"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live." -- J. K. Rowling
Joanne "Jo" Rowling, OBE (born 31 July 1965; married name Murray), better known under the pen name J. K. Rowling (, ), is a British author best known as the creator of the Harry Potter fantasy series, the idea for which was conceived whilst on a train trip from Manchester to London in 1990. The Potter books have gained worldwide attention, won multiple awards, sold more than 400 million copies and been the basis for a popular series of films, in which Rowling had creative control serving as a producer in two of the seven instalments.
Rowling is perhaps equally famous for her "rags to riches" life story, in which she progressed from living on welfare to multi-millionaire status within five years. As of March 2010, when its latest world billionaires list was published, Forbes estimated Rowling's net worth to be $1 billion. The 2008 Sunday Times Rich List estimated Rowling's fortune at £560 million ($798 million), ranking her as the twelfth richest woman in Great Britain. Forbes ranked Rowling as the forty-eighth most powerful celebrity of 2007, and Time magazine named her as a runner-up for its 2007 Person of the Year, noting the social, moral, and political inspiration she has given her fandom. In October 2010, J. K. Rowling was named 'Most Influential Woman in Britain' by leading magazine editors. She has become a notable philanthropist, supporting such charities as Comic Relief, One Parent Families, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain, and the Children's High Level Group.
"Anything's possible if you've got enough nerve.""Death is just life's next big adventure.""Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.""Hearing voices no one else can hear isn't a good sign, even in the wizarding world.""His priority did not seem to be to teach them what he knew, but rather to impress upon them that nothing, not even... knowledge, was foolproof.""Humans have a knack for choosing precisely the things that are worst for them.""I really don't believe in magic.""I will carry on writing, to be sure. But I don't know if I would want to publish again after Harry Potter.""If you want to see the true measure of a man, watch how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.""If you're holding out for universal popularity, I'm afraid you will be in this cabin for a very long time.""Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.""It is our choices... that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.""It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.""Jane Austen is the pinnacle to which all other authors aspire.""Never be ashamed! There's some who'll hold it against you, but they're not worth bothering with.""Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain.""The best of us must sometimes eat our words.""The truth. It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and must therefore be treated with great caution.""There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other.""There is no good or evil: only power and those too weak to seak it.""To the philosopher, death is but the next great adventure.""To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.""What's coming will come and we'll just have to meet it when it does.""You sort of start thinking anything's possible if you've got enough nerve.""Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young."
Although she writes under the pen name "J. K. Rowling", pronounced similarly to "rolling" (), her name when her first Harry Potter book was published was simply "Joanne Rowling". Her publisher Bloomsbury feared that the target audience of young boys might be reluctant to buy books written by a female author, and requested that she use two initials, rather than reveal her first name. As she had no middle name, she chose K as the second initial of her pseudonym, from her paternal grandmother Kathleen Ada Bulgen Rowling; it has never been part of her legal name. She calls herself "Jo" and said, "No one ever called me 'Joanne' when I was young, unless they were angry." Following her marriage, she has used the name Joanne Murray when conducting personal business.
Rowling was born to Peter James Rowling and Anne Rowling (née Volant), on 31 July 1965 in Yate, Gloucestershire, England, northeast of Bristol. Her sister Dianne (Di) was born at their home on 28 June 1967 when Rowling was 23 months old. The family moved to the nearby village Winterbourne when Rowling was four. She attended St Michael's Primary School, a school founded by abolitionist William Wilberforce and education reformer Hannah More. Her headmaster at St Michael's, Alfred Dunn, has been suggested as the inspiration for the Harry Potter headmaster Albus Dumbledore.
As a child, Rowling often wrote fantasy stories, which she would usually then read to her sister. She recalls that "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 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." At the age of nine, Rowling moved to the Gloucestershire village of Tutshill, close to Chepstow, Wales. When she was a young teenager, her great aunt, who Rowling said "taught classics and approved of a thirst for knowledge, even of a questionable kind", gave her a very old copy of Jessica Mitford's autobiography, Hons and Rebels. Mitford became Rowling's heroine, and Rowling subsequently read all of her books.
She attended secondary school at Wyedean School and College, where her mother, Anne, had worked as a technician in the Science Department. Rowling has said of her adolescence, "Hermione [A bookish, know-it-all Harry Potter character] is loosely based on me. She's a caricature of me when I was eleven, which I'm not particularly proud of."Sean Harris, her best friend in the Upper Sixth owned a turquoise Ford Anglia, which she says inspired the one in her books. "Ron Weasley [Harry Potter's best friend] isn't a living portrait of Sean, but he really is very Sean-ish." Of her musical tastes of the time, she said "My favourite group in the world is The Smiths. And when I was going through a punky phase, it was The Clash." Rowling read for a BA in French and Classics at the University of Exeter, which she says was a "bit of a shock" as she "was expecting to be amongst lots of similar people— thinking radical thoughts." Once she made friends with "some like-minded people" she says she began to enjoy herself. After a year of study in Paris, Rowling moved to London to work as a researcher and bilingual secretary for Amnesty International.
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. She told The Boston Globe that "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." When she had reached her Clapham Junction flat, she began to write immediately.
However, in December of that year, Rowling’s mother died, after her ten-year battle with multiple sclerosis. Rowling commented, "I was writing Harry Potter at the moment my mother died. I had never told her about Harry Potter."Rowling said this death heavily affected her writing and that she introduced much more detail about Harry's loss in the first book, because she knew about how it felt.
Rowling then moved to Porto, Portugal to teach English as a foreign language. While there, on 16 October 1992, she married Portuguese television journalist Jorge Arantes. Their child, Jessica Isabel Rowling Arantes (named after Jessica Mitford), was born on 27 July 1993 in Portugal. They separated in November 1993. In December 1993, Rowling and her daughter moved to be near her sister in Edinburgh, Scotland. During this period Rowling was diagnosed with clinical depression, and contemplated suicide. It was the feeling of her illness which brought her the idea of Dementors, soul-sucking creatures introduced in the third book.
After Jessica's birth and the separation from her husband, Rowling had left her teaching job in Portugal. In order to teach in Scotland she would need a postgraduate certificate of education (PGCE), requiring a full-time, year-long course of study. She began this course in August 1995, after completing her first novel while having survived on state welfare support. She wrote in many cafés, especially Nicolson's Café, whenever she could get Jessica to fall asleep. In a 2001 BBC interview, Rowling denied the rumour that she wrote in local cafés to escape from her unheated flat, remarking, "I am not stupid enough to rent an unheated flat in Edinburgh in midwinter. It had heating."Instead, as she stated on the American TV programme A&E Biography, one of the reasons she wrote in cafés was because taking her baby out for a walk was the best way to make her fall asleep.
In 1995, Rowling finished her manuscript for Harry Potter and the Stone with an initial print-run of 1000 copies, five hundred of which were distributed to libraries. Today, such copies are valued between £16,000 and £25,000. Five months later, the book won its first award, a [[Nestlé Smarties Book Prize. In February, the novel won the prestigious British Book Award for Children’s Book of the Year, and later, the Children’s Book Award. Its sequel, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, was published in July, 1998. In October 1998, Scholastic published Philosopher’s