FAMOUS WOMEN AUTHOR SERIES: JOANNE ROWLING
Updated: May 12
WHO IS JOANNE ROWLING?
THE STORY ABOUT J K ROWLING?
As we introduce our next author, we could ask the following questions:
Is J K Rowling your favorite author? Or: Is J K Rowling the worlds famous author of all time? Or: What makes her work so popular?
Joanne Rowling was born July 31, 1965, better known by her pen name of J K Rowling is a British author, film producer, screenwriter, and philanthropist. She is best known for writing the Harry Potter fantasy series, which has won multiple awards and sold more than 500 million copies, becoming the best-selling series in history. She also writes crime fiction under the pen name of Robert Gailbraith.
Born in Yate, Gloucestershire, Rowling was working as a researcher and bilingual secretary for Amnesty International when she conceived the idea for the Harry Potter series while on a delayed train from Manchester to London in 1990. The seven year period that followed saw the death of her mother, birth of her first child, divorce from her first husband and relative poverty until the first novel in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was published in 1997. There were six sequels of which the last, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was released in 2007. Since then, Rowling has written five books for adult readers: The Casual Vacancy (2012) and under the pseudonym Robert Gailbraith – the crime fiction Cormoran Strike series, which consists of The Cuckoo”s Calling (2013) The Silkworm (2014), Career of Evil (2015), and Lethal White 2018.
Rowling has lived a “rags to riches” life in which she progressed from living on benefits (welfare) to being the world’s billionaire author. She lost her billionaire status after giving away much of her earnings to charity but remains one of the wealthiest people in the world. She has supported multiple charities, including Comic Relief, One Parent Families, and Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain, as well as launching her own charity, Lumos.
WHY J K ROWLING?
Although she writes under the pen name J.K. Rowling, her name, before her remarriage was Joanne Rowling. Anticipating that the target audience of young boys might not want to read a book written by a woman, her publishers asked that she use two initials rather than her full name. As she had no middle name, she chose K (for Kathleen) as the second initial of her pen name, from her paternal grandmother. She calls herself Jo. Following her remarriage, she has sometimes used the name of Joanne Murray when conducting personal business.
Rowling’s sister Dianne was born at their home when Rowling was 23 months old. As a child, Rowling often wrote fantasy stories which she frequently read to her sister. When she was a young teenager, her great aunt gave her a copy of Jessica Mitford’s autobiography, Hons and Rebels. Mitford became Rowling’s heroine, and Rowling read all of her books.
Rowling has said that her teenage years were unhappy. Her home life was complicated by her mother’s diagnosis with multiple sclerosis and a strained relationship with her father, whom she is not on speaking terms. Rowling later said that she based the character of Hermoine Granger on herself when she was eleven.
In 1982, Rowling took the entrance exams for Oxford University but was not accepted and earned a BA in French and classics at the University of Exeter. Her French professor remembers “a quietly competent student with a demin jacket and dark hair, who, in academic terms, gave the appearance of doing what was necessary. Rowling remembers doing little work, preferring to read Dickens and Tolkien. After a year of study in Paris, Rowling graduated from Exeter in 1986. In 1988, Rowling wrote a short essay about her time studying Classics titled “What was the Name of that Nymph Again? Or Greek and Roman Studies Recalled”; it was published by the University of Exeter’s journal Pegasus.
INSPIRATION AND MOTHER’S DEATH
After working as a researcher and bilingual secretary in London for Amnesty International, moved with her then boyfriend to Manchester, where she worked at the Chamber of Commerce. In 1990, while she was on a four-hour-delayed train trip from Manchester to London, the idea for a story of a young boy attending a school of wizardry “came fully formed” into her mind.
When she reached her Clapham Junction flat, she began to write immediately. In December, Rowling’s mother, Anne died after ten years suffering with multiple sclerosis. Rowling was writing Harry Potter at the time and had never told her mother about it. Her mother’s death heavily affected Rowling’s writing, and she channeled her own feelings of loss by writing about Harry’s own feelings of loss in greater detailed in the first book.
THE REST OF THE STORY
Seven years after graduating from the University of Exeter Rowling saw herself as a failure. She had gone to Portugal to teach English as a foreign language where she taught at night and began writing in the daytime while listening to music by Tchaikovsky. She met a Portuguese television journalist Jorge Arantes at a bar and discovered they both shared an interest in Jane Austen. They married in 1992 and their child, Jessica Isabel Rowling Arentes was born in 1993. The couple separated later in 1993 after suffering domestic abuse during the marriage. In December of 1993 Rowling and the baby moved to Edinburgh Scotland to be near Rowling’s sister. She also had three chapters of what would become Harry Potter in her suitcase.
She described her present state of failure as liberating, allowing her to focus on her writing. During this time Rowling was diagnosed with clinical depression and attempted suicide. Her illness inspired the characters known as Dementors, soul-sucking creatures introduced in her third book. Rowling signed up for welfare benefits, describing her economic status as being “poor as it is possible in modern Britain, without being homeless”.
SOME INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THE PUBLISHING PROCESS
In 1995, Rowling finished her manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone which was typed on an old manual typewriter. A literary agent from a well known literacy agency helped to help look for a publisher. The book was submitted to twelve publishing houses, all of which rejected the manuscript. A year later, Rowling was offered a cash advance from London publisher Bloomsbury. Coincidently, the eight year old daughter of the editor reviewed the first chapter and wanted more. Even though Bloomsbury agreed to publish the book, the editor advised Rowling to get a day job, since she had little chance of making money in children’s books. After being published in the U K an auction was held in the United States for the rights to publish the novel, and was won by Scholastic, Inc. for US$105,000. Rowling said she “nearly died” when she heard the news.
WHAT AN INCREDIBLE PUBLISHING STORY!
All seven of her novels are best sellers with all of them setting publishing records, for example, in 2007 when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released it broke it’s predecessor’s record as the fastest selling book of all time! It sold 11 million copies in the first day of release in the United Kingdom and United States.
Harry Potter is now a global brand worth an estimated US$15billion, the last four Harry Potter books have consistently set records as the fastest selling books in history. The series has been translated into 65 languages.
THEN COME THE HARRY POTTER FILMS
In October 1998, Warner Bros. purchased the films to the first two novels for a seven figure sum.
Warner Bros. has made allowances for Rowling’s desires when drafting her contract. Her stipulations were that the films be shot in Britain with an all British cast. She also demanded that Coca-Cola, a sponsor, donate US$18 million to the American organization READING IS FUNDAMENTAL, as well as several community charity programs.
She has also gained some creative control over the films, reviewing all the scripts, as well as acting as a producer on the final installment of Deathly Hallows.
In 2004, Forbes named Rowling as the first person to become a US dollar billionaire by writing books, the second richest female entertainer and the 1,062 richest person in the world. Rowling disputed the calculations and said she had plenty of money but was not a billionaire.
A HAPPY ENDING
On December 26, 2001, Rowling married Neil Murray, a Scottish doctor. They have had a son, David Gordon Rowling Murray, born in March of 2003, and a daughter, Mackenzie Jean Rowling Murray, born in January of 2005. As June 2014, the family resides in Scotland.
(This information was retrieved from “https:en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=J._K._Rowling&oldid=934842266”)
(I would like to thank Wikipedia for the wonderful source of information)
We have five grandchildren ranging in age of almost 20, 11, 5, 3, they all, whether girls or boys have been raised with either Harry Potter books, movies, wands, Lego toys, or whatever it may be. Thank you, J. K. Rowling for such great works!
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE J. K. ROWLING BOOK OR MOVIE?
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