JK Rowling has responded to the backlash she received after sharing her views on gender identity, saying she “never set out to upset anyone”.
The 57-year-old is one of the most successful authors of all time – her seven Harry Potter books published between 1997 and 2007 sold more than 500 million copies worldwide.
But she has been criticised for her views on gender identity, which came to light in a number of tweets she published in 2020.
Speaking in a new podcast titled The Witch Trials of JK Rowling, she said: “I never set out to upset anyone.
“However, I was not uncomfortable with getting off my pedestal.”
Among the tweets she had written in June 2020 was one saying: “I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.”
Rowling, who has always denied accusations of transphobia, told the podcast: “And what has interested me in the last 10 years and certainly in the last few years, particularly on social media: ‘You’ve ruined your legacy, oh you could have been beloved forever but you chose to say this’ and 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 – walking around thinking about what my legacy will be. Whatever. I’ll be dead. I care about now. I care about the living.”
The author also talked about how her first husband, Jorge Arantes, would hide her unpublished manuscript for the first Harry Potter book to prevent her from leaving him.
The two got married in October 1992 and she left him in November 1993, having already left twice but returned.
Rowling described her marriage to Arantes as “very violent, very controlling”, something that worsened when she became pregnant with their daughter Jessica.
“I’d continue to write. In fact, he knew what that manuscript meant to me because at one point he took the manuscript and hid it and that was his hostage.”
The PR attempt to separate JK Rowling from Harry Potter and why it’s important
Emma Watson ‘overwhelmed’ by reuniting with Harry Potter stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and others
When she decided to leave for the final time, she started to “take a few pages of the manuscript into work every day – just a few pages so that he wouldn’t realise anything was missing – and photocopy it”.
Rowling added: “And gradually in a cupboard in the staff room, bit by bit, a photocopied manuscript grew and grew and grew, because I suspected that if I wasn’t able to get out with everything he would burn it or take it or hold it hostage.
“That manuscript still meant so much to me. That was the thing that I actually prioritised for saving.
“The only thing I prioritised beyond that obviously was my daughter, but at that point she’s still inside me, so she’s as safe as can be in that situation.”
Click to subscribe to Backstage wherever you get your podcasts
In an interview in 2000, Arantes said that their relationship was “always either in heaven or in hell”.
And speaking to the Daily Mail in 2020, he denied that there was any domestic violence or sexual violence during their time together – but he did admit slapping her.