The problem with authors writing fan fiction

The notion of canon has been forever altered, in no small part because of the creators themselves

J.K. Rowling Dumbledore and Grindelwald.
(Image credit: Illustrated | TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images, Ponomariova_Maria/iStock, Courtesy Warner Bros.)

The internet was abuzz a few weeks ago after author J.K. Rowling revealed that the characters Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald had an "incredibly intense" and "passionate" relationship with a "sexual dimension." Though this unsolicited declaration was especially bizarre and meme-worthy, it was only the latest of several years worth of post-series changes to the Potterverse. Hermione is (possibly) black, Nagini is an Asian woman, wizards don't have indoor plumbing, etc. Since the final book of the original Harry Potter series was published in 2007, Rowling's website Pottermore has become a fountainhead for excess information about the wizarding world. Conveniently, much of that information has fallen into the category of diversity, as if Rowling thought she could retroactively add queer wizards and wizards of color and pretend they were there all along. Perhaps, like the horcruxes, we just didn't know they existed until the end.

The massive wave of jokes that came at Rowling's expense after the Dumbledore-Grindelwald reveal showed how dismissive fans have become of her updates, and this isn't the first time fans have poked back at the creator. As Rowling has continued to build on her franchise, with the Fantastic Beasts films and the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, some fans have taken to being more discriminate in what they understand to be canon — the original seven books, no more and no less (well, maybe less, if you want to cut the epilogue).

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Maya Phillips

Maya Phillips is an arts, entertainment, and culture writer whose writing has appeared in The New York Times, Vulture, Slate, Mashable, American Theatre, Black Nerd Problems, and more. She is also a web producer at The New Yorker, and her debut poetry collection, Erou, is forthcoming in fall 2019 from Four Way Books. She lives in Brooklyn.