JK Rowling says her mother’s death ‘took a wrecking ball to my life’

JK Rowling has opened up about losing her mother in her mid-twenties in a new podcast, The Witch Trials of JK Rowling.

The author of the famous Harry Potter books said the “early Nineties” were a bad period of time for her and “infused with loss” due to her mother dying of illness and a miscarriage over a year later.

Rowling, 57, told podcast host Megan Phelps-Roper: “I was in a real period of flux at the time, my mother was very ill, I had moved from London to Manchester. And then my mother died, actually on the night of 30 December 1990. But I didn’t realise she died until the early hours of New Year’s Eve.

“She was 45. She’d been ill for a very long time, but none of us realised that death was imminent. That kind of took a wrecking ball to my life, really. To me, this decade now is infused with loss.”

Rowling was 24 when her mother, Anne Volant Rowling, died of complications linked to multiple sclerosis. Speaking previously about the loss, Rowling said it came as an “enormous shock”.

In 2014, she told BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour: “She was very fit, she was a non-smoker, non-drinker, and I say all of this because of course then for her to be diagnosed at 35 with an illness that would kill her was just the most enormous shock to us and everyone who knew her.”

“My mother, by the time she was diagnosed, she was quite ill. She had been showing symptoms for a few years and didn’t know what they were, so by the time she was diagnosed, her health was deteriorating, so it wasn’t just the spectre of the unknown, it was dealing with the daily reality of somebody who’s starting not to be able to walk as well as they had, and for such an active person that was a real privation,” she added.

Megan Phelps-Roper and JK Rowling (Getty)
Megan Phelps-Roper and JK Rowling (Getty)

On the new seven-part podcast, which has released its first two episodes today (Tuesday 21 February), Rowling said she thought her mother’s death “perhaps... would have made me want to put [the story I was writing] away forever”.

She added: “But in fact, that sense of loss and this real despair that I felt started to go into the story.”

Rowling also opened up about how “hugely traumatic” her miscarriage was, as it took place just over a year after her mother died.

She later gave birth to her daughter Jessica, whose arrival she said was a “joyful thing” amid all the “bad” situations.