J.K. Rowling Claims Ex-Husband Held Harry Potter Manuscript 'Hostage': He Knew What It 'Meant to Me'

JK Rowliing
JK Rowliing

Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling is claiming her first husband Jorge Arantes once held her Harry Potter manuscript "hostage," in an effort to keep her from leaving him.

In the first episode of the Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling podcast, which was released Tuesday, the controversial author recalled being in a "bad situation" with Arantes, including a "hugely traumatic" miscarriage that left her "not in a balanced state of mind."

"The situation was a bad situation, but until you actually go through it, you don't know what you would choose to do," said Rowling, 57, of the marriage, which lasted from 1992 to 1995. "I left him twice before I left for good, and then I went back twice."

She went on to say that her marriage had "turned very violent and very controlling," at that point, during which time Arantes was "searching my handbag every time I [came] home."

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Shutterstock Jorge Arantes and J.K Rowling

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"I haven't got a key to my own front door, because he's gotta control the front door," Rowling said. "He's not a stupid person — I think he knew, or suspected, that I was gonna try and bolt again."

Rowling said "it was a horrible state of tension to live in because you have to act, and I don't think I'm a very good actor; I don't think I have a very good poker face."

"And that was a huge strain — to act as though I wasn't going. That's a terrible way to live, and yet the manuscript kept growing; I had continued to write," the author said.

She went on to accuse Arantes, saying, "In fact, he knew what that manuscript meant to me, because at a point, he took the manuscript and hid it. And that was his hostage."

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It got to the point where Rowling "would take a few pages of the manuscript into work every day, just a few pages so he wouldn't realize anything was missing, and I would photocopy it," when she'd made the decision to leave Arantes for good.

"And gradually, in a cupboard in the staff room, bit by bit, the photocopied manuscript grew and grew and grew, because I suspected that if I wasn't able to get out with everything, he would burn it or take it or hold it hostage," she said.

Rowling explained that the manuscript "still meant so much to" her, and that "the only thing I prioritized beyond that, obviously, was my daughter [Jessica Rowling Arantes, now 29]. But at that point, she's still inside me, so she's as safe as she can be in that situation."

The first novel in the series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, would go on to be published in 1997. Its success, and that of its subsequent installments, catapulted Rowling to worldwide fame.

Contact information for Arantes, or an attorney for him, was not immediately available.


Ben Pruchnie/Getty J.K. Rowling

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Rowling's comments on the new podcast come more than two years after she came under fire in June 2020, when she appeared to support anti-transgender sentiments in a series of tweets.

Though she denied that her views on feminism are transphobic, she doubled down on her controversial standpoints in a lengthy essay shared on her website days later.

Potter actors Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint each spoke out against Rowling's much-criticized remarks regarding the transgender community. Radcliffe, 33, stated definitively in a previous essay for The Trevor Project that "transgender women are women."

"Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I," Radcliffe wrote in part at the time.