JK Rowling shares tragic story behind this Harry Potter character’s creation

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Kayleigh Dray

JK Rowling’s own artwork – along with other memorabilia and artefacts which helped inspire the Harry Potter series – is currently on display at the British Library in Harry Potter: A History of Magic.

And, in an accompanying BBC2 documentary (which will air Saturday 28 October), Rowling has revealed the tragic true story behind the sketch she made of Professor Pomona Sprout.

“I drew this picture on 30 December 1990,” she says, according to The Mirror, “and I can be very precise.

“I was staying at a friend’s house and I had been writing Potter for six months and I stayed up when everyone else had gone to bed because I was watching the film, The Man Who Would Be King.”

Rowling continues: “The reason I can be incredibly precise about when I drew this was because at some point during watching that movie and drawing this picture, my mother died, 250 miles away, and I got the phone call the next day to say she had died.”

Above: Miriam Margolyes portrays Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter movies

Rowling has previously spoken about her mother’s death at the age of 45 from multiple sclerosis (MS), revealing that it came as an “enormous shock” to her.

The author – who set up the Anne Rowling Clinic to research neurological diseases in her memory – told The Telegraph: “[Mum] always seemed very young.

“She was very fit, she was a non-smoker, non-drinker, and I say all of this because of course then for her to be diagnosed at 35 with an illness that would kill her was just the most enormous shock to us and everyone who knew her.”

Rowling’s greatest sadness, though, is that her mother (a “passionate reader”) never knew that her daughter would be a successful author. She didn’t have the chance to read Harry Potter, as Rowling only started writing the first book six months before her death.

“Yes, she didn’t know, she never knew about Harry Potter – I started writing it six months before she died, so that is painful. I wish she’d known,” said Rowling.

The Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition is open at the British Library until 28 February 2018. Tickets – which cost £15 – are already sold out for several months, so do check the website quickly if you wish to attend.

Images: Rex Features


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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