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Mother's death inspired Harry Potter's orphanhood

The rampant theme of death in the Potter novels is because of fear of death, says Rowling.

books Updated: Jan 10, 2006 20:29 IST

Tearful British author J. K. Rowling revealed that her mother's death as she created her hugely successful Harry Potter character led her to make the boy wizard an orphan, in an interview published Tuesday.

Joanne Kathleen Rowling was 25 when her mother died aged 45 after a 10-year battle with multiple sclerosis - just as she was sketching out early versions of the Harry Potter novels which transformed her into one of Britain's richest women.

Part of the 40-year-old's agony is knowing that her mother never saw her meteoric rise to success. Rowling's literary agent said in October that the Potter series had sold more than 300 million copies worldwide.

"I know I was writing Harry Potter at the moment my mother died. I had never told her about Harry Potter," she told Tatler magazine, in an article printed in condensed form in The Daily Telegraph.

"I was alternately a wreck and then in total denial," she said, weeping.

"Barely a day goes by when I do not think of her. There would be so much to tell her, impossibly much."

Her mother's condition led her to make Potter suffer the death of his parents, said the article, adding that she was open about her greatest fear being of a loved one dying.

"My books are largely about death. They open with the death of Harry's parents. We're all frightened of it," she said.

Rowling has spent much of the past decade writing about the adventures of Potter and his friends at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Now she is penning the eagerly-anticipated seventh and final instalment, with its plot the subject of much speculation.

The final chapter is already written and is locked away in her safe, the article said.

Her anaesthetist husband Neil Murray may be the only one to have been told the plot for the final Potter novel- not that he's likely to tell anyone.

"Neil is the only one I can talk to about what happens because he instantly forgets," she said.

Rowling has also finished some short stories and a new children's book she describes as a political fairy tale, aimed at children younger than those addicted to Potter.

"I haven't even told my publisher about this," she said.

Rowling spoke of her struggle to cope with the "enormous pressure" of fame.

"I was petrified and didn't know how to handle it," she said, saying she felt isolated well before becoming famous.

Estimates of her wealth have topped£500 million (€730 million, $885 million).

The Potter novels have been translated into 63 languages. The first four have also been made into blockbuster films.