you could not have misunderstood me more profoundly. I do not walk around my house thinking about my legacy, what a pompous way to live your life thinking about what my legacy will be. Whatever! I’ll be dead, I care about now, the living.”

Rowling describes sneaking the Harry Potter manuscript out of home while preparing to leave her then-husband

On the podcast, Rowling spoke about the period when she was planning to leave her husband, Jorge Arantes, and removed her Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone manuscript from her home, “a few pages” at a time.

Rowling said that she “left [Arantes] twice before I left for good”, and was planning to leave him for the last time while pregnant with her daughter.

“He’s not a stupid person,” she said. “I think he knew, or suspected, that I was going to bolt again. It was a horrible state of tension to live in.”

Rowling said that throughout this period, she kept writing and “the [Harry Potter] manuscript kept growing”.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

“He knew what that manuscript meant to me, because at a point, he took the manuscript and hid it, and that was his hostage,” she said. “When I realised that I was going to go – this was it, I was definitely going – I would take a few pages of the manuscript into work every day.

“Just a few pages, so he wouldn’t realise anything was missing, and I would photocopy it. And gradually, in a cupboard in the staff room, bit by bit, a photocopied manuscript grew and grew and grew.”

Rowling described “violence” in her first marriage

JK Rowling spoke in more detail about her experience of domestic abuse in her first marriage.

The author claimed that her marriage to ex-husband Jorge Arantes became “very violent and very controlling”.

She said she didn’t have a “key to my own front door because he’s got control of the front door” and alleged that whenever she did leave the house and returned, he would look through her handbag.”

“The only thing beyond that that I prioritised was obviously my daughter, but at that point she’s still inside me, so she’s as safe as can be in that situation.”

Rowling and Arantes’ marriage lasted 18 months between 1992 and 1993.

Anyone who requires help or support can contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline which is open 24/7 365 days per year on 0808 2000 247 or via their website www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk/