Veteran writer takes swipe at Rowling

Last updated at 09:17 01 August 2005

Veteran fantasy writer Terry Pratchett today took a literary swipe at relative newcomer JK Rowling through the letters page of a national newspaper.

He poked fun at the Harry Potter author's assertion that she did not realise during the course of her first book that she was writing a fantasy.

Writing in to The Sunday Times, Pratchett, from Salisbury, Wiltshire, stated: "Rowling says that she didn't realise that the first Potter book was fantasy until after it was published.

"I'm not the world's greatest expert, but I would have thought that the wizards, witches, trolls, unicorns, hidden worlds, jumping chocolate frogs, owl mail, magic food, ghosts, broomsticks and spells would have given her a clue?"

Pratchett was referring to an interview with Time magazine in which Rowling also confessed she was "not a huge fan of fantasy" and had never finished JRR Tolkien's classic The Lord of the Rings.

She told the magazine: "I was trying to subvert the genre. Harry goes off into this magical world, and is it any better than the world he's left? Only because he meets nicer people. Magic does not make his world better significantly."

The magazine article credits Rowling with reinventing fantasy fiction which it claimed had tended to be stuck in "an idealised,

romanticised, pseudofeudal world, where knights and ladies morris-dance to Greensleeves."

Pratchett defended the genre, saying the best fantasy writing "has always been edgy and inventive".

He added: "Ever since The Lord of the Rings revitalised the genre, writers have played with it, reinvented it, subverted it and bent it to the times.

"It has also contained some of the very best, most accessible writing for children, by writers who seldom get the acknowledgement they deserve."

Pratchett is among the genre's most prolific and successful writers. He has sold around 40 million books having published his first fantasy novel 34 years ago.

His remarks come as Rowling celebrated her 40th birthday.

Her website features a birthday cake with seven candles and the message "Happy Birthday Harry Potter"

Her latest book Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was published earlier this month.

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