Reaction as JK Rowling missed from Queen’s Platinum Jubilee author list

North Somerset MP Dr Liam Fox has hit out at JK Rowling being omitted from a list of writers to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

The BBC Arts and The Reading Agency has selected works from Bernardine Evaristo, Margaret Atwood, John le Carré, Marlon James, Seamus Heaney, Hilary Mantel and Andrea Levy for The Big Jubilee Read. But JK Rowling, author of the hugely popular Harry Potter book series, hasn’t made the cut.

Suzy Klein, Head of Arts and Classical Music TV at the BBC, said: “Nineteen years on from the Big Read, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee feels like the perfect opportunity to foreground some of the greatest writing from across the Commonwealth in our Big Jubilee Read.” Dr Fox MP was quick to show his disapproval about no mention of the Harry Potter creator.

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He tweeted: “Disgraceful and cowardly behaviour by @BBCArts. Full credit to @jk_rowling for her integrity, courage and composure. What a contrast.”

He was joined in his criticism by Bella Wallersteiner, who posted: “JK Rowling, greatest writer of her generation, has been excluded from the Platinum Jubilee list of great reads. BBC Arts says decision has nothing to do with transgender row.”

On June 6, 2020, JK Rowling sparked controversy when she retweeted an op-ed piece that discussed “people who menstruate,” apparently taking issue with the fact that the story did not use the word women. She wrote: “‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”

She went on to explain: “If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth,”

The Big Jubilee’s 70 titles consist of 10 books from each decade of the Queen’s reign, offering a selection of beautiful and thrilling writing produced by authors from a wide range of Commonwealth countries such as Australia, Canada, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago and the United Kingdom.

North Somerset MP Dr Liam Fox

Renowned authors Margaret Atwood, E. R. Braithwaite, Anthony Burgess, John le Carré, Bernardine Evaristo, Seamus Heaney, Kazuo Ishiguro, Marlon James, Hilary Mantel, Andrea Levy, Arundhati Roy, Salman Rushdie, Zadie Smith, Douglas Stuart, Derek Walcott and Markus Zusak are included.

‘Fantastic book list’

The campaign enables readers to engage in the discovery and celebration of great books and shines a spotlight on lesser known books and authors who deserve recognition.

Karen Napier, CEO, The Reading Agency: “We’re thrilled to be partnering with BBC to celebrate the proven power of reading at this historic moment of national celebration. The Reading Agency hugely values the support of our library partners bringing this fantastic book list to life in the heart of communities across the country this summer.”

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