J. K. Rowling

by poonam bisht

Introduction J K Rowling’s name is synonym with Harry Potter, a widely acclaimed children’s book series. She is a writer whose imagination goes beyond those of her contemporary writers, who…

J K Rowling


J K Rowling’s name is synonym with Harry Potter, a widely acclaimed children’s book series. She is a writer whose imagination goes beyond those of her contemporary writers, who never once hesitated to take a plunge into exploring something unnatural, and who despite her unusual story character and storyline managed to hook a surprisingly colossal number of readers of all ages. Her life story is another story of a woman who turned from “rags to riches” in a span of five years. Through her Harry Potter book series, she cemented a long-lasting bond with children from various corners of the world.

Today, she is a household name, a possessor of innumerable awards and recognitions, and an influential woman of British origin. Thanks to her immense passion for writing and storytelling, we have with us a series, which is a complete entertainment package and which fails to bore a reader even if read for umpteen number of times.

Early Life

Born on 31 July 1965, Joanne Rowling as she was named, was a gifted child. She was endowed with the power of storytelling and story writing from a young age of five. Her father was Peter James Rowling who was an aircraft engineer, and mother was Anne Rowling. Rowling was born in Gloucestershire in England. After two years, she was joined by her younger sister, Dianne. The family shifted to Winterbourne village when Rowling was just four years old.

In order to keep her younger sister entertained she used to make up stories and narrate it to her. Thus, her introduction to the world of storytelling began at a young age and she started writing fantasy stories. She recollects from her childhood days, “I can still remember me telling her a story in which she fell down a rabbit hole and was fed strawberries by the rabbit family inside it. Certainly the first story I ever wrote (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. And ever since Rabbit and Miss Bee, I have wanted to be a writer, though I rarely told anyone so. I was afraid they’d tell me I didn’t have a hope.”

She chose to be known as J K Rowling to the world, owing to the beliefs that audience will not want to read a novel written by a female writer. Hence, after adopting a middle name with the initial ‘K’ she came to be known as J K Rowling.


Rowling studied at St. Michael’s Primary School at Winterbourne village. William Wilberforce, an abolitionist and Hannah More, an education reformer, founded the school. She claims that the character Albus Dumbledore, head teacher from Harry Potter was modeled after her first headmaster of this school Alfred Dunn.

After the family shifted base to the village of Tutshill, near Chepstow, Rowling attended Wyedean School and College for completing her secondary school. Her love for writing was further fostered by her aunt when she presented her with a copy of Jessica Mitford’s biography to read. She cherished the idea of becoming a writer from a young age. In the year 1982, she sat for an entrance test for Oxford University but was not selected. She went ahead to study in the University of Exeter, and took up B.A. in French and Classics. Of her days at Exeter, a professor of French recalled her to be “a quietly competent student, with a denim jacket and dark hair, who, in academic terms, gave the appearance of doing what was necessary.”

Rowling completed her graduation in the year 1986, and then shifted to London. She started working for Amnesty International as a researcher and bilingual secretary.

How Harry Potter came into existence?

In the year 1990, when she was on a delayed train trip from Manchester to London, the bits and pieces of Harry Potter’s world gushed into her mind. She states, “I really don’t know where the idea came from. It started with Harry, then all these characters and situations came flooding into my head.” Unfortunately she did not have a pen to pen down her ideas but as soon as she reached her Clapham Junction flat she started writing down. She says, “I began to write Philosopher’s Stone that very evening, although those first few pages bear no resemblance to anything in the finished book.”

Rowling’s mother passed away in December that year, and that made a huge impact on her writing. The essence of her loss was elaborately discussed in the first book of Harry Potter.

Personal Life

Rowling’s next stop was at Portugal in 1991, where she started teaching English at a language institute. She used to teach at night and write during the daytime. It was in Portugal that she got introduced to a Portuguese journalist, and having found a common interest in Jane Austen the duo became friendly. The friendship culminated in a marriage on 16 October 1992, and on 27 July 1993, their first child Jessica Isabel Rowling Arantes was born.

However, the couple separated 13 months and one day after their marriage. Though the exact reason is unknown, biographers have stated domestic violence as the reason. She shifted to Edinburgh, Scotland in December 1993, with her daughter and three completed chapters of Harry Potter. During those days she considered herself to be the biggest failure. Yet, she had the spirit to fight on, to live for her daughter and to finish the one great task she had just started.

She was also diagnosed with clinical depression and even thought of attempting suicide. She had no job in hand and to get a teaching job in Scotland, one needed to hold a postgraduate certification of education (PGCE). It was a yearlong course and hence, Rowling decided to pursue the course only after completing the first book of Harry Potter. She used to work on her book in local cafes while her daughter used to be asleep in a stroller beside her. She had signed up for welfare benefits and that allowed her to survive. Rowling filed for a divorce on August 1994 and after forwarding the first three chapters to agents she began her training course for PGCE at Moray House School of Education, at Edingurgh University. Thanks to her second agent she could publish her book under Bloomsbury Children’s Books publishers and under the title name Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in June 1997.

After the success of her book Harry Potter, Rowling married a second time to an anesthetist, Neil Michael Murray on 26 December 2001. The couple had a son on 24 March 2003, and they named him David Gordon Rowling Murray. They also had a daughter Mackenzie Jean Rowling Murray who was born on 23 January 2005.

Harry Potter and Her Subsequent Success Story

Soon after the publication of her first book on Harry Potter, there was no looking back for Rowling. Her book went on to garner innumerable awards, the likes of which included the Nestle Smartles Book Prize, the Bristish Book Award and the Children’s Book Award. The Scottish Arts Council gave her £8000 grant and that allowed her to continue writing.

