The charitable side of ... JK Rowling

Stephen Cook

Harry Potter's creator supports a variety of well- known charities, as well as the more mysterious Volant Trust.

On the Monday after the publication of the latest Harry Potter book, The Times stated that sales thus far had produced an income of £25m for JK Rowling in 24 hours. A wary tone enters the voice of the author's public relations person. "We don't comment on figures," she says. "They're never accurate." So we move on to her many charitable activities.

Her mother died of multiple sclerosis 15 years ago, and the charity she does most for is the MS Society Scotland - she's taken part in a lobby of the Scottish Parliament, a fundraising ball and a gala dinner. She's also a supporter of Maggie's cancer caring centres in Scotland and is president of One Parent Families, which says she's worked behind the the scenes on its behalf and made "very generous donations". No figures, though.

Then she's written two Hogwarts School text books to raise money for Comic Relief.

And finally, there's the Volant Trust, which makes grants but doesn't publicise itself or say what it gives to. The spokeswoman is very cagey, but it's just possible to deduce that the trust considers the various letters and appeals very rich people inevitably attract. So why don't the super-rich end the speculation they hate so much by saying what the figures are?

At least JK Rowling makes up for the lack of information with a witty compendium on her website of all the inaccuracies that have appeared about her in the media, under the headings 'starting to smell', 'excessive additives', 'recycled', 'pure garbage' and 'toxic'. The latter contains only one: the story that Gilderoy Lockhart - "the smarmiest bloke you've ever met", according to Ron Weasley - was inspired by her first husband.

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