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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 June, 2003, 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK
Potter author's reading treat
JK Rowling signing autographs
Rowling took time to sign autographs for fans outside
Thousands of school children gathered at the Royal Albert Hall, London on Thursday, to hear Harry Potter author JK Rowling give a one-off reading of her latest book.

She read an extract from the fifth Potter adventure, The Order of the Phoenix, in front of 4,000 children, five days after the book launched around the world and became the fastest-selling book in UK history.

Rowling was joined on stage by comedian Stephen Fry, who put questions to the writer from children around the world. The whole event was broadcast on the internet.

Rowling shocked her young fans when she hinted that Harry Potter could face mortal peril and be killed off.

One young fan asked her whether she planned to write books about an adult Harry.

She said: "You have to wait and see whether he survives to be a grown-up.

"I'm not saying he won't but I don't want to give anything away."

To set the scene, the hall was decorated to resemble Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from the adventures.


She said her favourite place to write had been in cafes, but that she could no longer write in public because of her fame.

JK Rowling
Rowling told host Stephen Fry to call her Jo

"Too many people come up to say 'are you that woman who writes Harry Potter?'."

She also said that being published now was "scary".

"The first reading I did was to two people who had wandered into the basement of Waterstone's by mistake, and were too polite to walk out because somebody was doing a reading," she said.

Beatles fan

She said if she could have one magic power for a day, she would choose invisibility - so she could return to writing in cafes.

Rowling said she was a Beatles fan and joked to the crowd: "It's the closest I'll ever get to being a Beatle, hearing you all shout."

She said the latest book - which weighs in at 736 pages - had been so long because she had wanted to leave clues for developments in the sixth and seventh books.

Rowling admitted that her teenage hero had "a hard time" in the latest book.

Potter fan reading book
The fifth Harry Potter book is the fastest-selling in history

She said she had invented the now-famous game of Quidditch after having an argument with her then-boyfriend and going to the pub.

She said the argument may have had something to do with the fact the game was so violent.

The writer then read from page 583 of The Order of the Phoenix, a scene where Harry Potter has a career interview with Professor McGonagall.


The tickets were made available to schoolchildren in the UK and Ireland though a ballot.

The 37-year-old writer has become the wealthiest woman in showbusiness in the past two years and a recent rich list estimated her to be Britain's 122nd richest person, though Rowling herself disputes the figure.

She admitted in a recent interview with the BBC's Jeremy Paxman that she was guilty that she had earned so much money.

"I met my accountant recently and I said 'They say in the rich list that I am richer than the Queen, so that means you've embezzled quite a lot of money'.

"I do know what ball park I've got. I'm not that clueless. And I certainly have not got 280m," she said.

Did you watch the webcast or did you go to the event in London? What did you think?

Did JK Rowling answer all your burning Potter questions? BBC News Online users had their say.

I went to the event in Royal Albert Hall with my school, it was FANTASTIC! The interview was amazing and all the special FX where too. The car was a great suprise, and I really enjoyed walking around London for the first time too.
Aneurin Evans, South Wales

I watched the interview over the internet and thought it was amazing. Apart from one thing. That man at the beginning who treated everyone like they were at pre-school and asked JK what underpants Harry wore was really stupid. He ruined it!
Kenichi Udagawa, UK

JK Rowling gave me a brilliant insight into how she thinks up characters etc. I was in the hall and thought she did brilliantly. She even managed to talk over the screaming crowd. Brilliant!
Kieren Williams, Great Britain

It was fun to see everyone celebrating. She answered a few questions that I had interest in but in the whole part I thought that most of the questions were below my expectations.
Jennifer, Canada

I watched the webcast. It was my first webcast. It went a great deal better than I'd expected. Rowling and Fry do well together as interviewer and subject. I felt the children were really on their game with the questions they asked. I certainly don't think I would have been as creative. Rowling expertly navigated through the tricky questions by carefully sprinkling only the tiniest hints of what's to come. Her candid response about baddies and the invention of Quidditch were very amusing. In all I very much enjoyed the webcast.
Denise Albiza, USA

I watched it live yesterday in work and it was excellent, I'm sure the kids must have loved it. Bit of a shame Stephen Fry inadvertantly blubbed out the name of the character that dies in the new book, though I'm sure JK will forgive him after his sensational readings of the first four books.
Squiz, Llanmaes

Did JK Rowling answer all your burning Potter questions? Actually, no she didn't, I expected there to be more questions being anwsered about the book: such as the Ron and Hermione romance and what to expect in future books. I was very disappointed.
Raj, Canada

It was wonderful to watch the webcast. I wish I could have been there. Not all, but a very important one...

She did put clues to next book(s) for us to try to figure out what will happen.
Anita Wilson, USA

I was there at the Albert Hall in the middle of Pottermania with 40 of our school's kids yesterday thinking how this one woman on stage had achieved (and exceeded) - little short of miraculously - just about every literacy target politicians talk and dream (and take Umbridge!) about. She has made books the new Beatles, which is good for everyone, authors and teachers alike and kids most of all. She's worth every penny.
Gareth Calway, Head of English, Smithdon High School, Hunstanton., Great Britain

I set my alarm to make sure that I would wake up at 11 AM the time that the webcast started here in Ohio. And am I glad I did, Jo is such a pleasant person to hear speak, I enjoy the questions, but I was disappointed to hear that she can no longer write in cafes, I think that is a terrible shame. Oh well, she whetted my appetite for book 6, oh dear I do hope that it won't be another three year wait. Guess I better start preparing myself for the worse, eh?
Jeff Grubb, USA

I went to the Royal Albert Hall and the best bit was the pre show entertainment and JK Rowling reading from the book. It was worth the 4 hour journey from Lincolnshire.I thought the experience was unforgettable and look forward to finishing the book.I definitely want to read the next book and hope it comes out soon.
Andrew Nisbet, England.

I'm a mom, 37 years old, and I read the Harry Potter's books with a different prospective than the children. I love them, very much. I'm crazy about the way Jo writes, the way she describes everything; the way she managed to become what she's now. I watched the web cast yesterday live with tears in my eyes. She moved me a lot. I wish yes I wish I can meet her and talk with her about my questions, her ideas about the wizard world. Great job Jo, you saved me from depression, thanks.
Marta, Canada

It is stupid to say that JK Rowling did not answer all of your questions ... she does not want to give the game away so of course she is not going to say what happens in the next two books!
Holly Duvall, England

It was an amazing experience, I wish it had been longer but I understand the need to keep things shorter to hold the kids' attentions. And to hear her read from the book in person, that was amazing - even better than on TV or the radio as it how it's 'supposed' to sound. Overall a fantastic experience and I wouldn't have traded it for anything in the world.
Skid, London, Uk

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