Alison Flood writing in guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 4 February 2009
French president Nicolas Sarkozy yesterday bestowed the title of knight of France's prestigious Legion of Honour on the Harry Potter author at a ceremony in the Elysée presidential palace. "You've helped give young people back the taste for reading and writing," Sarkozy told Rowling, thanking her for making children understand that "reading is not a punishment, but a source of pleasure".
Rowling, speaking in French, assured the ceremony that in picking a name for her arch villain, Lord Voldemort, she had not landed upon a French-sounding name because of "anti-French feelings". "I needed a name which evoked power and exoticism," she said, adding that "Voldemort himself is 100% English".
She also revealed that one of her great-grandfathers, who was French, was also bestowed with the title in 1924 for courage on the battlefield during the Battle of Verdun.