The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling is an audio documentary produced by The Free Press that examines some of the most contentious conflicts of our time through the life and career of the world’s most successful author. In conversation with host Megan Phelps-Roper, J.K. Rowling speaks with unprecedented candor and depth about the controversies surrounding her—from book bans to debates on gender and sex. The series also examines the forces propelling this moment in history, through interviews with Rowling’s supporters and critics, journalists, historians, clinicians, and more.
In an essay to announce the podcast, host Phelps-Roper wrote:
Rowling was ready for the conversation I had suggested—and she had many things to discuss. Her experience of escaping a physically and psychologically abusive marriage. The origin story of “Harry Potter,” and its relevance to the conflict Rowling is embroiled in today. And the details of how—and why—she came to drop a “hand grenade into Twitter” with her tweets in 2020.
Rowling told me that she took that step with full knowledge of the magnitude of the backlash her statements would cause.
“I never set out to upset anyone,” she told me. “However, I was not uncomfortable with getting off my pedestal.” Of the fans who accused Rowling of “ruining her legacy,” the author said: “You could not have misunderstood me more profoundly.”
Megan Phelps-Roper is a writer, host, and producer with The Free Press. Born and raised in the Westboro Baptist Church, Megan left a life of religious extremism in 2012. She has spent the past decade using her experiences to work with schools on anti-bullying campaigns, with law enforcement organizations investigating deradicalization, and with tech companies on the intersection of safety, free speech, and the value of dialogue across ideological divides. Her journey has been chronicled in The New Yorker, a trio of BBC documentaries, a TED talk, and her memoir Unfollow.
The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling will begin on Tuesday, February 21, everywhere podcasts are available.