J K Rowling publishes fairy tale online for free so children can read

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Writer J K Rowling. Reuters file photo
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London: Writer J K Rowling published the first chapters of a fairy tale about a monster known as the Ickabog on Tuesday, an allegory about truth and abuse of power that is free online so that children can read it during coronavirus lockdown.

The story concerns rumours of a fierce child-eating monster with extraordinary powers which lives in the northern tip of an imaginary land known as Cornucopia.

Further chapters will be published every weekday until July 10, Rowling said on Twitter, adding in capitals: "THIS IS NOT A HARRY POTTER SPIN-OFF".

Rowling got the idea for The Ickabog when she was writing Harry Potter and she intended it to be published after "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows", the last of her seven-book Potter series.

But the mostly handwritten manuscript ended up in her attic and stayed there for a decade until a few weeks ago. She has rewritten parts of it in recent weeks.

"The Ickabog is a story about truth and the abuse of power," said Rowling, 54. "The themes are timeless and could apply to any era or any country."

"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," she said.

The first chapters of the fairy tale were published on The Ickabog website on Tuesday.

"I’ve decided to publish The Ickabog for free online, so children on lockdown, or even those back at school during these strange, unsettling times, can read it or have it read to them," Rowling said.

She will donate her royalties to projects and organisations helping the groups most impacted by COVID-19.

The Harry Potter books tell the saga of a young wizard's battle with evil in the form of Lord Voldemort. The series has been translated into over 80 languages and sold more than 500 million copies worldwide.

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