Harry Potter Creator
“The spells are made up. I have met people who assure me, very seriously, that they are trying to do them, and I can assure them, just as seriously, that they don't work.” J.K. Rowling
British novelist J.K. Rowling is famous as the author of the popular series of books about a young wizard named Harry Potter, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" (1997), "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" (1998), "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" (1999), "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" (2000), "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" (2003), "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" (2005), and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" (2007). Almost all of the books have been made into high-grossing, award-winning feature-length films, making Rowling a multi-millionaire within five years.
“I would like to be remembered as someone who did the best she could with the talent she had.” J.K. Rowling
To date (2008), according to Forbes, Rowling is the “Best Selling Author in the History of Literature” and the first to become a billionaire from writing books. She is even richer than the Queen of England. Rowling was awarded the O.B.E. (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2000 Queen Elizabeth II's Birthday Honors List.
“I had an American journalist say to me, ‘Is it true you wrote the whole of the first novel on napkins?’ I was tempted to say, ‘On teabags, I used to save them.’” J.K. Rowling
This 5' 5" fiction writer has been married twice and has two daughters and one son.
“I have met thousands of children now and not even one time has a child come up to me and said, 'Ms. Rowling, I'm so glad I've read these books because now I want to be a witch.’” J.K. Rowling (responding to religious conservatives)
Childhood and Family:
In the outskirts of Bristol, in the West of England, Joanne Rowling, nicknamed “Jo” or “JKR,” was born on July 31, 1965, into a middle-class home. Her father, Peter James Rowling, was an engineer at a Rolls Royce plant in Bristol, and her part French, part Scottish mother, Anne Volant (died in 1990 from complications from multiple sclerosis at age 45), was a lab technician at Wyedean School. Rowling doesn't actually have a middle name and chose K for Kathleen as the second initial of her pseudonym, from her paternal grandmother.
"I was writing Harry Potter at the moment my mother died. I had never told her about Harry Potter." J.K. Rowling
Rowling attended St Michael's Primary School, Wyedean School and College, and the University of Exeter. In 2004, she received an honorary degree from Edinburgh University in recognition of the Potter books and her outstanding contribution to children’s literature. She also received an honorary degree from Harvard University in 2008.
"Hermione is loosely based on me. She's a caricature of me when I was eleven, which I'm not particularly proud of." J.K. Rowling
While working as a teacher in Portugal, Rowling met struggling Portuguese television journalist Jorge Arantes, whom she married on October 16, 1992. The marriage produced one daughter, Jessica Rowling Arantes (born on July 27, 1993), but ended in divorce on November 30, 1993. Rowling remarried on December 26, 2001, to British anesthetist Neil Michael Murray, who is six years her junior. Together they have two children, son David Gordon Rowling Murray (born on March 24, 2003) and daughter Mackenzie Jean Rowling Murray (born on January 23, 2005).
Rowling owns two properties in Scotland, one in south-west Edinburgh and another, a 19th century estate house, in Perth and Kinross. She also owns an $8 million home in West London. In 2003, she hired a former SAS officer as her bodyguard to patrol her Perth home and protect her family.
Rowling was awarded the O.B.E. (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2000 Queen Elizabeth II's Birthday Honors List for her services to literature and received it from one of her fans, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales.
Daydreamer Turned Author
"Certainly the first story I ever wrote down (when I was five or six) was about a rabbit called Rabbit. He got the measles and was visited by his friends, including a giant bee called Miss Bee." J.K. Rowling
Having been a bit of a daydreamer as a child, J.K. Rowling began writing stories at the age of six, but later went to work as a researcher and bilingual secretary for Amnesty International and then for the Chamber of Commerce in Manchester after graduating from Exeter University. She also worked as an English teacher in Portugal.
"One weekend after flat hunting, I took the train back to London on my own and the idea for Harry Potter fell into my head... A scrawny, little, black-haired, bespectacled boy became more and more of a wizard to me. I began to write 'Philosopher's Stone' that very evening although the first couple of pages look nothing like the finished product." J.K. Rowling
In 1990, while being stuck on a delayed, crowded train for four hours between Manchester and London, Rowling though of the idea for a story of a young boy named Harry attending a school of wizardry. She spent the next six years writing “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” while struggling to support Jessica and herself on welfare. She once claimed that her first audience for Harry Potter was her daughter, to whom she would read parts of the story that she wrote as a bedtime story.
