JK Rowling has revealed she wrote “quite a lot” of a “very bad” adult novel at the same time she wrote Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

The best-selling author made the revelation in an essay published by The Times, in which she also discussed the conception of her new children’s book, The Christmas Pig.

Reflecting on her past, Rowling wrote: “In my early twenties I wrote quite a lot of a very bad novel called The Private Joke. I regularly abandoned it for months at a time to write other things, then picked it up again.

According to Rowling, part of the manuscript was “sitting up in the luggage rack” when she was travelling by train from Manchester to London at the age of 25, when she came up with the idea for Harry Potter.

“I kept writing The Private Joke alongside Philosopher’s Stone for a while until it dawned on me, to paraphrase the iconic Sesame Street song, that one of these things is better than the other, and I finally put The Private Joke out of its misery,” she wrote.

In a Netflix special released earlier this week, comedian Dave Chappelle defended Rowling’s controversial remarks about transgender people.

“They cancelled JK Rowling,” said Chappelle, as part of a stand-up routine that was condemned by viewers and civil rights organisations. “She said gender was a fact, the trans community got mad as s***, they started calling her a Terf [Trans-exclusionary radical feminist]… I’m Team Terf. Gender is a fact.”

Rowling’s comments about gender have previously been criticised by fans, LGBTQ+ activist groups, and some of the stars of the Harry Potter film adaptations. The author has denied that she was being transphobic.

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