JK Rowling says ex-husband held her first Harry Potter book ‘hostage’

The first Harry Potter manuscript was hidden by JK Rowling’s abusive ex-husband in a bid to stop her from leaving him, the best-
selling author has revealed. Jorge Arantes stole the pages of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to hold like a “hostage”, she says – leading her to fear her jealous husband would burn them.

Jorge Arantes stole the pages of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to hold like a “hostage”, she says – leading her to fear her jealous husband would burn them.

When the writer learnt where the pages were, she snuck a few out of their house each day to secretly photocopy them at work and store them in a cupboard.

The author and Portuguese TV reporter Arantes wed in 1992 and had a daughter, Jessica, but JK left in 1993 as the marriage was “very violent and very controlling”.

The 57-year-old recalled: “He was searching my handbag every time I came home and I didn’t have a key to my own front door.

“I had to act as though I wasn’t leaving him and I don’t think I’m a very good actor…That’s a terrible way to live.

“He knew what that manuscript meant to me because at a point he took the manuscript and hid it.

“That was his hostage.

“When I realised I was definitely going to go, I would take a few pages of the manuscript into work each day… just a few pages so he wouldn’t realise.

“Gradually, in a cupboard in the staff room, bit by bit, a photocopied manuscript grew and grew because I suspected…he would burn it. The only thing I prioritised beyond that was my daughter but at that point, she was still inside me as safe as she could be.”

On the night when she left, after Jessica, now 29, was born, she said: “He became very violent and said ‘You can leave but you’re not getting Jessica, I’m keeping her, I’ll hide her.’

“There was a violent scene which terminated with me lying in the street.

“The next day I went back to the house with the police and got Jessica.”

She claims Arantes, who has previously admitted he “slapped her very hard”, broke into her house in Edinburgh many years later.

JK, who has been married to Dr Neil Murray since 2001, also talked on episodes of The Witch Trials of JK Rowling podcast this week about why she is critical of new approaches to gender identity.

Urging people to abandon “black and white thinking”, she said: “What I’ve tried to show in the Potter books, and what I feel strongly myself, is that we should mistrust ourselves most when we are certain.”

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