J.K. Rowling re-launches website, brings back classic elements and answers new questions

The desktop and the secrets have returned!

5:19 pm EDT, December 20, 2016

Just in time for the holidays, J.K. Rowling has gifted Harry Potter fans a brand new website.

Between a new look, new features, and a hidden area, the refreshed design promises lots of good content in the months and years ahead. Heck, the mere fact that she launched this right before Christmas reminds us of the days when she’d add surprises to her website around the holidays. Let’s break it down…

The new design

The new JKRowling.com looks like the old design we all remember from the Harry Potter era, but this time its design consists of a real desk. As she explains in a welcoming post:

A few years ago I resurrected JKR.com, but I didn’t feel the same connection to the new design and it showed, because I hardly ever wrote anything for it.

So I decided to start over. I wanted to bring my website back to what it used to be: something real and personal. This is a faithful representation of my writing desk, except that I haven’t put on the bits of stale popcorn and biscuit crumbs that usually litter the surface. Everything looks a bit tidier and cleaner than it really is, but after all, it’s only polite to make an effort for guests. The various objects littered around really do live in my writing room; some of them have sentimental value, some are practical and others have found their way in via friends and family members.

One classic element of the original website design has returned: A secret page linked via an inanimate object. A crumpled up piece of paper on the home page is quietly linked to a URL ending in “/blank-page”. There you’ll find a page titled “Rumours Denounced,” but sadly, its currently void of denounced rumors:

The new website’s homepage will remind us all of this classic JKRowling.com design:

Sadly, the mystery door hasn’t returned. But maybe it will the next time she wants to make a big announcement? Still, the Rumours Denounced page should offer a few good revelations in the future.

Her new website has five main sections: Home, About, Writing, News, and Opinion. We hope that last one will receive regular updates, like when Rowling has something to say that can’t fit on Twitter. Right now it’s only home to a Lumos Gala speech from September.

‘Fantastic Beasts’ questions answered

As a Christmas gift to fans, Rowling used the bottom of her welcome post to answer a few questions about Fantastic Beasts. There are two in particular we want to share here:

1) Her explanation for why Harry isn’t an Obscurus. While not surprising, it’s cool to see her discuss Harry’s world through the lens of Fantastic Beasts:

6. Why didn’t Harry Potter develop an Obscurus?

An Obscurus is developed under very specific conditions: trauma associated with the use of magic, internalized hatred of one’s own magic and a conscious attempt to suppress it.

The Dursleys were too frightened of magic ever to acknowledge its existence to Harry. While Vernon and Petunia had a confused hope that if they were nasty enough to Harry his strange abilities might somehow evaporate, they never taught him to be ashamed or afraid of magic. Even when he was scolded for ‘making things happen’, he didn’t make any attempt to suppress his true nature, nor did he ever imagine that he had the power to do so.

2) Grindelwald did not turn into Graves using Polyjuice Potion. This is news, because a few weeks ago producer David Heyman said Polyjuice Potion was how he did it:

5. Why did ‘revelio’ undo the effects of Polyjuice Potion?

It didn’t. Grindelwald’s Transfiguration surpasses that of most wizards, so he used a spell, not a potion, to take on the appearance of Percival Graves.

Rowling’s new website appears to be having some issues on launch day. You may need to refresh each page a bunch of times before you get them to work.

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