Harry Potter and Dumbledore

As location filming for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince begins (it started on the 25th in Lacock, Wiltshire), it’s been something of a busy week in the boy wizard’s world.

At Christie’s, a signed first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone sold for a staggering £19,700 (that’s not going to be in my Christmas stocking, I’m guessing). A publisher’s proof with the misspelling of the author’s name (as J. A. Rowling) sold for £2,250 and a signed paperback edition was sold with a similarly inscribed hardback edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets for £1,250. Another first edition of the first book sold for £9,000 earlier this year. So it’s always worth scouring your shelves ? you never know when that book that got pushed to the back might be valuable.

It was also announced that sales of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows boosted Amazon’s revenues ? although the company didn’t make a profit on the fastest-selling book ever due to the steep discounts it had offered. At 2.5 million copies, the book was, unsurprisingly, Amazon’s biggest new product release.

Most momentously, during a book tour of the US, J. K. Rowling told her audience at Carnegie Hall last Friday that Hogwart’s beloved headmaster Albus Dumbledore was gay. He had fallen in love with rival Gellert Grindelwald, but the author said that this love was ‘his great tragedy’ and he had been ‘horribly, horribly let down’.

She went on to add that she regarded her novels as a ‘prolonged argument for tolerance’, but that tolerance was sadly lacking in many fans’ responses to the revelation. The author has since issued a statement to declare her dismay: ‘It has certainly never been news to me that a brave and brilliant man could love other men. He is my character. He is what he is and I have the right to say what I say about him.’ Quite.

dumbledoreMichael Gambon as Dumbledore. JKR told the director David Yates that Dumbledore was gay while he was preparing the sixth film, which Maichael Gambon and Daniel Ratcliffe shot scenes for yesterday

Sadly, it seems the news will only fuel the bans that the Potter books have attracted in the US, where they are accused of promoting witchcraft. The Association of American Libraries (www.ala.org) recently celebrated the 26th Banned Books Week, encouraging people to read the works that are on the banned and challenged lists at libraries around the country (for a list of the most challenged books of 1990?2000, see the list here ). You’ll be shocked by what’s on there, so go away, strike a blow for freedom, and read one of them now.

As the author of Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury, said: ‘You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.’