JK Rowling invented a character called Barry Fairbrother for The Casual Vacancy - but is the name a jokey reference to the editor who made her name?
“To have your early editor disposed of in your first adult book can hardly be an accident.”
Not that he is offended - Cunningham said he felt “honoured” and amused to be acknowledged by the author he discovered when she was a struggling single mother.
Rowling had been turned down by a dozen publishers when Cunningham, then an editor at Bloomsbury, read the manuscript of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 1996 and decided to take a chance.
She was paid a £1,500 advance. The seven-book series went on to sell 450 million copies and earn Rowling an estimated £620 million fortune.
Rowling has said: “If it wasn’t for Barry Cunningham, Harry Potter might still be languishing in his cupboard under the stairs. I doubt any of the writers with whom he has worked could be more grateful to him.”
Cunningham left Bloomsbury in 2000 and now runs his own company, Chicken House, which publishes children’s books. He was awarded an OBE in 2010.death symbolises “leaving your editor behind as you move to adult books”.
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