Rowling "fierce" but fair about Potter: editor

Wed Dec 3, 2008 12:28pm EST
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By Ian MacKenzie and Nick Zieminski

EDINBURGH/NEW YORK (Reuters) - J.K. Rowling's first editor, who championed Harry Potter after several publishers had turned the boy wizard down, described the author as "fierce" but fair to work with.

Barry Cunningham, 55, was at British publisher Bloomsbury in the mid-1990s when he received a manuscript of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone."

"When I first got the book I didn't know everyone else in the universe had turned it down, so I read it as a book and I loved it," Cunningham told Reuters in Edinburgh on Wednesday.

"What I really loved about it was the friendship of the children, the support they gave to each other and the fact that they were able to overcome so many difficulties ... the adult world was against them and they got together to overcome that."

Cunningham was speaking at the National Library of Scotland, which is exhibiting his copy of "The Tales of Beedle the Bard," one of seven hand-written and illustrated books Rowling made of her new collection of wizard fairy tales.

She gave six away as gifts, and the seventh copy was bought at auction a year ago by online retailer Amazon for $4 million.

At a similar event in the United States, another copy given to Harry Potter co-editor Arthur Levine of publishers Scholastic went on display at the New York Public Library.

"Will people ever get tired of Harry Potter? No. I really don't think so," Levine said.   Continued...

<p>Barry Cunningham holds his one of only seven copies of JK Rowling's 'The Tales of Beedle the Bard' book during a press preview at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh, Scotland, December 3, 2008. REUTERS/David Moir</p>