Symbolic Forest

A homage to loading screens.



In which we muse on J K Rowling’s favourite books

The Mother, for Christmas, received the final Harry Potter book. Being a sensible, serious grown-up person, she received the sensible, serious grown-up edition of the book. Its back cover consists entirely of the author’s portrait, standing in front of her bookshelves.

What intrigued me, though, was J K Rowling’s choice of books. Particularly, the choice of books she was photographed in front of. I’ve been poring over the portrait. So far, I’ve managed to identify:

  • Adrian Mole: The Cappucino Years
  • Several Agatha Christie novels
  • Nabokov’s Pale Fire
  • The Way We Live Now by Trollope
  • Something called The Ladies Of Llangollen – I’ve not heard of it and I can’t make out the author.
  • Joyce’s Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man
  • The Well Of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall

And lots of other things whose spines I can’t read, whose spines are very worn, or aren’t quite in focus in the picture. It’s a mysterious selection. Presumably, it’s a collection of books she’s built up over years; some of them look very well-read. I’m a bit puzzled by her filing system, though. Is there a reason why Agatha Christie is next to Freud, or why Nabokov is next-door-but-one to Radclyffe Hall? I’m sure each book must mean something to her; what are the connections between them?

Update, August 30th 2020: The Ladies of Llangollen were Eleanor Butler (d. 1829) and Sarah Ponsonby (d. 1831), two Irish women who lived together at Plas Newydd, Llangollen. The book in question is potentially by Elizabeth Mavor.