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J.K. Rowling - Queen Without A Crown, Fantasy Turned Reality

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Two significant events happened during a train ride that made the world know about J.K. Rowling.

The first one was in 1964.

A young man and a young woman boarded the train at King’s Cross station in London. They interacted as the train traveled to Arbroath, Scotland.

They eventually fell in love, got married, and . . . became her parents.

The second one was in 1990.

COPYRIGHT_WI: Published on https://washingtonindependent.com/ebv/j.k.-rowling/ by Amandeep Coleman on 2022-09-06T13:04:13.109Z

A 25/26-year-old woman boarded the train at Manchester station going to King’s Cross. While in transit, a thought came to her about a storyline starring a wizard boy.

J.K. Rowling gifted the world with a story that immensely changed a lot of lives - most particularly hers.

J.K. Rowling's Ultimate Advice For Every 20 Year Old | One of the Best Motivational Speeches Ever

Pages In The Life Of J.K. Rowling

The all-time favorite Harry Potter creator was born on July 31, 1965 in Chipping Sodbury War Memorial Cottage Hospital in a town in Gloucestershire, England.

Her birth name is Joanne Volant Rowling. Her nickname: Jo.

She only added “K” (for “Kathleen”) to her name when the first Harry Potter book was about to be published.

“Kathleen” was taken from her paternal grandmother’s name (Kathleen Ada Bulgen-Rowling).

According to a 1998 interview with U.K.-based Independent Television News (ITN), the publisher said that her given name would not be spelled out.

It wanted to market “Harry Potter” as a book from a male author.

So, “Joanne” became “J.” Then she added “K” after the publisher asked for another initial.

Thus, the “J.K. Rowling” pen name was created in 1996.

Her parents are Peter “Pete” James B. Rowling and Anne Smith Volant-Rowling (February 5, 1945-December 30, 1990).

They’re both Londoners from middle class families.

She has a younger sister: Dianne “Di” V. Rowling-Moore (born June 28, 1967), a lawyer.

Anne carrying young J.K. Rowling and baby Dianne; the Rowling family, with J.K. Rowling standing
Anne carrying young J.K. Rowling and baby Dianne; the Rowling family, with J.K. Rowling standing

The Parents

Peter and Anne Rowling were 19 when they got married on March 14, 1965. They left London and decided to raise a family in Yate.

Anne was only 18 when she conceived her.

At the time of this writing, her father is still alive. Peter Rowling was born in 1945. In 2022, he either turned 77 or 78.

Anne Rowling died at 45 due to multiple sclerosis, a disease affecting the brain and spinal cord.

In a 2014 interview with The Guardian, she described her mother as “a passionate reader.” She added:

I started writing it [“Harry Potter”] six months before she died, so that is painful. I wish she’d known.

In 2010, at 45, J.K. Rowling did something in memory of her mother, who didn’t anymore witness her success as an author.

She founded a clinical research facility focused on brain-related degenerative diseases and gave £10 million to start it.

In October 2013, the not-for-profit Anne Rowling Clinic, situated inside the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, officially opened.

The Married Life

At 26, J.K. Rowling went to Portugal to work as an English teacher.

One night, in a café in the city of Porto, he met a 23-year-old Portuguese student named Jorge Arantes, who later became a TV journalist.

They were dating for seven months when she had a miscarriage. He proposed to her when she got pregnant again.

At 27, J.K. Rowling got married on October 16, 1992. On July 27, 1993 in Porto, she gave birth to Jessica Isabel.

She named her first child after English author Jessica Mitford (1917-1996).

According to The New Yorker, Rowling read Mitford’s works when she was a teenager. Her maternal great-aunt Ivy, a Classics teacher, encouraged her to read them.

At 28, she became a divorced single mother. They split up on November 17, 1993.

At 36, she married again on December 26, 2001. This time, to a Scottish doctor named Neil Murray.

They have two children: David Gordon and Mackenzie Jean.

J.K. Rowling - Personal InformationDetails
Full NameJoanne Kathleen V. Rowling-Murray
NicknameJo
Pen NamesJ. K. Rowling; Robert Galbraith
Age57 (2022)
Height (in feet)5 feet and 4 inches (1.65 meters)
Date of BirthJuly 31, 1965
Place of BirthChipping Sodbury War Memorial Cottage Hospital, Chipping Sodbury in Gloucestershire, England
NationalityBritish
ParentsPeter James B. Rowling; Anne S. Volant-Rowling
SiblingDianne V. Rowling-Moore (born June 28, 1967)
Civil StatusMarried
First MarriageJorge Arantes (1992-1993)
ChildJessica Isabel R. Arantes (born October 16, 1992)
Second MarriageNeil Murray (2001-Present)
ChildrenDavid Gordon (March 24, 2003); Mackenzie Jean (born January 23, 2005)

The Important Places

J.K. Rowling initially grew up in the town of Yate in South Gloucestershire, England. Then they moved to the village of Winterbourne.

In Winterbourne, she and her sister had two playmates: a brother-and-sister tandem surnamed Potter.

