While choosing a book, do you need to like the author or the story the most? Several books might hold sentimental or nostalgic value to you, but you might not necessarily agree with the personal views of the authors who penned those books. Sometimes, you might not even know that the author of your favorite book was caught up in a controversy. Read on to find out about the scandals some famous authors have been caught up in:
J.K.Rowling of ‘Harry Potter’:
J.K.Rowling wrote the famous Harry Potter series containing seven books. When she began writing, she was a single, unemployed mother. As the books gained popularity over a decade, Rowling rose to fame and became a billionaire. J.K.Rowling was caught up in a controversy when she tweeted in June 2020:
“‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”
This tweet of hers caused angry outbursts amidst the LGBTQ+ community. LGBTQ+ organizations like GLAAD called her tweet ‘cruel’ and ‘anti-trans’. Rowling published an essay of more than 3000 words on her website defending herself against the criticisms. Again, a particular sentence in the essay came under fire. She had written:
“When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman … then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside.”
This comment again caused an uproar across the LGBTQ+ community and their allies.
James Dashner of ‘Maze Runner’:
Maze Runner is a celebrated series of young adult dystopian science fiction novels written by James Dashner. In the School Library Journal, an article about sexual harassment in children’s books was published on Jan.3, 2018. Under the published article, Several anonymous commenters accused James Dashner of sexual misconduct. Due to these allegations, both his agent and publishing house dropped him. James Dashner took responsibility for his actions and tweeted in his official Twitter account:
“I’ve taken these past few days for introspection, to see if I’ve been part of the problem. I think that I have. I didn’t honor or fully understand boundaries and power dynamics. I can sincerely say that I have never intentionally hurt another person. But to those affected, I am so deeply sorry. I am taking any and all criticism and accusations very seriously, and I will seek counseling and guidance to address them. Thank you for listening.
Jay Asher of ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’:
Thirteen Reasons Why is a popular Young Adult novel that has been successfully adapted into a Netflix series. The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) received an email in April 2017 accusing Jay Asher of predatory behavior on women. Seven female members had signed the email anonymously. The email claimed that Jay Asher used SCBWI conferences to lure new and first-time female authors into sexual affairs. They also added that he had threatened them into silence and continued to feel unsafe at social events. They pleaded that suitable action be taken on Jay Asher.
After the already married Asher accepted that he had had affairs with multiple SCBWI members, he was prohibited from attending the conferences as a guest speaker. The women wrote back saying this wasn’t enough. Hence, Asher was banned from attending any of the group’s events in any capacity in the future.
The acclaimed literary legend Charles Dickens, born in 1812, had his own share of scandal in his times. He married his wife Catherine and sired ten children. Soon, he grew weary of his wife and began writing to his first crush, Maria Beadnell, in 1855, who he had unsuccessfully courted before meeting Catherine. But when he met her in person, several years after he had last seen her, he was disappointed by her physical appearance. He had later written to an admirer that Maria had grown “extremely fat.”
Dickens separated from his wife in 1858 and, using his paternal right to custody, cut her off from their younger children. Meanwhile, his wife’s younger sister Georgina took his side and stayed with him as a housekeeper. There were rumors that Dickens and Georgina were romantically involved. Their relationship was considered incest during the Victorian era.
While rehearsing for the play ‘the Frozen Deep’ by Wilkie Collins, he met the beautiful sixteen-year-old actress Ellen Ternan (Nelly). The forty-five-year-old Dickens became enamored with Nelly. From 1859, Dickens kept Nelly hidden in a London townhouse. Nelly retired from acting and stayed there in isolation until his death. Dickens died in 1870 and left Nelly £1000 in his final will. After that, Nelly remarried George Robinson, a man ten years her junior, and had two children.