A family friend, Annie Kidder, went to the publisher of the Potter series, asking them to pass a letter (and fax) on to J.K. Rowling, author of the books. Kidders’s request was a simple one: give this dying child a preview of the outcome of Goblet — yes, nearly a year before the rest of the world would be able to read it — as the Potter stories “had been [Natalie’s] respite from the hell of leukemia” and Natalie was, quite simply, not going to survive long enough to otherwise enjoy the story. Rowling was on vacation when the requests arrived and replied, via email to Natalie’s mother, on August 4, 1999, detailing the fate, as would be told in Goblet, of the main characters, eleven months early. Unfortunately, Natalie passed away the day prior.
Nevertheless, Natalie’s mother Valerie and Rowling began a friendship from that day forward. Rowling, for her part, honored Natalie’s memory in print — on page 159 (or 180, depending on the version) of Goblet of Fire, a young witch by the name of Natalie McDonald, new to Hogwarts, donned the Sorting Hat and became a member of the House of Gryffindor.
From the Archives: Miranda Piker and the Chocolate Factory: Another character — one you missed — from a noted piece of fiction.
Related: The complete Harry Potter book set, paperback, for $50. A bargain at three times the price.