She stated in the J.K. Rowling Official Site:

I always liked their name [Potter].

At 9 years old, the Rowling family relocated for the third and last time in the village of Tutshill in Gloucestershire.

She finished high school at Wyedean Comprehensive School (now Wyedean School & Sixth Form Center).

According to a 2003 article by the U.K. publication Tes Magazine, Wyedean - its structure and faculty - could have inspired J.K. Rowling when she wrote about Hogwarts and its teachers.

It was in Wyedean where he met and became close friends with Sean Harris. Rowling later dedicated the second Harry Potter book to him.

At the J.K. Rowling Official Site, she revealed:

He was the first person with whom I really discussed my serious ambition to be a writer . . . the only person who thought I was bound to be a success at it.

In 1986, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in French and Classics at University of Exeter in England.

Her Jobs Before The ‘Harry Potter’ Success

Before J.K. Rowling became a billionaire writer, she became a teacher and a secretary.

Recalling her stint as a bilingual secretary, she said, according to The Rowling Library:

I was never paying much attention in meetings because I was usually scribbling bits of my latest stories in the margins of the pad, or choosing excellent names for the characters.

According to Headspace Group, she worked as a researcher in the London office of Amnesty International and at the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce.

She headed to Portugal and worked as an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher for 18 months.

When J.K. Rowling went back to Edinburgh, she continued finishing the first Harry Potter book.

While waiting for it to get published, she took a job as a French teacher.

J.K. Rowling - Education, Work, and OthersDetails
First Primary SchoolSt. Michael’s Primary School (Winterbourne, South Gloucestershire)
Second Primary School (where she graduated)Tutshill Primary (Chepstow, Gloucestershire)
High SchoolWyedean Comprehensive School (Sedbury, Gloucestershire)
CollegeUniversity of Exeter in England
CourseBachelor of Arts in French and Classics
Present Main Jobwriter, novelist
First Jobbilingual secretary (England)
Second Jobresearcher (Amnesty International; London)
Third Jobpersonnel (Chamber of Commerce; Macnhester)
Fourth JobEnglish as a Foreign Language teacher (Portugal)
Fifth JobFrench teacher
Social Media Account Twitter (13.9 million followers)
Net Worth£820 million or $1.1 billion (2022 estimates)

J.K. Rowling Books

J.K. Rowling would write the first Harry Potter book in cafés in Edinburgh. Two of them were Nicolson’s Café and The Elephant House.

After 12 publishing companies declined her manuscript, in August 1996, one finally agreed to publish it.

Per Showbiz Cheat Sheet, Bloomsbury Publishing (U.K.) initially paid J.K. Rowling £2,500 for the first Harry Potter book.

Front and back covers of the seven hardbound copies of ‘Harry Potter’
Front and back covers of the seven hardbound copies of ‘Harry Potter’

J.K. Rowling ‘Harry Potter’ Books

When asked why she wrote Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling replied, as quoted from Kidsreads.com:

The idea that we could have a child who escapes from the confines of the adult world and goes somewhere where he has power, both literally and metaphorically, really appealed to me.

Below are all the Harry Potter editions, all published by Bloomsbury:

Book Title - “Happy Potter” SeriesPublication Date (First Edition; in U.K.)
Philosopher’s StoneJune 26, 1997 (223 pages)
Chamber of SecretsJuly 2, 1998 (251 pages)
Prisoner of AzkabanJuly 8, 1999 (317 pages)
Goblet of FireJuly 8, 2000 (636 pages)
Order of the PhoenixJune 21, 2003 (766 pages)
Half-Blood PrinceJuly 16, 2005 (607 pages)
Deathly HallowsJuly 2007 (607 pages)

All seven Harry Potter books were made into movies, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.

Per The Numbers, the combined worldwide box office sales of the film series was $7.6 billion ($7,653,809,568).

It was a total of eight movies (2001-2011), with Deathly Hallows split into two parts.

The movie franchise launched the careers of Daniel Radcliffe (as Harry Potter), now 33; Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), 32; and Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), 34.

Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and Daniel Radcliffe as kids and as teens
Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and Daniel Radcliffe as kids and as teens

What Did J.K. Rowling Write Other Than ‘Harry Potter?’

After Harry Potter, she tried writing adult fiction.

In the first one, The Casual Vacancy, it’s a different J.K. Rowling. She covered mature topics, such as suicide, rape, and heroin addiction.

It was made into a three-part drama series shown in 2015.

Book TitlePublication Date
The Casual VacancySeptember 2012 (503 pages)
Genresfantasy fiction, dark comedy
Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of ImaginationApril 2015 (74 pages; illustrated)
Genresnonfiction, self-help, inspirational, personal development
The IckabogNovember 2020 (290 pages; illustrated)
Genresfiction, fairytale, adventure, children, young adult
The Christmas PigOctober 2021 (288 pages)
Genresfiction, fantasy, children

After The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling started writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith for her series of detective-crime novels.

Rowling was eventually outed in 2013.

She decided to use a pen name to avoid the “phenomenal amount of pressure” she felt when writing the Harry Potter series.

