JK Rowling's trans critics spectacularly fail in bid to cancel author

JK Rowling

A trans backlash has failed to cancel JK Rowling after the author's opening line of her first Harry Potter novel was hailed among the best of all time

Georgina Cutler

By Georgina Cutler

Published: 27/09/2023

- 19:35

The author is an advocate for female-only spaces and the rights of biological women

The opening line of JK Rowling's first Harry Potter novel has been hailed among the best of all time, with trans activists failing in their bid to cancel the author.

Despite facing criticism over her views on transgender issues and women’s rights, Rowling's Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone has been voted one of the most memorable and captivating opening lines from the world of literature by Amazon readers.

A poll of British readers found that the opening line was the fifth most popular with 22 per cent choosing it as their favourite.

The first line of the book reads: “Mr and Mrs Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”

WATCH NOW: JK Rowling branded 'transphobic' 

Rowling is an advocate for female-only spaces and the rights of biological women which has led to a boycott of her books.

Some activists have previously branded the writer a “terf” – a slur used to describe those who believe people cannot change sex.

“No matter how hard extreme trans activists try to ruin JK Rowling’s life and career, they fail," Helen Joyce, director of advocacy, Sex Matters, a human-rights organisation, told The Telegraph.

“She remains one of the world’s most popular and beloved authors, and it’s a delight to see the book-buying public ignore their attempts to destroy her for the heresy of saying that women’s rights matter, and can’t be protected if men can claim to be women.”


The study of readers’ views was launched by Amazon Books UK, ahead of the Amazon Literary Partnership, which offers support to aspiring and emerging underrepresented writers.

Winning the poll with 29 per cent of the vote was Charles Dickens’ opening to his 1840 novel A Tale of Two Cities.

The opening line reads: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”.

Following second is George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four: “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen”, which received 24 per cent of the vote.

Rowling is an advocate for female-only spaces and the rights of biological women which has led to a boycott of her books

Getty/ Samir Hussein

Darren Hardy, manager for UK Author and Editorial Programmes at Amazon UK, which commissioned the survey of 2,000 people, said: “We know how hard it can be to put pen to a blank piece of paper when fashioning a novel, yet we also know how important these first few words can be to entice the reader further.

“The captivating and iconic first lines highlighted in the research demonstrate the power and impact words can have not only on popular culture but also our lives.

"We hope that through the Amazon Literary Partnership, we can bring more voices to the fore and inspire readers with their words.”

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