We all have come to know that J.K. Rowling considers herself bad at maths. She has even admitted it freely;

ES: How many wizards are there?

JKR: In the world? Oh, Emerson, my maths is so bad.

Has Jo ever confessed to be being "bad" at anything else? If so, is there any evidence that this has lead to inconsistencies in her works, much like her "being bad at maths" has lead to debate on class sizes and population.

To possibly limit the "broadness"; answers would have to come as quotes directly from JKR herself.

  • 12
    its an open-ended list question, at least until JKR stops tweeting. we close these all the time.
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 16:48
  • 8
    Questions about a scifi author's personal life, especially unrestricted to her works, are definitely OFF-TOPIC here! It has correctly gathered a ton of downvotes, but with an open bounty it seems impossible to close at the moment.
    – Andres F.
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 20:29
  • 2
    @AndresF. I would also say this is related to her works, as the original quote I based the question on was asked about the class sizes and the population of the wizarding community. In addition, many of the quotes below are from HP related interviews.
    – Skooba
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 20:47
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    @Skooba Tremendously far fewer votes in the accepted answer from meta than the sum of votes in this question; I wouldn't rely in that meta answer to represent the consensus. Furthermore, that question is about "non-SF/F elements in a SF/F work"... pray tell, which is the SF/F work in question here?
    – Andres F.
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 20:48
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    @Skooba Oh, come on! That line of reasoning wouldn't be accepted anywhere. So if Rowling had sneezed in an interview, we could discuss which brand of tissue paper she prefers here? Nah. Besides, she mentioned maths in her interview; even admitting this makes math on-topic (I don't) it still makes "things she's bad at" as a person definitely off-topic.
    – Andres F.
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 20:50

1 Answer 1


She is bad at returning library books

Question: Did you use the library a lot as a child?

J.K. Rowling responds: Yes, I loved the library, though I was very bad at returning books on time. I once ran up a bill at university of over fifty pounds in overdue fines, which was a lot of money to a struggling student. (It didn't stop me doing it again though!)

"About the Books: transcript of J.K. Rowling's live interview on Scholastic.com," Scholastic.com, 16 October 2000

She struggles with public speaking

JKR: I've never been good at speaking in public. In fact it's a borderline phobic.

"Harry Potter and Me" (BBC Christmas Special, British version), BBC, 28 December 2001

She can't act or take direction with a straight face

a) I can't act b) I'd just keep corpsing

via twitter

She's bad at geography (and maths)

Maths is not my strong suit (though it's better than my geography, as those who have found the most recent Easter Eggs might already know).

J.K.Rowling Official Site - FAQ

She's not good at reading in public

I do think that the people that have come tonight would rather ask questions than hear me doing a long reading. I would like to think so anyway because I’m not very comfortable doing it and I don’t think I’m particularly good at reading.

An Evening with Harry, Carrie and Garp: Press Conference

She considers herself to be highly disorganised

JKR: No. No, I'm embarrassingly bad at most other things, I think. Very disorganized person. I was hell in offices. I was good at teaching English as a foreign language. I loved doing that. I think I was ok at that. I'm good at keeping tropical fish. Can't think of much else, actually, I really can't.

"J.K. Rowling Interview," CBCNewsWorld: Hot Type, July 13, 2000

She struggles to critique her own work

Rowling: I can only speculate about this really, I'm very bad at being a critic of my own work. I'm far too close to it, I find it very difficult to say why I think things are so popular, and so on. I'm guessing it's because I write about things I find funny, as opposed to what I think eight year olds find funny. And I suppose other adults find it funny too, I'm clearly an adult.

"Rogers, Shelagh. "INTERVIEW: J.K. Rowling," Canadian Broadcasting Co., October 23, 2000


JKR: I think (but I don't really know, because I'm not good at being objective about my own work) that as I wrote primarily for myself, that probably shows in the books. The sense of humour is mine, not what I think children find funny, for instance.

