Rowling Assures French: 'Voldemort' Not a Slight
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 3, 2009 4:01 PM CST
Rowling delivers a speech after she was awarded with the medal of Knight in the Legion of Honor.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – JK Rowling cleared up any fuss about her Harry Potter villain’s French name today, as she accepted that country’s Legion d’honneur for her contribution to the arts, Reuters reports. “I can assure you that the decision did not come from any anti-French sentiment,” Rowling said of naming the evil Voldemort, which means “flight of death” in the language. “I needed a name that evoked both power and exoticism.”

At the ceremony, where she received the award from Nicolas Sarkozy, Rowling also revealed her own French roots. Her great-grandfather was French and received the Legion for his service in World War I. “I like to think that he would be happy to know there is a second Legion d'honneur in the family,” the British author said, “and that the books written by his descendant have given some pleasure in his native country.”