When an auction was held in early 1998, Scholastic Press won the American rights to the book for $105,000. They publish the book in October 1998, under a changed title, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. With the money she earned she shifted to Edinburgh.

Rowling went on to publish Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in July 1998 and on December 1999 she published the third novel, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Both the books won the Smarties Prize making her the first person to win the award three consecutive years. Prisoner of Azkaban bought home the Whitbread Children’s Book of the Year award. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, her fourth book in the series, broke sales records in UK and USA. 372, 775 copies were reported to have been sold in UK in the first day itself, and in the USA three million copies were sold in the first 48 hours. The book earned her the ‘Author of the Year’ title in 2000 British Book Awards. After a span of three years, she published the fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The sixth and the seventh version of the book were released on 16 July 2005 and 21 December 2006, respectively. Both the books went on to break several sales records. While the sixth book sold nine million copies in the first 24 hours, the seventh book sold 11 million copies in UK and USA in the first day itself.

Regarding a possible eighth book on Harry Potter she stated, “I can’t say I’ll never write another book about that world just because I think, what do I know, in ten years’ time I might want to return to it but I think it’s unlikely.”

So far, Harry Potter novels have sold above 450 million copies worldwide and have been translated into 72 languages.

Other Works

J K Rowling’s writing was not just limited to writing the Harry Potter series or writing children’s book. She wrote a novel for adults, titled The Casual Vacancy, which was published in the year 2012 and translated into 44 languages. She also wrote The Cuckoo’s Calling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, her first attempt at crime fiction. It was published in the year 2013 and was translated into 37 languages. She also worked on a screenplay titled Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them, which she claims is an original story at the backdrop of the world of wizardry. Her other books for children includes, Quidditch Through the Ages, The Tales of Beedle the Bard. She has a number of unfinished projects in her kitty both for children and for adults, which are all slated to release in the coming years.

Harry Potter Films

As Rowling’s book started to gain prominence, Warner Bros. approached Rowling to purchase the film rights of the first two novels. So in October 1998, Rowling sold the film rights for a seven-figure sum. She became a millionaire overnight and subsequently she went on to sell the films right for her other book in the series too.

Awards and Recognition

She became the first person to become a billionaire (in dollars) just by writing books, ranked 1,062 in the list of the richest persons in the world, and was regarded the second-richest female entertainer by Forbes in the year 2004. The Sunday Times Rich List ranked her the 144th richest person in Britain in 2008. She was accredited for being the 13th most powerful woman by Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio in the United Kingdom.

St. Andrews University, Edinburgh Napier University, University of Aberdeen, University of Exeter, University of Edinburgh conferred on her honorary degrees. She won several prestigious awards for her Harry Potter books, some of which includes; Nestle Smarties Book Prize, National Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year, British Book Awards, Whitbread Children’s Book of the Year, British Children’s Book of the Year, Hugu Award for Best Novel, Locus Award, Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award, British Academy Film Awards to name a few. She was the first person to have won the British Book Awards Author of the year.

Philanthropic Efforts

In Rowlings words “I think you have a moral responsibility when you’ve been given far more than you need, to do wise things with it and give intelligently.” With this belief, she created the Volant Charitable Trust in 2000. With an annual budget of £5.1 million, the organization aims at resolving issues pertaining to social inequality and poverty. It also looks into issues concerning single parenthood, child welfare, and research and treatment of multiple sclerosis.

J K Rowling: Facts and Information

Full Name Joanne Rowling
Born 07/31/65
Place of Birth Yate, England
Nationality British
Residence Edinburgh, Scotland
Profession Writer
Father Peter James Rowling
Mother Anne Rowling
Relationships Jorge Arantes (1992–95)
Neil Murray (2001–present)
Children Two Daughters:

Jessica Isabel Rowling Arantes, born 27 July 1993 and Mackenzie Jean Rowling Murray, born 23 January 2005.

One Son :

David Gordon Rowling Murray, born 24 March 2003.

Teenage From a young age Rowling had a deep interest in story writing and storytelling and she would often relate her stories to her sister to keep her entertained.
Schooling St. Michael’s Primary School, Wyedean School and College
Education University of Exeter, B.A. in French and Classics
Philanthropic Activities Established the Volant Charitable Trust in 2000
Awards and Recognition
  • Honorary Degrees :St. Andrews University, Edinburgh Napier University, University of Aberdeen, University of Exeter, University of Edinburgh.
  • Recipients of: Nestlé Smarties Book Prize (1997, 1998, 1999)
  • British Children’s Book of the Year (1998)
  • National Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year (1999)
  • Whitbread Children’s Book of the Year (1999)
  • British Book Awards (2000)
  • Order of the British Empire (2000)
  • Locus Award (2000)
  • Hugo Award for Best Novel (2001)
  • Bram Stoker Award for Best Work for Young Readers: 2003
  • British Book of the Year (2006)
  • Blue Peter Badge (2007)
  • British Book Awards, Outstanding Achievement (2008)
  • Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award (2010)
  • British Academy Film Awards (2011)
Books Authored The Harry Potter Series:
    • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (26 June 1997)
    • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2 July 1998)
    • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (8 July 1999)
    • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (8 July 2000)
    • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (21 June 2003)
    • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (16 July 2005)
    • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (21 July 2007)

Other Books:

  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (1 March 2001)
  • Quidditch Through the Ages (1 March 2001)
  • The Tales of Beedle the Bard (4 December 2008)
  • The Casual Vacancy (27 September 2012)
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling (18 April 2013)

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