J. K. Rowling Biography
"Talent alone cannot make a writer. There must be a man behind the book."
J. K. Rowling Biography – the success story of Joanne Rowling
Her success story has become a subject of public fascination.
In the end of 1999, two years after the publication of her Harry Potter, Joanne Rowling was officially a millionaires. Financially it was a remarkable five years journey which started from cashing social benefits cheques and ended with receiving royalties.
In 2008 Sunday Times Rich List ranked her as the twelfth richest woman in Britain. Forbes ranked Rowling as the forty-eight most powerful celebrity of 2007.
However, this financial part of J. K. Rowling biography does not cover the true story of Joanne Rowling. The most important journey was the journey of making mistakes and taking risks. Joanne admitted that she had been very much afraid of failure and risks when she left university. This was the reason that she did not pursue at that time her only ambition she had ever had, to become a writer.
"I was afraid to risk poverty and disillusionment and devote myself wholeheartedly to the only ambition I had ever had, to be a writer."
When she became a single parent with no job and no money, Joanne realized that she had nothing to lose at all. This was the moment that she took a courage to find out her true value as a writer.
Here is her story.
J. K. Rowling Biography – childhood
Joanna’s parents met on a train in 1963, and it was love at first sight. Peter Rowling worked as a manager of an aircraft factory, and Ann worked as a lab technician. They had a lot in common: the sense of humor, love for books and family life.
Joanne Rowling was born on July 31, 1965 in Yate, England. The second name Kathleen was adopted by Joanne later for her writer’s name J. K. Rowling. It was a tribute to her grandmother Kathleen, who died when Joanne was nine-years-old.
From the very young age Joanne had a very curious, inquiring mind, and a vivid imagination. Both parents began reading books to her very early, and Joanne remembers the house of her childhood "being full of books." The young child loved the fairy tales so much, that she started dreaming up her own stories. Although she was then too young to dream what she wanted to be, she always thought about writing as a way to create magic.
In an interview in 1999 J. K. Rowling said:
"I don’t think anyone could have made me do it or could have prevented me from doing it. It’s weird, but writing is all I ever wanted to do."
When her younger sister, Di, was born less than 2 years after Joanne, and when Joanne was big enough to hold her, she began telling her magic stories for Di. One of the favorite stories of Di was about a rabbit. Because Di wanted to hear the same stories again and again, Joanne came to an idea of writing her stories down. Her first story was written when she was six-years-old. Di was thrilled by the story, and the parents amazed. However, they did not encourage their daughter to pursue her writing in any way.
"Ever since Rabbit and Miss Bee, I knew I wanted to be a writer," said Joanne Rowling in an interview to School Library Journal.
Her own favorite books were Narnia books by C. S. Lewis, "The Little White Horse" by Elizabeth Goudge and "Manxmouse" by Paul Gallico. She adored E. Nesbit and loved Noel Streatfeild. At the age of nine she discovered the books of Jane Austen and they remained her favorite, ever.
At some point of time, her closest friends were Ian and Vikki Potter. "I always liked the name," remembered Joanne Rowling.
J. K. Rowling Biography – Books
J. K. Rowling Biography – school years
She often felt insecure and shy at school, even though her grades were good. "I was quiet, freckly, short-sighted, and rubbish at sports," Joanne remembers. Writing stories became a passion where she could be herself. These stories were full of humor, funny names and characters, and magic.
In the later school years she began to read the biographies of the great people. She admired the author Jessica Mitford, and said that the book "Hons and Rebel" had changed her life.
According to Joanne, the worst memories of her teenage years were when her mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Even though she did not fully realize at that time what it meant, it was painful for the girl to see her mother becoming slowly but steadily worse.
Joanne ended her school with high honors. She knew exactly what she wanted in her life, but had no idea where to begin.
J. K. Rowling Biography – years at university
She had boxes and folders full of short stories, but had no idea how to get them published. At the age of eighteen she did not have any definite ideas nor courage to carry them out. This was the reason she decided to take her parent’s advice to study French and literature and enrolled to Exeter University.
Later, she called her years at Exeter "a fantastic experience", and her year in Paris was exciting. She graduated from Exeter with honors.
Joanne never stopped writing, however, also never tried to submit any of her stories. She felt too insecure to take any step ahead in the direction of her dreams.
J. K. Rowling Biography – Career
"I was happier as an impoverished and unpublished writer than I have ever been as a solvent and mediocre executive,"
Joanne went through a series of jobs, most of them secretarial. She found her jobs boring. The only consolation she had was in writing. "Whatever job I had, I was always writing like crazy," she admitted later.
She wrote many short stories, and abandoned several novels. However, her work ended up in another box with all other stories, and her self-esteem declined.
After having changed several employers, she found a job as an office worker for the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. She still found her work very boring, and spent her lunchtime at nearby pub or cafe writing her stories.
J. K. Rowling Biography – idea of Harry Potter
Joan’s life suddenly took another turn, when she was on the way to London, and her train stopped. It was some kind of mechanical problem, which required a delay of four hours. She was staring out the window, when the idea for Harry Potter appeared in her mind very clearly. "I suddenly had this basic idea of a boy who didn’t know what he was," she described several years later.
