The Daily Telegraph

Potter a lockdown bestseller despite Rowling’s trans row

- By Phoebe Southworth

SALES of Harry Potter appeared to have been unaffected by the row over JK Rowling’s remarks on transgende­r people, as her publisher said the books remained a “bestseller”.

The author was criticised as “antitrans” over her defence of single-sex spaces and her comments about gender identity last month, which sparked a furious backlash that led to her being denounced by LGBT campaign groups and some of the stars of her films.

However, the popularity of her books has endured with Bloomsbury, her publisher, saying they had proved a lockdown hit – helping to push revenues at the group’s children’s division up more than a quarter.

The company, which publishes all the Harry Potter books, said its consumer publishing arm grew sales yearon-year by 28 per cent to £31.4million in the four months to June. Its children’s division grew by 27 per cent to £18.7 million, with Rowling’s titles highlighte­d as a “bestseller”.

Last month, Rowling took issue with an article that used the phrase “people who menstruate” as opposed to “women”. She became the subject of a social media storm, with people accusing her of denying the existence and rights of transgende­r people.

Her views were denounced by LGBT rights campaign groups and held at arm’s length by actors, including Daniel Radcliffe who played Harry Potter in the films, and Eddie Redmayne, the star of Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts films.

Following the outraged response, Rowling wrote a detailed blog post that expanded on her views. In it she said she was a domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor.

Nigel Newton, the Bloomsbury chief executive, said Rowling’s books had remained bestseller­s since she published her views on her website last month. “Harry Potter has been very popular with families at home, reading to each other, and has been marvellous throughout this period,” he said.

The UK publishing industry had its best year in 2019 thanks to a growth in print and digital sales, according to The Publishers Associatio­n.

Sales of books, journals, rights and co-editions were valued at £6.3 billion for the year – a 4 per cent rise on the 2018 figure and a 20 per cent increase since 2015, the associatio­n said.

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