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JK Rowling discusses mother's battle with MS

JK Rowling discusses mother's battle with MS
30th April 2014

JK Rowling has talked openly about her mother's battle with multiple sclerosis (MS) and her own sorrow that she did not live to see the first Harry Potter novel published.

The writer explained that her mother's diagnosis at 35 was "an enormous shock" and her health had deteriorated by the time she knew she had the illness. Anne Rowling died aged 45 from complications related to MS.

Speaking on BBC Woman's Hour, Rowling said she wished she had the opportunity to share her success with her mother, stating: "She never knew about Harry Potter - I started writing it six months before she died, so that is painful. I wish she'd known."

The novelist chose MS as a topic for the BBC Radio 4 show, which she was guest editing, and spoke frankly about her mother's illness.

"She always seemed very young. She was very fit, she was a non-smoker, non-drinker, and I say all of this because of course then for her to be diagnosed at 35 with an illness that would kill her was just the most enormous shock to us and everyone who knew her," Rowling explained.

The author has provided significant funding for Edinburgh University's Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Centre in memory of her mother, who she described as "a passionate reader".

Over 100,000 people in the UK have MS and those with the illness are usually diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40. The disease attacks the central nervous system, damaging the coating around nerve fibres, myelin.

There is currently no cure and symptoms can vary, but may include problems with vision, difficulty walking, dizziness, fatigue, spasms and bladder problems.

JK Rowling, the first guest editor of Woman's Hour in 60 years, said MS had an "enormous impact" on family life after her mother was diagnosed when the author was a teenager.

She explained by the time she was given a diagnosis her mother "was quite ill" and had been showing symptoms for a number of years.

Read about Barchester expertise in offering multiple sclerosis support.