After spending six years writing the first installment of her “Harry Potter” novels, Rowling, with finished manuscript in hand, began searching for an agent to represent her work and was rejected by nine publishers before London's Bloomsbury Publishing signed her on. When the first “Harry Potter” novel was published, the publisher asked her to use initials rather than her first name, because boys would be biased against a book written by a woman. Since she only had one given name, they asked her to make up another initial and took K from her favorite grandmother, Kathleen. The publishing representative also told her to get a day job because he thought she would not make any money selling children's books.
Published on June 30, 1997, with an initial print-run of only 1000 copies and 500 hundred of which were distributed to libraries, the book was a great critical success. It won its first award, a Nestlé Smarties Book Prize, in November 1997. In February the following year, it won the prestigious British Book Award for Children’s Book of the Year and later the Children’s Book Award.
In 1997, an auction was held in the U.S. for the rights to publish the novel and was won by Scholastic Inc., who paid Rowling more than $100,000. In October 1998, Scholastic published “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” in the U.S. under the title of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” It became an unprecedented smash hit, selling over five million copies by 2001 and resulting in the Harry Potter fandom Pottermania.
Warner Bros. purchased the film rights in 1998 and a film based on the book was released in 2001. It was directed by Columbus with the virtually unknown Daniel Radcliffe portraying the title character. The film became the highest grossing film ever in the U.K. It went on to earn $976.5 million at the worldwide box office, making it the second highest grossing film in history at the time.
Meanwhile, on July 2, 1998, Rowling's second "Harry Potter" book, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," was published. A film adaptation of the award winning book was released in 2002 and was very well received at the box office, making $879 million worldwide. The film was nominated for three BAFTA Film Awards in 2003.
"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," the third novel in the "Harry Potter" series, was published on July 8, 1999. Besides winning the 1999 Costa Book Awards and the Bram Stoker Award, the novel was nominated for other awards and placed among the most-honored works of fantasy in recent history. A film based on the book, directed by Alfonso Cuarón, was released in 2004. The film was nominated for two Oscars, one for Original Music Score and one for Visual Effects, at the 77th Academy Awards held in 2005.
July 8, 2000, saw the release of the fourth novel in the "Harry Potter" series, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." The novel won a Hugo Award in 2000 and was made into a film in 2005. Directed by Mike Newell, the film enjoyed an immensely successful run at the box office, earning over $896 million worldwide, making it the highest grossing film of 2005 and the 8th-highest grossing film of all time. It was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Art Direction.
The fifth novel in the "Harry Potter" series, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," the longest book in the series, was released on June 21, 2003. It was made into a film, which was released in 2007 and directed by David Yates. The critically and commercially successful film became the seventh-highest grossing film of all time.
After penning "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find" a book written to benefit the British charity Comic Relief in 2001, Rowling continued to write the sixth book of the "Harry Potter" series, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," which was published on July 16, 2005, and sold nine million copies in the first 24 hours after its release. A movie based on the book was originally scheduled to be released on November 21, 2008, but was pushed back to July 17, 2009. The screenplay was written by Steve Kloves with David Yates returning as the director.
The seventh and final of the "Harry Potter" novels, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," was released on July 21, 2007. Released globally in ninety-three countries, the book, which has also been translated into numerous languages, broke sales records as the fastest-selling book ever, selling more than 11 million copies in the first twenty-four hours following its release.
"I've never felt such a mixture of extreme emotions in my life, never dreamed I could feel simultaneously heartbroken and euphoric. 'Deathly Hallows' is my favorite and that is the most wonderful way to finish the series." J.K. Rowling
A two-part film adaptation of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" is on the way with David Yates directing both parts. Part I is slated for release on November 19, 2010, and Part II in May 2011.
“People ask me if there are going to be stories of Harry Potter as an adult. Frankly, if I wanted to, I could keep writing stories until Harry is a senior citizen, but I don't know how many people would actually want to read about a 65 year old Harry still at Hogwarts playing bingo with Ron and Hermione.” J.K. Rowling
British Independent Film: Entertainment Personality Award, 2004
Officer of the Order of the British Empire, 2000