J.K. Rowling, the author of Harry Potter

Ø 1) Have you read or heard of the books about Harry Potter? Have you seen the films based on the books? Did you like them? Who is the main character and what is he? What is the main idea of the whole series of the books?

Ø 2) Read the text and answer the questions:

a)Who wrote the books about Harry Potter?

b)What is Katherine Rowling by education?

c)What would she have preferred studying? Why didnt she?

d)How many years had she been writing the series?

e)What could you say of her family?

f)Who are the actors in the films based on her books?

J.K. Rowling was born in Chipping Sodury, July 31st 1965. Her childhood was generally happy, although she does remember getting teased because of her name, Rowling - She recalls often getting called Rowling pin by her less than ingenious school friends. J.K. Rowling says she never really warmed to her own name, although, she does remember having a fondness for the name Potter from quite an early age. J.K.Rowling studied at a school in Gloucestershire, before moving to Chepstow, South Wales at the age of 9.

From an early age, J.K. Rowling had an ambition to be a writer. She often tried her hand at writing, although little came from her early efforts. In her own autobiography she remembers with great fondness, when her good friend Sean became the first person to give her the confidence that one day she would be able to make a very good writer.

Sean was also the owner of a battered old Ford Anglia, which would later appear in one of the Harry Potter series as a flying car.

After finishing school, her parents encouraged her to study French at the University of Essex. She slightly regretted choosing French, saying she would have preferred to study English. However, it was her parents wish that she study something more useful than English.

After having spent a year in Paris, J.K.Rowling graduated from university and took various jobs in London. One of her favourite jobs was working for Amnesty International; the charity, which campaigns against human rights abuses throughout the world. Amnesty International, is one of the many charities, which J.K.Rowling has generously supported since she attained a new found wealth.

It was in 1990, that J.K.Rowling first conceived of the idea about Harry Potter. As she recalls, it was on a long train journey from London to Manchester when she began forming in her mind, the characters of the series. At the forefront, was a young boy, not aware that he was a wizard. The train was delayed for over 4 hours, as she didnt have a pen, and was too shy to ask for one nothing was written down. But she remembers being very enthusiastic, and excited about the ideas which were filling her mind.

On arriving in Manchester, she began work on writing the book immediately, although, it would take several years to come to fruition. It was also in December of 1990 that J.K.Rowling lost her mother, who died of Multiple Sclerosis. J.K.Rowling was very close to her mother, and she felt the loss deeply. Her own loss gave an added poignancy to the death of Harry Potters mother in her book. She says her favourite scene in the Philosophers Stone is, The Mirror of Erised, where Harry sees his parents in the mirror.

In 1991, J.K.Rowling left England to get a job as an English teacher in Portugal. It was here that she met her first husband, and together they had a child Jessica. However, after a couple of years, the couple split after a fierce argument; where by all accounts J.K.Rowling was thrown out of the house. So she returned to England in 1994; still trying to finish her first book. She was also working full time, and bringing up her daughter as a single parent. Eventually, she finished her first copy, and sent it off to various agents. She found an agent, Christopher, who spent over a year trying to get a publisher. Eventually, a quite small publisher, Bloomsbury agreed to take the book on. The editor Barry Cunningham also agreed to pay her an advance of £1500. The decision to take on the book was, in large part, due to his 8 year old daughters enthusiastic reception of the first chapter. (However she was advised to continue teaching as writers of childrens books dont tend to get very well paid.)

Within a few weeks of publication, (1996) the book sales really started to take off. The initial print run was of only 1,000; 500 of these went to libraries. First editions are now said to be worth up to £25,000 each. She also received a grant from the Scottish arts council, which enabled her to write full time. After the books initial success in the UK, an American company Scholastic agreed to pay a remarkable £100,000 for the rights to publish in America. In 1998, Warner Bros secured the film rights for the books, giving a 7 figure sum. The films have magnified the success of the books, making Harry Potter into one of the most recognisable media products. Under the close guidance of J.K.Rowling, the films have sought to stay close to the original plot; also at J.K.Rowlings request all the actors are British.

On the 21st December 2006, J.K.Rowling finished her book of the Harry Potter Series Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The book was released in July 2007. J.K.Rowling has said the book is her favourite, and it makes her both happy and sad. She has said she will continue writing but there is no chance of continuing the Harry Potter Series. She however, may release a dictionary of things related to Hogswart and Harry Potter that were never published in other books.

J.K.Rowling currently lives in Scotland, on the banks of the river Tay, with her second husband Neil Murray; J.K.Rowling has three children, two with husband Neil.


Ø 3) Make up an outline of the text in writing.


Ø 1) When did the holiday Halloween appear in our culture? What do people celebrate during Halloween? What is your attitude towards this holiday?

