Author has starstruck students under her spell

Wed, Feb 13, 2008, 00:00

There was magic in the air around UCD last night as hundreds of Harry Potter fans packed into a lecture theatre to witness author JK Rowling receive the James Joyce award from the university's Literary and Historical Society (L&H).

So overcome was one wizard devotee that she yelled an effusive "I love you" over the tumultuous applause as the author took to the podium.

Sleek and coiffed in her little black dress, Rowling was quick with her response: "I love you too", she told the ecstatic crowd of college students who demonstrated that Pottermania can last well past your schooldays.

Such was the enthusiasm for the thronged event that members of the press were excluded from the private audience of 600, forced to join the overspill in the next-door lecture room and listen to a live satellite feed.

The author, who gave an animated reading from the seventh and final book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, took questions from audience members in her stride, although she did appear a little taken aback to find that at least one UCD student was being graded on her analysis of the Harry Potter books.

She further endeared herself to her Dublin audience by paying tribute to Irish actor Evanna Lynch, who plays Luna Lovegood in the fifth Potter film, Order of the Phoenix. "The only actor who has ever intruded when I was writing was Evanna Lynch. I have heard her voice in my head as I've written Luna," she said.

Some starstruck fans were downcast at the author's confirmation that Harry Potter is probably retired for good. "I do feel that Harry's story is now done," she said, as 600 UCD students sighed in unison.