Almost everybody heard about the Harry Potter books series, but almost no one heard the incredible zero to hero story of the author, J.K. Rowling. I personally haven't finished any of the books and actually fell asleep in the middle of the movie, but found the story behind the story more compelling and inspiring. I highly recommend you read the fascinating account of her life and watch the video below.
JK Rowling Biography
J.K. Rowling is a British author, philanthropist, and film producer. She is best known for writing the Harry Potter series of books, which have sold more than 500 million copies worldwide and been adapted into a popular film franchise.
Rowling was born on July 31, 1965 in Yate, England, and grew up in the nearby town of Bristol. She attended Exeter University, where she studied French and Classics. After graduation, she worked as a researcher and bilingual secretary for Amnesty International.
In 1995, Rowling's first book, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" was published under the name J.K. Rowling (using her grandmother's name, "Kathleen"). The book was an immediate success, and the series went on to include seven more books, concluding with "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" in 2007.
Rowling is also known for her philanthropy, particularly her support of multiple sclerosis research and multiple charitable causes through her charity, Volant Charitable Trust.
In 2012, Rowling published her first novel for adults, "The Casual Vacancy," and in 2013, she wrote her first screenplay for the film adaptation of "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them."
She also wrote 5 more books under the name of Robert Galbraith, a pen name she used to write crime novels.
JK Rowling Life story
Much like the main character in her Harry Potter fantasy series of books, J.K. Rowling took a steep pathway to success. Within five years, she quickly became one of the richest women in Great Britain. Her self-made fortune amassing to nine figures combined with her influence as a writer made her one of the most powerful celebrities by Forbes. Time magazine also ranked her as a runner-up in the magazine's search for 2007 Person of the Year.
More than her fortune, Rowling's influence transcends beyond her rich stature as she impacts the moral and social dimensions of her huge following. Leading magazine editors in UK later named her as the most influential woman in Britain.
How She Started It All
Rowling's humble beginnings can be traced back seven years after graduating from university. This is the time when she saw herself as a failure. She had a failed marriage, she had no permanent work, and she had a young daughter to take care of.
After her divorce she moved from Portugal to Edinburgh, Scotland near her sister. The failed marriage with Portugal TV journalist Jorge Arantes caused her so much misery that she suffered clinical depression and she went as far as to contemplate suicide.
Trying to survive in Scotland, she tried her luck in a career in teaching English as a foreign language. However, in order to get the post, she needed further postgraduate certification, which required her to study full-time for one year. She matriculated herself into this course upon finishing her first novel while having to rely on benefits through the state welfare support.
The Hero's Journey & The Subsequent Success of Her Writing Career
The seemingly hopeless situation was the same source of inspiration that propelled Rowling into becoming a huge success. A short anecdote on how Rowling finished the first novel was also popular among her fans.
She wrote the work in different cafes, especially in Nicolson's Cafe, which also became a local place of interest. Only when Jessica falls asleep can Rowling began writing the novel. She had to tire Jessica by walking to different cafes and only then she can resume writing, which proved to be very tough being a single mother.
The first book, entitled Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, was originally a manuscript written on an old manual typewriter brought to completion in 1995.
Bryony Evens, who reviewed the book's first three chapters, responded enthusiastically so that the personnel from the Christopher Little Literary Agents decided to represent Rowling in searching for publishers. However, twelve publishing houses initially rejected the manuscript.
Fortunately, a small publishing house owner Barry Cunningham agreed to publish the book owing through her eight-year-old daughter who loved reading the first few pages immediately requesting the follow-up texts.
Since then, Rowling received several grants, one of these from the Scottish Arts Council. From then on, she became a highly sought for writer and subsequent installments were successfully released with the series growing more and more in popularity.
Rowling's Rise to Fame
The Harry Potter fantasy series won several book awards. It won the Smarties Prize a record three times in a row, but with a naturally charitable spirit, Rowling withdrew the novel from the contest to give chance to other books to gain recognition.
In 2000, the fourth installment entitled Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which was released in the UK and the US, broke the sales record of the two countries. Comparatively, the Prisoner of Azkaban sold some 300,000 copies in a year, while the fourth book sold 300,000 copies in just a day.
Her books were later adapted to film in the equally famous Harry Potter film series. The huge fortune she earned was later shared to charitable institutions.
She then established in 2000 the Volant Charitable Trust which helps in alleviating social inequality and poverty. To quote Rowling, "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."
Learning from Her Story
Hopefully this zero to hero story of J.K. Rowling will encourage and push you to never give up on your biggest dreams.
Doing what you really like is one of the most important first steps towards realizing your goals. Whether it be on writing or in any other fields, keeping the passion alive provides enough fuel to continue the drive.
JK Rowling Facts
1. J.K. Rowling is a British author and philanthropist, best known for writing the Harry Potter fantasy series.
2. She was born as Joanne Rowling on July 31, 1965, in Yate, England.
3. She is the author of the Harry Potter series, which has sold over 500 million copies worldwide and has been adapted into a successful film series.
4. She wrote the first Harry Potter book, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone," while living in Edinburgh, Scotland.
