Joanne Kathleen Rowling (1965 - ):
J.K. Rowling is the author of the most widely sold book series in all of history. Her fantasy novels are about the story of a boy, Harry Potter. He is an English orphan who is given admission to a school of magic, exclusively for wizards and witches. Rowling’s Harry Potter series takes us into the world of magic as Harry and his friends fight the source of evil in their world, Lord Voldemort.
Rowling’s books sold over 500 million copies and were turned into a movie series for which she was a producer. Her books helped millions of children across the world hold on to the joy of reading. Just as they were being exposed to television and computers, Rowling’s books gave them something that would keep them engaged.
J.K. Rowling, was born Joanna Rowling in the United Kingdom. At a young age, she would write fantasy tales and read them to her sister. Unfortunately, most of her childhood was an unhappy one. She had a difficult relationship with her father, Her mother had multiple sclerosis, a disease of the brain and spinal cord.
After graduating from the University of Exeter, Rowling began working as a researcher for Amnesty International. This required her to take long train journeys. It was during one of these trips that the idea of Harry Potter was born. The railway plays a major role in her first book. Rowling moved to Portugal to take up a job opportunity and continued to write during her free time.
Unfortunately, she and her husband separated and Rowling moved to Scotland to be near her family. This was a particularly hard time for her as she was without a job, without a companion and no money. Rowling channeled this sadness into her book, in particular the soul-sucking creatures known as the dementors who suck the happiness out of everything they touch. For the next two years, Rowling continued working on her novel in cafes around Scotland.
By 1995, Rowling had finished her manuscript for the first novel and she needed to get it published. Twelve publishers rejected her manuscript until it was accepted by the publishing house Bloomsbury. The chairman of Bloomsbury had given the first chapter to his eight-year-old daughter to review. She loved it and demanded the next. Five months later, her book had won its first award. She published a sequel each year for the next four years. The fifth book took three years to write, the sixth took two years and the final book took one year. During this time, Harry Potter became the fastest-selling book in history and a brand worth 15 billion dollars.
Rowling became the first author in history to become a billionaire by writing books. This was for a only short time because she donated much of that money to charity. Her charitable work has been in the areas of fighting poverty, children’s welfare, and multiple sclerosis research. She has donated over 150 million pounds to charity till now.
Rowling’s life has been a rollercoaster. During her days in Scotland, while living on welfare, Rowling was at her lowest point. She struggled with depression and loneliness. Yet, her dedication did not waver. She channeled her emotions into her work and created one of the greatest pieces of children’s literature the world has ever seen. Her books have touched the lives of children across the world and her charitable work continues to help the less fortunate. Without a doubt, J.K. Rowling is one of the greatest authors of the 21st century.
Born: 31 July 1965, Gloucestershire, England
Education: University of Exter (1982–1986)
Major contribution: Harry Potter series – the most widely sold book series in all of history
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