Ø 2) Read the text and answer the questions:

a)When is Halloween celebrated?

b)What was Halloween devoted to in the Celtic times?

c)How did Druids celebrate the holiday?

d)How did the holiday appear in the United States?

e)How is it celebrated nowadays?

Halloween, the time of pumpkins, candies, ghosts, witches and much more, is annually celebrated on 31 October. Thats the night before All Saints Day. Its origins date back thousands of years to the Celtic festival of Samhaim or The Feast of the Sun, a most significant holiday of the Celtic year. This day marked the end of summer but also the season of darkness as well as the beginning of the New Year on 1 November.

Druids in Britain and Ireland would light bonfires, dance around them and offer sacrifices of animal and crops. The fires were also intended to give warmth to the households and to keep free from evil spirits. Through the ages these practices changed.

The Irish hollowed out turnips, placed a light inside to keep away the bad and stingy Jack. As the legend says, Jack was a man who tricked the devil and after Jack had died he was allowed neither in heaven nor in hell. With a lantern in his hand he began to search for a resting place on Earth. This was the original Jack-o-Lantern. Since Halloween came to America from Ireland (Scotland and Wales) people used pumpkins because they were bigger and easier to hollow out than turnips.

During the centuries the cultures have added their own elements to the way Halloween is celebrated.

Students and children love the custom of dressing-up in fancy costumes and going from door-to-door yelling Trick-or-Treat. Adults instead join spooky parties which are held nearly all over the cities and villages on that special evening. A spooky decoration, games and frightening food are nuts and bolts for a Halloween party your friends wont soon forget.


Ø 3) Among the suggested titles choose the most suitable for this text.





Ø 1) When did the holiday Valentines Day appear in our culture? What is the essence of this holiday? How is it celebrated?

Ø 2) Read the text and make a list of legends of the origin of Valentines Day.

Valentines Day is February 14th each year. On Valentines Day, people send cards and greetings to their friends and loved ones. Valentines Day is a time to tell how much you care about a person.

Lots of people send candy in heart-shaped boxes to people they love. Flowers are another gift that people send on Valentines Day. Valentine cards, with words that tell a person how you feel about them, are sent by many.

Do you know who gets the greatest number of Valentines Day cards each year? Can you guess? Is it mothers or fathers, sisters or brothers? Is it cousins or uncles and aunts? No, it isnt.

Mothers get a lot of cards, but school teachers get the most each year. If its true that teachers get the most valentines each year, can you guess who sends the most? Kids do. Kids send five times as many valentines as adults do.

There are various popular and interesting legends of St. Valentines Day. Some legends trace the origin of Valentines Day to pagan times while others link it to one or more Saints of early Christian Church. Yet another point of view on the origin of Valentines Day links it to the beginning of birds mating season. Popularity of the festival is perhaps due to the combined effect of all these legends along with the notion that spring is the time for love.
Here are some famous legends of Valentines Day:

Saint Valentine of Rome.According to one very popular legend, Valentine was a priest in Rome who lived during the reign of Emperor Claudius II. Under his regime, Claudius is said to have engaged Rome into several bloody battles. To strengthen his army, the Emperor continuously needed to recruit soldiers. However, Claudius found that not many soldiers were keen to join the army because of attachment with their wives and families. In order to sever the bond of attachment, Claudius cancelled all marriages and engagements in Rome. Valentine a romantic at heart priest, defied this callous decree of Claudius by secretly arranging marriages of young men and women. When Valentines defiance was discovered by the Emperor, he was brutally beaten up and put to death on February 14, about 270 AD.

For his martyrdom and dedication for the cause Valentine was named a Saint after his death. By the Middle Ages, Saint Valentine became popular as the patron Saint of love and lovers in England and France to the extent that Pope Gelasius declared February 14 as Valentines Day on 498 AD and put an end to pagan celebrations. Thus, Saint Valentines martyrdom day became an occasion to celebrate love.

Saint Valentine of Rome.Another famous legend on Saint Valentine states Valentine was an early Christian in Rome who was very popular amongst children. But during the time when Valentine lived, Roman regime was not in favour of Christianity and it even persecuted Christians to make Rome free of the followers of Christianity. In spite of this strict law, Valentine continued to practice his faith and refused to worship Roman Gods. This enraged Emperor Claudius II and he put Valentine into prison.

Valentine is said to have spent a year in rigorous imprisonment during which he was missed a lot by children. They began to toss loving notes and flowers between the bars of his cell window. To some extent, this legend may explain the tradition of exchanging notes and flowers on Valentines Day.

Some scholars believe that during his stay in prison Valentine made friends with a jailers blind daughter who at times brought to him notes and flowers from children. Whenever possible, Valentine also replied to the notes. Days before his execution, Valentine prayed for the jailers daughter and she regained her sight. Before his death, Valentine is also said to have written a farewell note for the jailers daughter and signed it From Your Valentine. This expression is popular even now.

