J.K. Rowling Announces New Children’s Fairytale, “The Ickabog”

May 26, 2020

Posted by: Emma Pocock

J.K. Rowling, JKRowling.com, News

Over the past few days J.K. Rowling changed her header on Twitter multiple times, which we know to mean only one thing: new writing by Rowling:

Today, Rowling took to Twitter to share her news, which – to be very clear – has nothing to do with Harry Potter, but is instead a stand-alone fairytale Rowling wrote over 10 years ago, called The Ickabog. 

On JKRowling.com, Jo shares the reasons behind the publication of the book, saying she drafted the book between writing Harry Potter, and intended to publish the fairytale after Deathly Hallows. However, finding she wanted a break from publishing, she instead wrote The Causal Vacancy and The Cuckoo’s Calling, and the story lie dormant in her attic, belonging only to Rowling’s two younger children, who were – until recently – the only people to have heard the story of The Ickabog.

“A few weeks ago at dinner, I tentatively mooted the idea of getting The Ickabog down from the attic and publishing it for free, for children in lockdown. My now teenagers were touchingly enthusiastic, so downstairs came the very dusty box, and for the last few weeks I’ve been immersed in a fictional world I thought I’d never enter again. As I worked to finish the book, I started reading chapters nightly to the family again. This was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my writing life, as The Ickabog’s first two readers told me what they remember from when they were tiny, and demanded the reinstatement of bits they’d particularly liked (I obeyed).”

The story will be published for free online via TheIckabog.com, chapter by chapter (or 2 or 3, Rowling clarified on Twitter), every weekday between May 26 – July 10 on The Ickabog website, with translations still to come. The first chapter will launch at 3pm today, May 26.

Rowling says on the story:

The Ickabog is a story about truth and the abuse of power.  To forestall one obvious question: 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 themes are timeless and could apply to any era or any country.”

The publication will also be accompanied by a competition for children in lockdown to illustrate the story. Suggestions for illustrations to submit will be available via The Ickabog website.

The Ickabog will publish  November 2020 in print, eBook and audiobook formats, and will include the best drawings in each territory, judged by publishers in each territory (rather than Rowling herself). However, if parents or guardians wish for Rowling to see their child’s drawings, she suggests posting the drawing to Twitter using the hashtag #TheIckabog!

All author royalties from the publication of The Ickabog will be donated to help groups who have been particularly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, with further details on this to come.

Lastly, Rowling thanks a few people for bringing this project to light:

Huge thanks are due…

… to my dear friend and editor Arthur Levine; to the phenomenal James McKnight of the Blair Partnership, who’s worked tirelessly to make this project a reality in a very short space of time; to Ruth Alltimes at Little, Brown, whose help has been invaluable; to my peerless management team, Rebecca Salt, Nicky Stonehill and Mark Hutchinson and to my wonderful agent Neil Blair. I promise all of you not to have any more bright ideas for a few months at least.

Read more in Rowling’s thread below, and visit JKRowling.com for more info here.

UPDATE: The book will contain 34 chapters, announced in press release, and Chapter 1: King Fred the Fearless, and Chapter 2: The Ickabog, are available now via TheIckabog.com:

“The Ickabog, they said, had extraordinary powers. It could imitate the human voice to lure travellers into its clutches. If you tried to kill it, it would mend magically, or else split into two Ickabogs; it could fly, spurt fire, shoot poison – the Ickabog’s powers were as great as the imagination of the teller.”

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.