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Some of Britain’s greatest authors have been snubbed by the BBC as both JK Rowling‘s Harry Potter and JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings have been left out of the BBC‘s list of books from the Queen‘s 70-year reign.

The BBC’s Big Jubilee Read has been compiled following a five-month search that has involved librarians from towns and villages across the UK – along with readers in 54 countries. 

It aims to offer 70 pieces of ‘brilliant, beautiful and thrilling writing’ produced by authors from all over the Commonwealth over the last 70 years, 14 of whom are from the UK.

Yet two of Britain’s most prestigious novelists have been omitted from the list, The Times reports.

JK Rowling’s Harry Potter, almost certainly the UK’s largest literary export over the period, has been left out alongside JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings – beloved since its publication in 1954.

Both franchises were hugely popular globally, both in terms of the original books and subsequent films. 

It comes as British megastar author Rowling, 56, has faced accusations of transphobia after she mocked an online article in June 2020 for using the phrase ‘people who menstruate’ instead of ‘women’.

She later defended herself against the claims in a passionate essay but has been hounded online by some members of the trans community ever since.

JK Rowling pictured at the world premiere of the movie Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore at the Royal Festival Hall in London last month

JK Rowling pictured at the world premiere of the movie Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore at the Royal Festival Hall in London last month

JK Rowling pictured at the world premiere of the movie Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore at the Royal Festival Hall in London last month

JRR Tolkien pictured with a map of Middle Earth, part of The Lord of the Rings series, in 1962

JRR Tolkien pictured with a map of Middle Earth, part of The Lord of the Rings series, in 1962

JRR Tolkien pictured with a map of Middle Earth, part of The Lord of the Rings series, in 1962

The BBC's Big Jubilee Read has been created to commemorate the Queen's 70 years on the throne

The BBC's Big Jubilee Read has been created to commemorate the Queen's 70 years on the throne

The BBC’s Big Jubilee Read has been created to commemorate the Queen’s 70 years on the throne

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was considered for the list, but did not make the cut despite its global popularity

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was considered for the list, but did not make the cut despite its global popularity

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was considered for the list, but did not make the cut despite its global popularity

An initial long list of 153 books had to be cut down by more than half to 70 – one for each year of the monarch’s reign. 

Susheila Nasta, emeritus professor of modern literature at Queen Mary and Westfield University, said there was a ‘big discussion over about JK Rowling’ before the list was completed.

She added: ‘She was on the long-list with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. 

‘A space was cleared for someone equally as good but whose work was not as well known. There were some very tricky decisions.’

But the list, to be published in full on Monday, does feature other books that have later been turned into popular television series or films.

Included are Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, John Le Carré’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Yann Martel’s Life of Pi.

Debbie Hicks, creative director of The Reading Agency charity that joined with the BBC to create the list, said: ‘We want this list to be the start of a national conversation about great reads. 

‘We were determined that this would be a reader-driven list.’

She added that several books featured on the list due to their ‘cultural and historical significance in the decade they were published’, including lesser known titles such as The Lonely Londoners Trinidad and Tobago author Sam Selvon’s – a story on the Windrush generation arriving in the UK and trying to fit in.

But despite the list having been made to mark the Queen’s Jubilee, some of her favourite reads have also not made the cut.

She is understood to have inherited a love for horse racing novels from her mother, particularly those of former jockey Dick Francis.

And while there are books based around birds, whales and tigers, there was no place for horse racing hits such as Black Beauty and National Velvet.

Suzy Klein, head of arts and classical music TV at the BBC, said: ‘Nineteen years on from the Big Read, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee feels like the perfect opportunity to foreground some of the greatest writing from across the Commonwealth in our Big Jubilee Read. 

‘The list of 70 books – one for each year of Elizabeth II’s reign – is a real opportunity to discover stories from across continents and taking us through the decades, books that we might never have otherwise read, and reading authors whose work deserves a spotlight to be shone on it. 

‘It’s a really exciting way to share the love of books with readers of all ages, and to give book groups and book borrowers a plethora of great titles to try, borrow, share and discuss.’ 

How many books from the BBC’s Big Jubilee Read have you read? 

The BBC’s Big Jubilee Read has been compiled following a five-month search that has involved librarians from towns and villages across the UK – along with readers in 54 countries.

It is a celebration of 70 books, one for each year the Queen has reigned, written by Commonwealth authors during her time as monarch. 