That’s what Rowling said to the National Public Radio (NPR) in 2015. In addition, she wanted the novel to create its own mark. As she further said:

So, you can probably understand the appeal of going away and creating something very different, and just letting it stand or fall on its own merits.

According to The Sun, it’s “Robert” because J.K. Rowling considers Robert F. Kennedy (1925-1968), the assassinated U.S. Attorney General, a hero.

Per The Guardian, as a child, she wanted the name “Ella Galbraith.”

Published Books as Robert GalbraithPublication Date
The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike #1)April 2013 (464 pages)
The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike #2)June 2014 (456 pages)
Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike #3)October 2015 (512 pages)
Lethal White (Cormoran Strike #4)September 2018 (656 pages)

J.K. Rowling New Book

A 2012 article by The New Yorker quoted her as saying:

I’m a writer, and I will write what I want to write.

And that’s what she did - amidst the public condemnations she received for her tweets deemed to be transphobic.

In August 2022, the 1,272-page novel The Ink Black Heart (Cormoran Strike #6) was released.

Interestingly, per NPR, it’s about a murdered female cartoonist, who suffered from online attacks from a “mysterious online figure.”

Five Robert Galbraith books in the Cormoran Strike series
Five Robert Galbraith books in the Cormoran Strike series

J.K. Rowling Net Worth

According to The Sunday Times, the estimated net worth of J.K. Rowling in 2022 is £820 million ($1.1 billion).

She first made it on the Forbes Billionaires List when she was 38. She stayed there from 2004-2011.

As of 2020, the net worth of Queen Elizabeth II was $460 million. That same year, Rowling’s was a little over $1 billion.

J.K. Rowling Charity

J.K. Rowling pays huge taxes and donates to more than a dozen charities. When COVID-16 struck, she donated £1 million to help the homeless and the victims of domestic violence.

By 2011, her total donations reached $160 million, according to Philanthropic People.

The table below shows some of her beneficiaries, as compiled by LookToTheStars.org:

Name of OrganizationDetails
Book Aid International (London)book donations to Africa and other countries
Catie Hoch Foundation (New York)children with cancer
Gingerbread (England and Wales) single parent families
Haven Foundation (Maine, U.S.)financial aid to freelance artists
Heifer International (Arkansas, U.S.) global poverty and hunger
Lumos (U.S., England, Worldwide)children empowerment, children with intellectual disabilities
Make A Child Smile - MACS (Florida, U.S.)children with life-threatening conditions
PEN Internationalfor global writers

Issues With J.K. Rowling And Other Controversies

Two of the challenging chapters in her life involve her father and the public, which include her very own fans.

Business Insider reported that J.K. Rowling last talked to his father in 2003.

It stemmed from Peter Rowling selling an autographed Harry Potter book she gave him in 2000 for Father’s Day.

As for the other struggle, it’s about her tweets that several members of the transgender community find offensive.

In a 2015 interview, as quoted by The Cut, J.K. Rowling said:

Twitter for me has been an unmixed blessing.

Even Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson called her out for her tweets that were offensive to transgender people.

In the documentary “Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts” (2022), J.K. Rowling was nearly absent from it.

Only old footage of her was included in the said documentary.

Poster for ‘Harry Potter 20th Anniversary’ and J.K. Rowling in black dress and matching earrings and necklace
Poster for ‘Harry Potter 20th Anniversary’ and J.K. Rowling in black dress and matching earrings and necklace

People Also Ask

Is J.K. Rowling Still Writing?

Yes, J.K. Rowling still writes. The Ink Black Heart, the latest installment in the Strike series, came out on August 30, 2022.

It could be Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

In 2021, an original copy of its first hardbound edition was bought from an auction for $471,000, per Antique Trader.

How Much Are 1st Edition ‘Harry Potter’ Books Worth?

In 2021, Independent reported that they can fetch somewhere between £200 and £40,000.

Will ‘Harry Potter’ Ever Return?

If the one being referred to is Daniel Radcliffe, he’s not interested to be part of the film version of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, according to Vanity Fair.

Conclusion

In 2003, Tes Magazine interviewed Mike Thompson about J.K. Rowling.

At that time, he already taught science for 30 years at Wyedean, where she was a high school alumna. As a teenage student, Thompson described her as:

Jo was quiet and worked hard. She didn’t stand out as being exceptional.

Indeed, Rowling worked hard. Now, she’s no longer quiet: always active on Twitter.

In a 2010 interview, Oprah Winfrey introduced her as the “first self-made billionaire author in history.”

That one is an exceptional accomplishment for J.K. Rowling, who continues to stand out in the literary world.

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About The Authors

Amandeep Coleman

Amandeep Coleman - Amandeep had never known a moment when she wasn't reading or making up stories, having been born into a family of readers. She took out a pencil and notebook during the now-famous blizzard and started writing down one of those stories. It was there that I began my professional life. Her first book was written after several rejections and manuscripts. She is a member of many writers' organizations and has received several accolades from her peers and the publishing industry. The New Yorker recently dubbed her "America's favorite novelist".

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