JK Rowling has announced she will release a brand new fantasy story, The Ickabog, to raise money for charity.
The new children's story, which "is not a Harry Potter spin-off", will be released chapter by chapter online for free during lockdown, while author royalties from the published books, due out in November, will go to "groups who've been particularly impacted by the pandemic".
"Over 10 years ago, I wrote a stand-alone fairy tale called The Ickabog," she announced on Twitter. "I always meant to publish it, but after the last Potter was released I wrote two novels for adults and, after some dithering, decided to put those out next.
"Until very recently, the only people who’d heard the story of The Ickabog were my two younger children," the Harry Potter author told her 14.6 million followers.
"Over time I came to think of The Ickabog as just for my family. The manuscript went up into the attic, where it remained until a few weeks ago."
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Rowling said the box was like a "time capsule" that, once she opened it up, provided the basis for a first draft once she had re-ordered the snippets of writing.
Over the past few weeks, she said, she has been rewriting and come to the decision to release The Ickabog online for free, "so children on lockdown, or even those back at school during these strange, unsettling times, can read it or have it read to them".
"We’ll be publishing a chapter (or 2 or 3) every weekday, starting at 3.00pm today and ending on July 10th," Rowling explained. "You don’t need to register to access the story. You can read it for free on a new website we’ll be launching shortly."
The award-winning author is also asking children to submit their illustrations of the story, with the best drawings set to be included in the finished books.
Rowling published her final Harry Potter book in 2007 and has since written five novels for an older readership, four of them published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith – The Cuckoo's Calling (2013), The Silkworm (2014), Career of Evil (2015) and Lethal White (2018).
The first chapters of The Ickabog will be released at 3pm today on The Ickabog website. If you’re looking for something to watch, check out our TV guide.