1952-1961

The Palm-Wine Drinkard – Amos Tutuola (1952, Nigeria)

The Hills Were Joyful Together – Roger Mais (1953, Jamaica)

In the Castle of My Skin – George Lamming (1953, Barbados)

My Bones and My Flute – Edgar Mittelholzer (1955, Guyana)

The Lonely Londoners – Sam Selvon (1956, Trinidad and Tobago/England)

The Guide – R. K. Narayan (1958, India)

To Sir, With Love – E. R. Braithwaite (1959, Guyana)

One Moonlit Night – Caradog Prichard (1961, Wales)

A House for Mr Biswas – VS Naipaul (1961, Trinidad and Tobago/England)

Sunlight on a Broken Column – Attia Hosain (1961, India)

1962-1971

A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess (1962, England)

The Interrogation – J.M.G. Le Clézio (1963, France/Mauritius)

The Girls of Slender Means – Muriel Spark (1963, Scotland)

Arrow of God – Chinua Achebe (1964, Nigeria)

Death of a Naturalist – Seamus Heaney (1966, Northern Ireland)

Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys (1966, Dominica/Wales)

A Grain of Wheat – Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (1967, Kenya)

Picnic at Hanging Rock – Joan Lindsay (1967, Australia)

The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born – Ayi Kwei Armah (1968, Ghana)

When Rain Clouds Gather – Bessie Head (1968, Botswana/South Africa)

1972-1981

The Nowhere Man – Kamala Markandaya (1972, India)

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – John Le Carré (1974, England)

The Thorn Birds – Colleen McCullough (1977, Australia)

The Crow Eaters – Bapsi Sidhwa (1978, Pakistan)

The Sea, The Sea – Iris Murdoch (1978, England)

Who Do You think You Are? – Alice Munro (1978, Canada)

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams (1979, England)

Tsotsi – Athol Fugard (1980, South Africa)

Clear Light of Day – Anita Desai (1980, India)

Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie (1981, England/India)

1982-1991

Schindler’s Ark – Thomas Keneally (1982, Australia)

Beka Lamb – Zee Edgell (1982, Belize)

The Bone People – Keri Hulme (1984, New Zealand)

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood (1985, Canada)

Summer Lightning – Olive Senior (1986, Jamaica)

The Whale Rider – Witi Ihimaera (1987, New Zealand)

The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro (1989, England)

Omeros – Derek Walcott (1990, Saint Lucia)

The Adoption Papers – Jackie Kay (1991, Scotland)

Cloudstreet – Tim Winton (1991, Australia)

1992-2001

The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje (1992, Canada/Sri Lanka)

The Stone Diaries – Carol Shields (1993, Canada)

Paradise – Abdulrazak Gurnah (1994, Tanzania/England)

A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry (1995, India/Canada)

Salt – Earl Lovelace (1996, Trinidad and Tobago)

The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy (1997, India)

The Blue Bedspread – Raj Kamal Jha (1999, India)

Disgrace – J.M. Coetzee (1999, South Africa/Australia)

White Teeth – Zadie Smith (2000, England)

Life of Pi – Yann Martel (2001, Canada)

2002-2011

Small Island – Andrea Levy (2004, England)

The Secret River – Kate Grenville (2005, Australia)

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak (2005, Australia)

Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2006, Nigeria)

A Golden Age – Tahmima Anam (2007, Bangladesh)

The Boat – Nam Le (2008, Australia)

Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel (2009, England)

The Book of Night Women – Marlon James (2009, Jamaica)

The Memory of Love – Aminatta Forna (2010, Sierra Leone/Scotland)

Chinaman – Shehan Karunatilaka (2010, Sri Lanka)

2012-2021

Our Lady of the Nile – Scholastique Mukasonga (2012, Rwanda)

The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton (2013, New Zealand)

Behold the Dreamers – Imbolo Mbue (2016, Cameroon)

The Bone Readers – Jacob Ross (2016, Grenada)

How We Disappeared – Jing-Jing Lee (2019, Singapore)

Girl, Woman, Other – Bernardine Evaristo (2019, England)

The Night Tiger – Yangsze Choo (2019, Malaysia)

Shuggie Bain – Douglas Stuart (2020, Scotland)

A Passage North – Anuk Arudpragasam (2021, Sri Lanka)

The Promise – Damon Galgut (2021, South Africa) 

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Source: DailyMail

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