J.K. Rowling is releasing an unpublished fairy tale she wrote more than a decade ago online for free.
The Harry Potter author revealed her plans to publish the story, titled The Ickabog, for kids stuck at home during the Covid-19 lockdown on Tuesday.
She will be serialising the book online in chapters from Tuesday until 10 July, before publishing a print edition in November to raise funds for those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Explaining the story behind the fairy tale on her website, Rowling wrote: “The idea for The Ickabog came to me while I was still writing Harry Potter. I wrote most of a first draft in fits and starts between Potter books, intending to publish it after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
“However, after the last Potter book I wanted to take a break from publishing, which ended up lasting five years. In that time I wrote The Casual Vacancy and (her alter ego) Robert Galbraith wrote The Cuckoo’s Calling.”
The writer then went on to explain that she wanted to move away from children’s publishing, but after a recent chat with her own kids, she decided to release the book for free.
Revealing its themes to fans, Rowling added: “The Ickabog is a story about truth and the abuse of power. To forestall one obvious question: the idea came to me well over a decade ago, so it isn’t intended to be read as a response to anything that’s happening in the world right now. The themes are timeless and could apply to any era or any country.”
She is also holding a competition where kids can send in illustrations, with the best featuring in the print edition. The Ickabog will be published on a new website, where young readers will also be able to enter their drawings into the competition.