J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling is the creator of the ‘Harry Potter’ fantasy series, one of the most popular book and film franchises in history.

Who Is J.K. Rowling?

J.K. Rowling, is a British author and screenwriter best known for her seven-book Harry Potter children’s book series. The series has sold more than 500 million copies and was adapted into a blockbuster film franchise.

Early Life

Rowling was born Joanne Rowling on July 31, 1965, in Yate, England. She adopted her pen name, J.K., incorporating her grandmother’s name, Kathleen, for the latter initial (Rowling does not have a middle name).

A graduate of the University of Exeter, Rowling moved to Portugal in 1990 to teach English. There, she met and married the Portuguese journalist Jorge Arantes. The couple’s daughter, Jessica, was born in 1993. After her marriage ended in divorce, Rowling moved to Edinburgh with her daughter to live near her younger sister, Di.

While struggling to support her daughter Jessica and herself on welfare, Rowling worked on her first book in the Harry Potter series. The idea for the book reportedly occurred to her while she was traveling on a train from Manchester to London in 1990.

Books

‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’

After a number of rejections, Rowling finally sold her first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, for the equivalent of about $4,000; it hit shelves in June 1997. The word “Philosopher” in the book’s original title was changed to “Sorcerer” for its publication in America.

The book was the start of a seven-book series chronicling the life of the young wizard Harry Potter and his motley band of cohorts at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’

The second book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, came out in July 1998.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’

The third book in Rowling’s series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, hit shelves in July 1999. By the following summer, the first three Harry Potter books had earned approximately $480 million in three years, with over 35 million copies in print in 35 languages.

The phenomenal response to Rowling’s books culminated in July 2000, when the fourth volume in the series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, became the fastest-selling book in 24 hours ever. The book saw a first printing of 5.3 million copies and advance orders of over 1.8 million.

‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’

After a postponed release date, the fifth installment, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, hit bookstores in June 2003.

‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’

The sixth installment, released in July 2005, sold 6.9 million copies in the United States in its first 24 hours. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was the biggest opening in publishing history.

‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’

Prior to its July 2007 release, the seventh and final installment in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was the largest ever pre-ordered book at Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores and at Amazon.com. Rowling does not plan to write any more books in the series, although she has not entirely ruled out the possibility.

READ MORE: Harry Potter: The Real-Life Inspirations Behind J.K. Rowling’s Characters

‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’

This collection of five fables mentioned in the Harry Potter book series, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, was released on December 4, 2008, at a tea party for 200 schoolchildren at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Rowling donated all royalties from the book to the Children’s High Level Group (which has been renamed Lumos), a charity that she co-founded to support institutionalized children in Eastern Europe.

‘The Casual Vacancy’

Rowling’s first book aimed at adults, The Casual Vacancy, was published in September 2012. The novel, a dark comedy about a local election in the small English town of Pagford, received mixed reviews.

A book review in The New York Times called the novel “disappointing” and “dull.” A review in The Telegraph, however, gave the book three out of five stars, stating that “Jane Austen herself would admire the way [Rowling] shows the news of Barry’s death spreading like a virus round Pagford.”

‘Cuckoo Calling,’ ‘The Silkworm,’ ‘Career of Evil,’ and ‘Lethal White’

In April 2013, Rowling broke into a new genre, crime fiction, with a novel she published under the pen name Robert Galbraith. In the first few months following the release of Cuckoo Calling, the novel had modest sales and received positive reviews. Sales for the work skyrocketed in July when its author’s identity was discovered.

According to Bloomberg News, Rowling said that “I had hoped to keep this secret a little longer, because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience. It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation, and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name.”

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