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J K Rowling owes me big time

“Jewish author’s estate accuses Rowling of plagiarism” was one of the featured stories in today’s Jewish Telegraph Agency bulletin. According to this, Rowling got her ideas from a 1987 book by Adrian Jacobs (since deceased) entitled The Adventures of Willy the Wizard: No. 1 Livid Land.

This is not the first time certain people have sought to get their hands on J K Rowling’s Harry Potter-generated millions by claiming that they had gotten there first. It’s quite pathetic, really. I mean, the depths to which some people will stoop to feed off the achievements of others. But you want to know what really gets to me? It’s the fact that actually I am really the one to whom Ms Rowling is indebted, and she bloody well knows it.

During my years as editor of the Rhodes University Jewish students’ society magazine, I published a series of fictional pieces based on an imaginary Jewish theological seminary located somewhere in the Karoo. The main character in this series was called — wait for it — Hirshy Porter, a young student with extraordinary Kabbalistic powers.

Rowling didn’t even have the decency to disguise the name. Nor did she make more than a token attempt to do so regarding another important character, seminary principle Rabbi Schmelke Trumpeldore (“Albus Dumbledore” in Rowling’s impudent rendition).

It gets worse. You can imagine my outrage on learning of the Rowling travesty Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, given the prior appearance of my Hirshy Porter and the Half-Baked Blince.

It’s all too reminiscent of another little-known literary scandal, how Mark Twain pinched his Huckleberry Finn from Berel Blumberg’s 1863 masterpiece Chaikel Ari Fine. And got away with it, too.

Enough is enough. I’m just about ready to go public with my grievances, and when I do, Ms Joanne K Rowling had better watch out.


  • David Saks has worked for the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) since April 1997, and is currently its associate director. Over the years, he has written extensively on aspects of South African history, Judaism and the Middle East for local and international newspapers and journals. David has an MA in history from Rhodes University. Prior to joining the SAJBD, he was curator -- history at MuseumAfrica in Johannesburg. He is editor of the journal Jewish Affairs, appears regularly on local radio discussing Jewish and Middle East subjects and is a contributor to various Jewish publications.