5. She originally wrote the book under the pseudonym "J.K. Rowling" as she felt that the target audience of young boys would not want to read a book written by a woman.
6. The Harry Potter series has been translated into over 80 languages.
7. Rowling is the first person to become a billionaire (US dollars) by writing books.
8. She has won numerous awards for her writing, including several British Book Awards and the prestigious Edgar Award.
9. She is also a philanthropist, supporting multiple causes such as Multiple Sclerosis research, and children's welfare.
10. She founded the Volant Charitable Trust, which aims to alleviate poverty, promote social justice, and provide assistance to people in need.
11. She is also the founder of the international children's organization, Lumos.
12. She has written several other books, including the "Cormoran Strike" crime series under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.
13. She has also written screenplays for the Harry Potter spin-off film "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" and its sequels.
14. She has a strong presence on social media, where she regularly interacts with her fans and promotes various causes.
15. She has a passion for history, mythology and folklore.
16. She has been married to husband, Neil Murray, since 2001, they have two children together.
17. She has a love for charity works and has donated millions of dollars to various causes through her charitable trust.
18. She has been honored with numerous awards, including an OBE in 2001, a Companion of Honor in 2017, and a Kennedy Center Honors in 2018.
19. JK rowling full name: Joanne Kathleen Rowling
20. JK rowling other pen name: Robert Galbraith
JK Rowling Highlights
Early Life and Family (1965-1987):
Joanne Rowling was born on July 31, 1965, in Yate, Gloucestershire, to Anne and Peter Rowling. Her parents met while serving in the Navy and married at the age of 19. Joanne grew up in Yate and later Winterbourne, where her love for reading and writing was nurtured by her parents. She had a sister named Dianne. Her early attempts at writing were influenced by the books her parents read to her. Joanne's family moved to Tutshill when she was around nine, and she attended a local school there. She developed a fascination for fantasy and writing during this period.
Secondary School and University (1987-1991):
Joanne attended Wyedean School and College for her secondary education, where she was both bullied and inspired by certain teachers who encouraged her writing. Despite facing challenges, she excelled in her studies and took a keen interest in literature. Her mother's diagnosis of multiple sclerosis when Joanne was 15 and her strained relationship with her father contributed to a difficult home life during her teenage years. She gained admission to the University of Exeter and graduated with a degree in French after spending a year studying in Paris.
Inspiration, Tragedy, and Beginnings (1991-1995):
After university, Joanne moved to Portugal to teach English and write. She met Jorge Arantes and married him, eventually giving birth to their daughter Jessica. However, the marriage was troubled, and Joanne experienced domestic abuse. Her mother's death and the end of her marriage led her to move to Edinburgh with her daughter. There, facing financial struggles, she began writing Harry Potter. The series' characters and story came to her during a train journey, and she poured her imagination into it.
Divorce and New Beginnings (1995-1997):
After separating from her husband, Joanne found herself in challenging circumstances, struggling financially as a single parent. She sought government assistance and began working on her manuscript while taking on temp jobs. She moved to Edinburgh and finished the first book, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone," in a flat she described as "mouse-ridden." Her mental health suffered, and she sought therapy to overcome depression and suicidal thoughts. She filed for divorce in 1994 and completed the divorce process in 1995. Despite her hardships, Joanne's determination to become a writer remained strong.
Publishing the Beginning of Harry Potter:
In June 1995, J.K. Rowling completed the manuscript for "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone." After facing initial rejections, Rowling's manuscript was finally accepted by Barry Cunningham of Bloomsbury Publishing. The first book introduces Harry Potter, a young wizard, and his journey to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The story follows his adventures with friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley as they attempt to thwart the plans of the dark wizard Lord Voldemort, who killed Harry's parents. "Philosopher's Stone" was published in 1997 by Bloomsbury and became the start of a beloved literary phenomenon.
The Potter Series Grows and Concludes (1998-2007)
The following years witnessed the rapid release of several Harry Potter sequels: "Chamber of Secrets" (1998), "Prisoner of Azkaban" (1999), and "Goblet of Fire" (2000). The series continued to gain immense popularity, with each installment selling millions of copies. Rumors of writer's block surrounded Rowling, but "Order of the Phoenix" was released in 2003, followed by "Half-Blood Prince" in 2005. The epic saga concluded with "Deathly Hallows" in 2007, in which Harry ultimately defeats Voldemort.
Teaching and Success:
After completing her manuscript, Joanne began a teacher training course while continuing to write. The publication of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" in 1997 marked the beginning of her immense success as an author. The book's themes of love, loss, and separation were deeply personal to her. With the book's release, she found herself moving away from teaching and becoming a full-time writer. The subsequent years saw the release of more books in the Harry Potter series, solidifying her status as a literary phenomenon.
Film Adaptations and Expanding the Wizarding World:
Warner Bros. purchased the film rights to the first two Harry Potter books in 1999. The film series was successful, with the final installment being split into two parts. Rowling's partnership with Warner Bros. expanded in 2013, leading to a series of films based on "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," a prequel set in the same wizarding universe. The first film was released in 2016, followed by subsequent installments.
