JK Rowling has been excluded from a Platinum Jubilee reading list in the wake of a transgender row.
The Big Jubilee Read was compiled with the aim of celebrating 70 great reads from across the Commonwealth, one for every year of the Queen’s reign, as well as generating debate.
A long list of 153 championed by the public, which included Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was whittled down by a panel of librarians, academics, booksellers and other literary figures.
However Rowling, the most successful British author of her generation, was rejected, amid claims the panel wanted to prioritise someone whose work was less well-known.
BBC Arts, which co-founded the initiative with the charity The Reading Agency, insisted that the decision had nothing to do with the transgender row
‘Big discussion about JK Rowling’
Literary classics that did make the cut included A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carré and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.
Rowling has been vilified ever since facing accusations of transphobia in June 2020, when she mocked an online article that used the words “people who menstruate” instead of “women”. She has since defended herself against the claims.
Susheila Nasta, a judge in the contest and emeritus professor of modern literature at Queen Mary and Westfield University, told The Sunday Times: “There was a big discussion about JK Rowling.
“She was on the long-list with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. A space was cleared for someone equally as good but whose work was not as well-known. There were some very tricky decisions.”
While the Jubilee list does not quite feature one book published in every year of the Queen’s reign, it is not far off – with each group of choices spread throughout a decade.