J.K.ROWLING Biography - Theater, Opera and Movie personalities


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Ms. Joanne Kathleen Rowling (pronounced rolling) was born on July 31st, 1965 in Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire, England. Her sister, Di, was born a little under 2 years later.


It is interesting to note that Ms. Rowling claims that she has actually been writing since she was 5 or 6 years old. Her first story, called Rabbit, was filled with interesting characters, such as a large bee called Miss Bee.


She recalls often getting called “Rowling pin” by her less than ingenious school friends. J.K. Rowling says she never really warmed to her own name, although, she does remember having a fondness for the name Potter from quite an early age. J.K.Rowling studied at a school in Gloucestershire, before moving to Chepstow, South Wales at the age of 9.


Ms. Rowling, along with her parents and sister, moved twice while J K was growing up. While at one of their homes, close to Bristol and in Winterbourne, she had friends next door whose last name was Potter. J K never forgot the children, or the last name, which she liked very much.


When she was nine years old her family moved again to Tutshill. Ms. Rowling attended a primary (grade) school in Tutshill, and later attended Wyedean Comprehensive. Ms. Rowling describes herself as being shy, freckly, with no natural athletic ability but a great love of literature. Later, when she graduated from Wyedean Comprehensive, she attended Exeter University.


Here Ms. Rowling studied French after her parents encouraged her into what they believed would be a wonderful career as a bilingual secretary. After graduation, however, it didn’t take Ms. Rowling long to realize that she was not meant to be a secretary. Self described as “the worst secretary ever, very disorganized", she found it increasingly hard to remain attentive during meetings, actually writing story ideas instead of taking notes as she had been instructed.


When Ms. Rowling was 26 years old she moved to Portugal to be an English teacher. Ms. Rowling has been quoted many times as saying she loved teaching English, often teaching in the afternoons and evenings so that she could be free to work on her writing during the mornings. It was during this period that she began working on a story about a “wizard".


Ms. Rowling met and married a journalist in Portugal (he was Portuguese), and her daughter Jessica was born in 1993. Shortly after the birth of her daughter, the marriage ended in divorce and Ms. Rowling, along with her infant daughter, moved to Edinburgh, Scotland so that J K could be near her younger sister, Di. It was during this time that Ms. Rowling became determined to not only finish her Harry Potter ‘wizard’ novel, but to get it published.


Often she would write in restaurants, where she and her daughter could stay warm while she wrote. Ms. Rowling requested a grant from the Scottish Arts Council, which she eventually received, in order to complete her book. When it was completed and after several rejections, Ms. Rowling sold the novel, Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone, to Bloomsbury in the UK for the equivalent of about $4,000.


To support her daughter and herself, Ms. Rowling began working as a French teacher. After several months Arthur A Levine Books/Scholastic Press bought the American rights to the first “Harry Potter", and Ms. Rowling received enough money to give up teaching and write full time. Ms. Rowling has described this moment as the happiest of her life.


After Bloomsbury Children’s Books published the book in June 1997, it wasn’t long before Ms. Rowling was recognized as a major discovery. The awards and accolades grew quickly for both Harry Potter and Ms. Rowling. In 1997 the book won The British Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year, and the Smarties Prize.


When published in the US, in September of 1998, the book was renamed and released by Arthur A Levine Books / Scholastic Press; the new title was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone


Ms. Rowling quickly wrote a sequel, Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets, which was published July of 1998 in the UK, and in June 1999 in the USA. Immediately after this successful sequel a third book, Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, was published in July and September of 1999, in the UK and the USA, respectively.


To her amazement, and joy, Ms. Rowling became a household name when the first three installments of the Harry Potter series took over the top 3 slots in the New York Times bestsellers list. (It’s interesting to note that the books also did as well, achieving similar results, in the UK)


By the summer of 2000, Ms. Rowling had reportedly earned over $400 million for her first three Harry Potter books, which have been printed in 35 languages and sold over 30 million copies. Her fourth book in the popular series, entitled Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, pre-sold over one million advanced copies, with a first printing of 5.3 million.


Because of her domination and incredible success on the New York Times bestseller list, the decision was made to introduce a bestseller list for children’s books, which would eliminate the dominating factor of these bestsellers on the current The New York Times bestseller list. This brought a tremendous amount of relief and happiness to a lot of competing authors - and a tremendous honor to Ms. J K Rowling.