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Wednesday, October 13, 1999 Published at 10:41 GMT 11:41 UK


'Evil' Harry Potter attacked by parents

Harry Potter stories have sold millions of copies in the United States

Parents have accused the Harry Potter children's books of depicting "sheer evil", in a local campaign in the United States to keep the stories off the shelves of school libraries.

While the three books featuring the young wizard have stormed the best-seller lists in the United Kingdom and United States, Harry Potter has now met with opposition from parents in South Carolina.

"The books have a serious tone of death, hate, lack of respect and sheer evil," Elizabeth Mounce from Columbia warned school authorities.

[ image: Author JK Rowling has topped best-seller lists on both sides of the Atlantic]
Author JK Rowling has topped best-seller lists on both sides of the Atlantic
In response the school board will carry out a review of the book's suitability for children, with board member Clarence Dickert commenting "censorship is an ugly word, but it is not as ugly as what I've heard this morning".

Parents are concerned by the book's unsentimental references to death - Harry Potter is an orphan - the descriptions of violence and its wizardry and magic.

But a local bookshop, The Happy Bookseller, which is selling a hundred Harry Potter books a week, defended the stories. "If you fear Harry Potter, you should fear 50% of children's classics," said the bookshop's manager.

There have also been concerns elsewhere in the United States. A teacher at a primary school in Marietta, Georgia was asked to stop reading the stories to pupils after disquiet about its references to the supernatural.

But the books, written by British author JK Rowling, are still a runaway success with children and adults, with the first story in the series spending 42 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list for adult fiction.

While some parents are worried by the adult content of the book, others are fighting to get hold of copies, as bookshops continue to sell out.

The stories, which record the adventures of a young boy at a school for wizards, have been described as being part of a tradition of English children's writers such as CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien and Lewis Carroll.

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