Some scholars believe that Valentine was killed because he tried to help Christians escape from the Roman prison as they were being tortured and beaten. Yet another set of scholars say Emperor Claudius II was impressed by Valentines kindness and good behavior. He even stated that Valentine could be freed if he agreed to worship Roman Gods. Valentine not just refused, he even tried to convert Emperor to Christianity. This made Claudius very angry and he ordered his execution. Valentine was beheaded on February 14.

Birds Mating Time.During the Middle Ages, people in England and France held a popular belief that birds started to look for a mate from February 14. This popular notion further strengthened the idea that Valentines Day festival that falls in the middle of February should be celebrated as the day of love and romance. The concept soon gained ground amongst the lovers and they began to celebrate the day by exchanging love notes and simple gifts like flowers.

Ø 3) Find the following information:

a)where the time of origin of the legends about St. Valentine is mentioned,

b)how the tradition of exchanging cards, notes and flowers appeared,

c)who receives the greatest number of cards,

d)the kind of man Valentine was according to the legends.


3.9 St. Patricks Day

Ø 1) Skim the text and make a brief outline of it.

St. Patricks Day is celebrated by both nationalists and unionists. It is the feast day which annually celebrates Saint Patrick (386-493), the Patron Saint of Ireland, on March 17. It is a national holiday in the Republic of Ireland (but not in Northern Ireland, where it is a bank holiday), the overseas territory of Montserrat, and the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Saint Patricks Day is celebrated worldwide. The St. Patricks Day parade in Dublin, Ireland is part of a five day festival. The largest St. Patricks Day parade is held in New York City and watched by 2 million spectators.

As well as being a celebration of Irish culture, Saint Patricks Day is a Christian festival celebrated in the Catholic Church, the Church of Ireland (among other churches in the Anglican Communion) and some other denominations.

In many parts of North America, Britain, and Australia, expatriate Irish, those of Irish descent, and ever-growing crowds of people with no Irish connections but who may proclaim themselves Irish for a day also celebrate St. Patricks Day, usually by drinking alcoholic beverages (lager dyed green, Irish beer and stout, such as Murphys, Smethwicks, Harp or Guinness, or Irish whiskey, Irish Cider, Irish Coffee or Baileys Irish Cream).

Many Irish people still wear a bunch of shamrock on their lapels or caps on this day or green, white, and orange badges (after the colors of the Irish flag). Girls traditionally wear green in their hair.

With its improved international reputation, Ireland has recently witnessed rising numbers of tourists who come to appreciate the areas unique heritage. Attractions include cultural festivals, musical and artistic traditions, countryside and geographical sites of interest, pubs, welcoming hospitality and sports (especially golf and fishing).

Ø 2) What questions does the text deal with? Is the text information up-to-date or out-of-date?

3.10 Why do the British drive on the left?

Ø 1) How does driving in Britain differ from that in Europe?

Ø 2) Scan the text and name the paragraphs which give the following information:

a)when many countries changed from the left to the right when driving,

b)when driving on the left was general in Europe,

c)why soldiers carried the shield on the left,

d)the British law which had a keep left recommendation,

e)how a horse is mounted.

(1) Up to the late 18th century, driving on the left was general in Europe. So why should be all milestones and signs put to the right? In the late 50s people in Britain thought about changing to the right, like in Sweden. But they dismissed the thought, because of the costs (steering wheels in cars, signs etc.). And Britain is an island, so there was no need to change to the right. And the British kept a little of their splendid isolation.

(2) In Roman times the shield was carried with the left hand and the sword with the right. The soldiers marched on the left, so they could protect their body with their shield and they were able to fight with their right hand.

(3) A horse is mounted from the left. You swing the right leg over the horses back. To make it easier for smaller people to mount the horse, special stones (mounting stones) were provided. They were put on the left side of the roads.

(4) Battles are fought via the left wing, like in soccer. Napoleon fought his battles via the right wing. It made him successful as his enemies didnt expect this strategy. Napoleon ordered that people had to drive on the right. In countries where Napoleon did not invade, people still drove on the left. The drivers of old stagecoaches sat on the right. In 1967, the change from the left to the right side took place in Sweden, due to practical reasons. Iceland followed in 1968. The US after the War of Independence changed too, and so did Canada due to the French influence. Commonwealth countries and other ones, such as Japan, didnt change the way.

(5) One must point out that in those days logic dictated that when people passed each other on the roadthey should be in the best possible position to use their sword to protect them. As most people are right handed they therefore keep to their left. This practice was formalized in a Papal Edict by Pope Benedict around 1300AD who told all his pilgrims to keep to the left. Nothing much changed until 1773 when an increase in horse traffic forced the UK Government to introduce the General Highways Act of 1773 which contained a keep left recommendation. This became a law as part of the Highways Bill in 1835.


Ø 3) Use the Internet and find out about the history of the driving side in Russia.




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