Personal and Professional Developments:
Rowling's journey from financial struggles to immense wealth paralleled her rise to fame. She identifies as a Christian and has experienced both doubts and struggles with her faith, which have influenced her writing. In 2001, she married Neil Murray and became a mother to two children. Forbes initially dubbed her the "first billion-dollar author," though her philanthropic efforts and UK taxes affected her net worth. Rowling's success continued, being recognized as the highest-paid author by Forbes multiple times.
Beyond Harry Potter: Adult Fiction and Pseudonymous Works
Rowling's writing expanded beyond the wizarding world with "The Casual Vacancy" in 2012, her first novel for adults. The Cormoran Strike detective series, penned under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, showcased her versatility as a writer. The series was well-received, leading to a television adaptation. Additionally, Rowling continued to contribute to the Harry Potter universe through Pottermore, a website offering additional information about characters and stories. "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" premiered on stage in 2016, marking a new chapter in the Potter narrative.
JK Rowling books
J.K. Rowling is most famous for writing the Harry Potter series, which includes the following books:
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
In addition to the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling has also written several other books:
"The Casual Vacancy" is a 2012 novel for adult readers.
"Cuckoo Calling" is a 2013 crime novel written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.
"The Silkworm" and "Career of Evil" are two other crime novels also under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith
"Troubled Blood" is a 2020 crime novel under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith
"The Ickabog" is a children's novel that was published in 2020.
How did JK Rowling write harry potter?
J.K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter series while she was a single mother living in Edinburgh, Scotland. She began writing the first book, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone," in 1995, and it was published in 1997.
The inspiration for the Harry Potter series came to her on a train ride from Manchester to London in 1990. She had the basic idea for the story of a boy who discovers he is a wizard, and she began to develop the characters and plot over the next few years.
Rowling wrote much of the series while she was living on government benefits and struggling financially. She wrote the first book in cafes and libraries, often with her infant daughter on her lap. She has said that the idea of an orphan boy who discovers he is a wizard resonated with her own feelings of isolation and abandonment.
It's worth noting that the writing process for the Harry Potter series was not a smooth one. Rowling faced multiple rejections from publishers before Bloomsbury agreed to publish the book. After that, the series faced some criticisms but that didn't stop her from continuing the series. Eventually, the Harry Potter series became a cultural phenomenon, selling more than 500 million copies worldwide and being adapted into a successful film franchise.
JK Rowling movies
The Harry Potter series of books have been adapted into a popular film franchise. The films are directed by various directors and produced by David Heyman, David Barron, and Rowling herself. The main cast includes Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, Emma Watson as Hermione Granger, and Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley. There are 8 Harry Potter movies released from 2001 to 2011.
JK Rowling Top Quotes
"If you want to see the true measure of a man, watch how he treats his inferiors, not his equals." (Meaning)
"It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default." (Meaning)
"Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home."
"Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike." (Meaning)
"The internet has been a boon and a curse for teenagers."
"To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure." (Meaning)
"I would like to be remembered as someone who did the best she could with the talent she had."
"Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young." (Meaning)
"Death is just life's next big adventure." (Meaning)
"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live." (Meaning)
"Humans have a knack for choosing precisely the things that are worst for them."
"Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself." (Meaning)
"If you're holding out for universal popularity, I'm afraid you will be in this cabin for a very long time."
"I really don't believe in magic."
"The poor are discussed as this homogeneous mash, like porridge. The idea that they might be individuals, and be where they are for very different, diverse reasons, again seems to escape some people."
"It is our choices... that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."
"What's coming will come and we'll just have to meet it when it does." (Meaning)
"I was set free because my greatest fear had been realized, and I still had a daughter who I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life." (Meaning)
"The truth. It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and must therefore be treated with great caution." (Meaning)
"Failure means a stripping away of the inessential." (Meaning)
"Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power to that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared."
"There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other."
"Poverty entails fear and stress and sometimes depression. It meets a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts that is something on which to pride yourself but poverty itself is romanticized by fools."
"Secretly we're all a little more absurd than we make ourselves out to be." (Meaning)
"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."
"Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light."
"We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better"
"It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends"
"It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default."
"I don't believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book"
"You sort of start thinking anything's possible if you've got enough nerve." (Meaning)
"It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends." (Meaning)
"Anything's possible if you've got enough nerve." (Meaning)
"Never be ashamed! There's some who'll hold it against you, but they're not worth bothering with." (Meaning)
"Talent and intelligence never yet inoculated anyone against the caprice of the fates." (Meaning)
"Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts that is something on which to pride yourself but poverty itself is romanticized by fools." (Meaning)
"Hearing voices no one else can hear isn't a good sign, even in the wizarding world." (Meaning)
"In a novel you have to resist the urge to tell everything." (Meaning)
"It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." (Meaning)
"Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain." (Meaning)
"The moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you." (Meaning)
* The editor of this short biography made every effort to maintain information accuracy, including any quotes, facts, or key life events. If you're looking to expand your personal development, I recommend exploring other people's life stories and gaining inspiration from my collection of inspiring quotes. Exposing yourself to different perspectives can broaden your worldview and help you with your personal growth.
Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.