British University Puts Trigger Warning on ‘Harry Potter’ Book

WASHINGTON - APRIL 05: British author J.K. Rowling, creator of the Harry Potter fantasy series, points to the place on her forehead where her title character has a scar while reading "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" during the Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House …
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The British University of Chester has placed a trigger warning on J.K. Rowling’s book Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

The University of Chester’s English Department lists Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone as one of the three set literary texts on their “Approaches to Literature” module, but have found it necessary to include the trigger warning that these books could lead to “difficult conversations about gender, race, sexuality, class, and identity”.

Chester’s English Department added the trigger warning marked “CONTENT WARNING” to the bottom of the module’s reading list, which features two children’s books besides the Harry Potter title, Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights and Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games.

The content warning in full read:


Although we are studying a selection of Young Adult texts on this Module, the nature of the theories we apply to them can lead to some difficult conversations about gender, race, sexuality, class, and identity.

These topics will be treated objectively, critically, and most crucially, with respect. If anyone has any issues with the content, please get in touch with the Module Leader to make them aware.”

Course leader Dr Richard Leahy may possibly have betrayed a historic disdain for Rowling, tweeting in 2019: “JK Rowling reveals that he is not the best mate of mine”, the Daily Mail reports. Leahy has since deleted his Twitter account.

The Daily Mail, for their part, states the “Approaches to Literature” module at Chester University is the only English module at Chester they could find that has a content warning – with the English department not adding any warnings for modules featuring Shakesphere’s sometimes graphically violent works and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s opium-addicted sleuth Sherlock Holmes.

A spokesperson from the University of Chester suggested their English department “promote rather than avoid discussion” on “all the issues, challenges and complexity of humankind”.

When asked why the trigger warning was only added to this reading list, the University claimed that the “content warning” is “a standard form of words for level 4 students – usually joining from school or college”, and the warning was added, “to reiterate that young adult texts can also prompt important conversations”.

The University of Chester also claimed that all their reading lists contain a “generic paragraph” to “draw attention to the opportunity for individual students to talk with tutors if anything is particularly difficult because of its personal relevance” – however, the Daily Mail‘s investigation did not corroborate this.

Rowling has been an outspoken critic of the radical transgender movement and became a target for harassment by extremist transgender activists by tweeting out in support of Maya Forstater in December 2019, a British tax expert who was fired after tweeting that “men cannot change into women”.

Rowling at the time tweeted:

“Dress however you please.
Call yourself whatever you like.
Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you.
Live your best life in peace and security.
But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill”

Rowling has made several other statements on women’s rights issues that have inadvertently provoked pro-transgender radicals, such as tweeting out 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?”.

Rowling’s outspokenness on these newly controversial issues has prompted a backlash against her with two British schools removing her name from one of their houses, being effectively removed from an HBO Max Harry Potter programme, with a disclaimer being shown before her few seconds of screen time that highlighted the clip was filmed in 2019 before her comments on transgender issues, and two American sports leagues that play the fictional sport ‘quidditch’ – a game Rowling created for Harry Potter – announcing they are planning a name change.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.