J.K. Rowling, needless to say, is one of the most popular writers of the day. The Harry Potter Series, authored by her, was a phenomenon. This series had to face politics and debates from world over but it emerged as one of biggest successes in the modern-day literature. The Harry Potter Series reached the zenith of popularity and earned J.K. Rowling an international acclaim. Take a look at some interesting facts about J.K. Rowling.
Facts about J.K. Rowling
- Joanne "Jo" Rowling is a British writer who writes under the pen name J.K. Rowling. Besides the Potter novels, she is also famous for her "rags to riches" life story. Interestingly, her first Harry Potter book read her name as Joanne Rowling after which her publisher Bloomsbury requested her to use her initials rather than disclosing her first name. The publisher was afraid that young boys might not buy books written by a female author. She had no middle name and derived the letter ‘K’ from her paternal grandmother Kathleen. And this was how the name, ‘J.K. Rowling’ was born.Now let us look at the facts about the person bearing this name.
- Joanne was born on July 31, 1965 in Yate, Gloucestershire, England to Peter James Rowling and Anne Rowling. She had a two-year younger sister. Within a few years from her birth, the Rowlings shifted to a village called Winterbourne.
- During her childhood she was always interested in writing fantasy stories. She used to narrate stories to her younger sister. The first story written by her was that of a rabbit, which gets measles and has different friends visiting it.
- She was a student of St Michael’s Primary School. When she was 9, she shifted to Tutshill, a village near Chepstow, South Wales. During her early teens, her aunt gifted her an old copy of Jessica Mitford’s autobiography, ‘Hons and Rebels’. On reading this book, Joanne idealized Mitford and read all her books.
- She was a student of the secondary school at Wyedean School and College. After a BA in French and Classics at the University of Exeter, she went for a year of study to Paris. She then moved to London and worked as a researcher and a bilingual secretary for Amnesty International.
- How did ‘Harry Potter’ come to her? J.K. Rowling says that the idea of this story struck her while she was traveling in a train from Manchester to London in 1990. The idea of a boy attending a school of wizardry came to her mind during this train journey. On reaching her destination, she began writing.
- She claimed her headmaster at primary school to have been her inspiration behind the character, Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter. Hermione, another famous character of Harry Potter, was based on her own self. According to J.K. Rowling, Hermione resembles the way Joanne herself looked during her teen years. The character, Ron Weasley of Harry Potter bears a slight similarity with Joanne’s friend Sean Harris. The demise of her mother in the December of 1990 deeply impacted Joanne’s writings. It was then, that she introduced the details about Harry’s loss in her first book.
- Later, Rowling migrated to Porto, Portugal and served as an English teacher. In 1992, she married Jorge Arantes, a television journalist of Portugal. They had a girl child in July 1993 and in November of the same year they parted ways. Rowling, with her little daughter, Jessica, moved to Edinburgh, Scotland. J.K.Rowling was going through bad times, and this was when she mulled over suicide. During that time she was in depression. The thoughts of her illness gave rise to the idea of Dementors, the soulless creatures that became a part of ‘Harry Potter’.
- Circumstances were not kind to her. She was unemployed and living on the state benefits. She had to take care of her baby and also pursue writing and she was all-alone in this struggle. She had to take time out to write when she could put her baby to bed. To make her baby fall asleep, she used to take her out and sit in cafes, completing her novel. She completed her first novel in different cafes, especially Nicholson’s Cafe.
- Even after the completion of her first book, success did not come easy. Her work was rejected by many publishers till editor Barry Cunningham from Bloomsbury accepted her writings. It was actually, Cunningham’s eight-year-old daughter who was given the first chapter of Rowling’s book to read. On reading the first one, she demanded the next one, which led to Cunningham’s decision of publishing Rowling’s work. Sometimes, little things lead to huge successes. No one was very sure of the response that Rowling’s writings would get, but a success story had begun!
- After her first book in the Harry Potter series, ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’, Rowling received a grant from the Scottish Arts Council to enable her to continue writing. In 1997, the book won its first award, a Nestle Smarties Book Prize followed by the award for the Children’s Book of the Year and then the Children’s Book Award. In 1999, the book, ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’, won the Smarties Prize. J.K. Rowling was the first one making a hat trick of this award. ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’, released in 2000, made a record-breaking sale in UK and US. In the US, three million copies were sold during the first forty-eight hours, breaking all the sale records.
- After a gap of three years, her fifth book in the Harry Potter series, titled, ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ was released. Rowling had admitted to have become exhausted towards the completion of this book. ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ hit the market in 2005. It broke records and won the ‘Book of the Year Prize’. ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’, the seventh in the series became the most fast selling book after its release in 2007.
- The Sunday Times Rich List of 2008 has ranked J.K. Rowling as the 12th richest woman in Britain. According to the Forbes’ ranking, she is the 48th most powerful celebrity of 2007. She was a runner-up for the ‘Person of the Year’ title of 2007.
Today she supports many charities and serves as a social and political inspiration for many. She is one of the iconic figures in literature. Readers all around the world, mesmerized by her works, are looking forward for more from this brilliant authoress, J.K. Rowling.