Rowling to Speak @ Harvard Commencement

By Neal Comment

jk-rowling-headshot.jpgThe Harvard Crimson reported yesterday that J.K. Rowling will deliver this year’s commencement address to Crimson grads. In announcing the choice, Harvard prez Drew G. Faust declared that “perhaps no one in our time has done more… to inspire young people to experience the excitement and the sheer joy of reading.” (Certainly more than Steve Jobs!) Anyone want to place odds on the theme of intellectual property playing a huge role in her speech?

In that vein, it’s worth noting (as Publishers Lunch did earlier this week) that Rowling and Warner Bros. have filed their full complaint against RDR Books, the publishers of the Harry Potter Lexicon. The Potter fansite Leaky Cauldron offers an effective summary, including a personal statement from Rowling, in which she states her belief that “the proposed book is neither commentary nor criticism of the Harry Potter series—either of which would be entirely legitimate—but instead lists in alphabetical order the various fictional characters and things in the Harry Potter universe.” Perhaps more importantly, she states, “I have learned that RDR Books intends to market the ‘lexicon’ in a way that suggests that I have endorsed it when, in fact, the opposite is true.” This is an apparent reference to the use of her praise for the original online version of the Lexicon in promotional materials and on the back cover.

(There’s also an interesting tidbit where Lexicon editor Steve Vander Ark appears to have approached Rowling’s agents with the idea that if she wanted to do an official enyclopedia, he wouldn’t mind being hired to work on it, since he knows the material so well and all.)