EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Author J.K. Rowling said on Thursday that it was demand from Harry Potter fans that prompted her to publish her latest work "The Tales of Beedle the Bard."
Proceeds from the collection of fairy tales, which has a global print run of 7.5 million copies, will go to a charity for vulnerable children in Eastern Europe co-founded by Rowling.
The 43-year-old originally hand-wrote and illustrated seven copies of Beedle the Bard, six of which she gave away as gifts and one which she sold at auction for the charity. It fetched $4 million a year ago.
"The idea actually came from you, by which I mean Harry Potter fans," Rowling told around 200 primary school children gathered at Edinburgh's Parliament Hall for a tea party that officially launched Beedle the Bard.
"There was quite a lot of high feeling from Harry Potter fans that only someone who had two million pounds could afford to read the book. I thought 'fair point', so I thought 'I'll publish it and then the charity can have that money too'."
Beedle the Bard is mentioned in the final Potter book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," as having been left to the boy wizard's friend Hermione Granger by Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts school.
Only one of the five stories -- "The Tale of the Three Brothers" -- was recounted in the Potter book, and the volume contains clues that were to prove crucial to Potter's final mission to destroy Lord Voldemort. Rowling read a passage from the tales to her young audience in Edinburgh. The children, all from local schools, also met the British author and received a free copy of the book.
During a question-and-answer session, the writer spoke about her favorite authors as a child and her love of Christmas, and revealed she has had a fear of spiders ever since she was young.
"What's funny is, as you probably know if you've read Harry Potter, I gave Ron that fear. He's terrified of spiders, and Rupert Grint, who plays Ron in the films, is absolutely petrified of spiders.
"I feel so sorry for him because I kept putting Ron in these situations where he had to encounter them."
Net profits from Beedle the Bard go to The Children's High Level Group (CHLG) (www.chlg.org), which campaigns to protect and promote children's rights. It began work in Romania before going to Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and the Czech Republic.
In July 2007, Deathly Hallows became the fastest selling book ever. Between them the Harry Potter books have sold over 400 million copies and turned Rowling into the world's wealthiest writer.
They have also spawned a successful movie franchise which has earned around $4.5 billion at the box office with five films released. A further three are planned, with Deathly Hallows being divided into two parts.
Beedle the Bard may not be Rowling's final word on the world of Harry Potter. She has said she plans an encyclopedia on the series and will donate the proceeds to charity.
Writing by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Matthew Jones