"Comic Relief live chat transcript, March 2001

She was bad at being a secretary

After school, Jo attended the University of Exeter in Devon where she studied French. Her parents hoped that by studying languages, she would enjoy a great career as a bilingual secretary. But as Jo recalls, 'I am one of the most disorganised people in the world and, as I later proved, the worst secretary ever.' She claims that she never paid much attention in meetings because she was too busy scribbling down ideas. 'This is a problem when you are supposed to be taking the minutes of the meeting,' she says.

"21 authors: J.K. Rowling," Bloomsbury Publishing,

Bad at sports, clumsy and scared of heights

Kings Park Primary School: Which position would you like to play if you played quidditch?

JK Rowling: Who wouldn't want to be Seeker? But I think I'd be dreadful at Quidditch, I'm not sporty, I'm not great with heights and I'm clumsy as well. Neville would be about my standard.

JK Rowling's World Book Day Chat, March 4, 2004

She's bad at metalwork, woodwork (and sports again).

My least favorite subject was metalwork. I was the worst in my class-just terrible. I am not a practical person .... It seemed to me to be all about hammering stuff until I broke it. I did try, but I just could not do it. Mum always kept a ridiculous flat teaspoon I made which was useless, completely hopeless. I was terrible at woodwork too — I remember arriving home with a photograph frame composed mainly of glue. I was also dreadful at sport, although I vaguely liked gym. I especially hated hockey. But I did like swimming and dancing.

Conversations with J.K. Rowling

Inadequate tennis skills

My tennis game is non-existent. Feeble little arms like a T-Rex due to years of typing, typing, typing. Strong fingers though.

Via Twitter

Struggles with pet management

I can't say I consider myself a 'world leader' though. Maybe of worlds inside my head? In the real world I can barely lead my dog.

Via Twitter

She struggled to juggle being a mum and a full-time writer

How did you raise a baby and write a book?" and the answer is, I didn't do housework for four years! I'm not Superwoman, and living in squalor that was the answer.

"Harry Potter and Me" (BBC Christmas Special, British version), BBC, 28 December 2001

She claims to be bad at computer games

Stephen Fry: Do you ever play the computer games?

JK Rowling: I don’t but my daughter plays it - she’s very good. I can’t work Playstations. I’m no good at these things.

Fry, Stephen, interviewer: J.K. Rowling at the Royal Albert Hall, 26 June 2003.

However subsequent investigation reveals that she's actually quite good at Minesweeper

She struggles to operate her television

"I don’t want to programme money. I can barely work my TV."

Via Twitter

Cannot understand bitcoin (despite having had it explained to her, repeatedly)

God bless every single one of you now earnestly explaining bitcoin to me as though I’ll grasp it if you break it down properly. Things like this are white noise to me. I cannot and will not ever understand Bitcoin, but I love you for thinking that I can or will.

Via Twitter

She can't write short stories

But I didn't really need much persuasion as I have always supported Comic Relief, and I think they do fantastic work, so I wrote back and said yes but I'm not good at short stories particularly not short Harry stories I tend to ramble on, so how would it be if I wrote a couple of the titles that appear by title in the novels so that's how it all started.

Raincoast Books interview transcript, Raincoast Books (Canada), March 2001.

  • 14
    Has she mentioned Economics yet? Keeping track of calendars so students don't start school on a weekend?
    – user40790
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 18:51
  • 4
    @ibid - She didn't say whether she was any good at it.
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 21:05
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    You're missing bad at driving: That is why I don’t drive, I swear to God. I cannot drive. People look at me and think, ‘how can you be a woman of forty-eight and not drive a car?’ But I know myself and I know how detached I am from my physical surroundings.
    – ibid
    Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 3:43
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    @ibid Minesweeper was not a video game, but a trick to teach people how to right click in Windows. Just Like Solitaire was added to teach people about clicking and dragging.... tutorials disguised as games!!
    – Skooba
    Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 17:00
  • 6
    You can add biology! she gave a boa constrictor eyelids...
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 9:51

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