The similarities between Jill Murphy’s Worst Witch books for children and Harry Potter have often been remarked upon by fans.
Murphy herself has, until now, remained silent on the matter. But in a new interview, she says that she would appreciate a “thank you” from JK Rowling.
Rowling has not acknowledged that Murphy’s work was an inspiration, although The Worst Witch was first published in 1974 and had become a best-selling series by the time Rowling sat down to write her first Harry Potter story.
Murphy said: “It would be nice, I suppose, if people would say thank you. But you have to be gracious.”
Both series feature young characters who go off to boarding school – Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches in Murphy’s books, and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in Rowling’s stories.
While Hogwarts has boys and girls as its pupils, Murphy’s school is for female witches only. Murphy’s publishers “asked if I could make the school co-ed, which I didn’t want to do. In retrospect, that would have cleared the pitch for those who came after me,” she said in an apparent reference to Rowling.
The Worst Witch heroine is Mildred Hubble, who Murphy, 70, said was partly based on herself.
The Worst Witch was turned into a BBC television series and is now a stage show in the West End.