From this article (about the recent protest from SFF authors against BBC's discriminatory behaviour).

JK Rowling sadly felt she had to deny she was writing fantasy with her Harry Potter series – although as Terry Pratchett responded: “I would have thought that the wizards, witches, trolls, unicorns, hidden worlds, jumping chocolate frogs, owl mail, magic food, ghosts, broomsticks and spells would have given her a clue?”

Can anybody supply references to this? Was this because she did not want to label her works as fantasy?

  • After Pratchett said that, there was a long, winding, digressing, and heated discussion across alt.fan.pratchett and alt.fan.harry-potter, in which Pratchett himself (under "pterry" which is his handle in Usenet) dropped a few comments. I'm too lazy to search that for you, but if you're interested you should easily find it, and it should contain references to what you're looking for.
    – sbi
    Commented Apr 26, 2011 at 11:27
  • Perhaps the point here is that literary genres like fantasy or sci-fi are not that well-defined.
    – Dima
    Commented Jul 22, 2011 at 16:16

3 Answers 3


J. K. Rowling has stated that she doesn't like fantasy, and it didn't occur to her that Harry Potter was fantasy until after she had written it, according to a 2005 interview with Time Magazine.

The most popular living fantasy writer in the world doesn't even especially like fantasy novels. It wasn't until after Sorcerer's Stone was published that it even occurred to her that she had written one. "That's the honest truth," she says. "You know, the unicorns were in there. There was the castle, God knows. But I really had not thought that that's what I was doing. And I think maybe the reason that it didn't occur to me is that I'm not a huge fan of fantasy." Rowling has never finished The Lord of the Rings. She hasn't even read all of C.S. Lewis' Narnia novels, which her books get compared to a lot.


Hang on--other things? It's disconcerting to think of Rowling stepping out on Harry and the gang with another set of characters. But at least we can say Harry is Rowling's last wizard. From here on out, it's Muggles only. "I think I can say categorically that I will not write another fantasy after Harry," she says, making herself and her publicists, who hover nearby, visibly nervous. "Wait, now I'm panicking. Oh, my God! Yes, I'm sure I can say that. I think I will have exhausted the possibilities of that. For me." Beyond that, she isn't giving away many clues, but she's approaching the project with her usual ruthless skepticism. "We'll have to see if it's good enough to be published. I mean, that is a real concern, obviously, because the first thing I write post Harry could be absolutely dreadful, and, you know, people will buy it. So, you know, you're left with this real insecurity."

  • 4
    Fantasy is often equated with the "high fantasy" and "sword-and-sorcery" subgenres. When Ms. Rowling says she doesn't like fantasy, she's probably thinking of that style of fantasy rather than, say, The Phantom Tollbooth.
    – Pixel
    Commented Mar 15, 2012 at 0:40

From the Electronic Telegraph, 1997:

Yet she [JK Rowling] says that fantasy doesn't greatly appeal to her.

"I don't read it; and it feels odd to speak of what I've written as fantasy. It's all set obviously in a very fantastical context, but some of the characters I think we've all met. Harry has no parents to love; his affections and loyalties are to his friends, but there are adults around who he feels might be his parents. I'm far more interested in those ideas."

From the Australian, 1998:

These days well-meaning people give Rowling fantasy books to read. But she prefers Jane Austen and Roddy Doyle. "Fantasy is not my favourite genre. Although I love C. S. Lewis, I have a problem with his imitators."

From the Newsweek, 2000:

"In fact, I don't really like fantasy. It's not so much that I don't like it, I really haven't read a lot of it. <...> It didn't occur to me for quite a while that I was writing fantasy when I'd started "Harry Potter," because I'm a bit slow on the uptake about those things. I was so caught up in it. And I was about two thirds of the way through, and I suddenly thought, This has got unicorns in it. I'm writing fantasy!"

From AOL Live Chat, 2001:

Q: Why did you focus on magic?

JKR: It chose me. I never really sat down & thought 'what shall I focus on' and in fact, I don't really read fantasy; it's not my favourite genre.

Interview with Steven Kloves, who wrote Harry Potter film scripts, Written By, 2001:

"I confessed to Jo right away that I wasn't a fan of fantasy," he says. "She said, 'Relax, neither am I.'"

For 2005, apart from The Times article mentioned above, there is a transcript of ITV press conference where she says:

JK Rowling: That is one thing I can definitely rule out I don't think I will write any more fantasy books. The reason for that, obviously I have now written a huge long fantasy which will be longer when it is finished and I think I have really put my best fantasy ideas into Harry Potter and if I try to write another fantasy I would feel it was second best. And I love the characters I have written in Harry Potter so much, maybe it will feel like a slight betrayal if I did a second fantasy. I would like to just, that to be my one and only brave stab at that genre, I think.

  • 5
    It sounds like she's less disdainful of fantasy, and more distrusting of books that focus more on the fantasy of the situation, and less on the humans surrounding it.
    – Zibbobz
    Commented Jun 4, 2014 at 18:50

It is actually a well known fact that many authors who are working in the genre of fantasy or science fiction do not necessarily view themselves as science fiction/fantasy authors; and instead write about humans, ideas, history and philosophy etc...; with sci-fi / fantasy being merely plot devices they employ.

Among the most well-known of these are:

  • Stanislaw Lem

  • Brothers Strugatsky (whose importance to Soviet sci-fi can be thought of Heinlein+Asimov put together)

  • Going further back, Bulgakov and even further Gogol.

  • And, going even further, heck, why not Homer?

  • 11
    This doesn't answer the question.
    – user366
    Commented Apr 24, 2011 at 0:09
  • 2
    "It is actually a well known fact" -- perhaps rephrase this, and make this answer more relevant to the specific question at hand? Commented Jun 5, 2011 at 23:56
  • This answer has a beginning of a point, but could use clarifications (do these authors sincerely consider themselves non-genre writers? do they just present themselves as non-genre? do they hold that genre-or-not-genre is irrelevant?). It could also use citations to back it up.
    – user56
    Commented Jun 7, 2011 at 21:26
  • 1
    @Gilles - are citations in Russian OK? (because if you want English translation, my answer is as good as you can get for #2/3) Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 1:08

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