She invested all her free time in writing the story, month after month, filling her files and boxes with ideas and stories. Joanne felt very happy in this world of her own, she even did not mention it to her sister nor to her parents.
Her mother died suddenly at the age of forty-five. Joanne felt deeply the loss, mixed with a feeling of guilt and regret. Her deepest regret was that she never let her mother read her Harry Potter story.
Shortly thereafter, Joanne lost her job at the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. At that time Harry was the only motivation for her that got her through.
J. K. Rowling Biography – first marriage and separation
In September 1990, Joanne decided that she would no longer look for office work. She accepted the offer of a job in Portugal, teaching English as a second language at school. This first time she was happy about her job, and her students were happy about her. She worked afternoons and evenings, and had her mornings devoted to writing.
Her life changed when she met a journalist Jorge Arantes and fell in love with him. Few months after, they got married.
Joanne kept writing… Her book which had started as a typical children book, had become more detailed, having acquired the depth suited for adult readers. Later, Joanne said in an interview to Newsweek: "I wasn’t really aware that it was a children’s book. I really wrote it for me. It was what I found funny and what I liked."
In 1993, her daughter Jessica was born. However, the newly born child did not strengthen the couple’s relationship, which by then had become very stressful.
After the breakup with her husband, Joanne took a decision to return to U. K. with her four-months-old baby Jessica.
J. K. Rowling Biography – a come back
She moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, to be near her sister Di. It was a hard time for a single mother. Due to the fact that she was not eligible for child care, Joanne was forced into unemployment and public assistance. Public assistance barely covered rent and food, and Joanne could not afford even a second-hand typewriter.
"I never expected to mess up so badly that I would find myself in an unheated mouse-infested flat, looking after my daughter. And I was angry because I felt that I was letting her down," said Joanne to "Guardian."
Nicolson Cafe had become her favorite place to write Harry Potter.
At that, probably the lowest period of her life, her daughter Jessica and her Harry Potter were the only inspiration. During this period Joanne suffered from deep depression, which brought her to the idea of Dementors in her Harry Potter.
She finally confessed to her sister about the story of Harry Potter, which Di found immediately thrilling and captivating. "It’s possible if she had not laughed, I would have set the whole thing to one side," admitted Joanne, "but Di did laugh." She persuaded Joanne to take a risk to send her book to publishers.
J. K. Rowling Biography – a turning point
The year 1995 became a turning point in her life. Early in 1995 she finished her "Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone" and sent two copies of it to various agents. Encouraged by her own actions, she obtained a postgraduate certificate of education which enabled her to teach in Scotland, and found a job of a teacher of French at the Leth Academy and, later, at the Moray House Training College. In 1995 she was finally off welfare. Another good news for her was that she had received a grant from the Scottish Arts Council, which enabled her to continue writing.
J. K. Rowling Biography – a break through
A great news came in a mail. Agent Christopher Little wanted to see her full manuscript on an exclusive basis. This was the best letter in her life. But even at that moment she did not expect that she would ever be famous.
"All I ever wanted was for somebody to publish Harry so I could go to bookshops and see it."
Her book had been rejected by twelve publishing houses before it was finally accepted for publication by Bloomsbury Press, a small publishing house based in London.
Joanne was overwhelmed with joy. During her meeting at Bloomsbury the publisher advised her to get a day job. "You’ll never make any money out of children’s books." This remark would later become one of Joanne’s favorite stories.
"Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone" was published on 26 June 1997 in both hardback and paperback editions.
J. K. Rowling Biography – the success of Harry Potter
In 1997, the inquiries from publishers all over the world started coming in. The bidding for the book in U. S. had reached astronomical heights. An unheard-of amount of USD 105,000 was paid for an acquisition of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone" (The name in American edition). Joanne was "frozen in terror" when she heard the news.
Since this time, J. K. Rowling has been constantly in the public eye, giving interviews and talking to people.
On 8 July 1999, her next book, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" was published. This time, it came immediately to the top of the world’s bestseller lists.
By the end of 1999, Harry Potter books occupied three of the top four places in the bestseller lists of the year. Filming of Harry Potter and the translation of the book into many languages, made it known to virtually any person on the planet. The story continued, and the public interest to the books of Joanne Rowling and her personality is still enormous.
J. K. Rowling Biography – personal life
In 2001 Joanne got married to Dr. Neil Murray, who worked at that time as a senior house officer in anaesthetics at St. John’s Hospital in Livingston, U. K. They have two children, born in 2003 and 2005.
J. K. Rowling Biography – success and private life
Many awards had come to Joanne Rowling since the release of her Harry Potter. "Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone" won twenty-one in four years! Joanne Rowling still feels terrified about her success. She admitted that she felt much more comfortable and relaxed in a room of nine-years-olds when talking about her books and meeting people.
The problem Joanne Rowling has been facing during the last years, is maintaining her privacy in her role of a public celebrity.
J. K. Rowling Biography – her involvement in charity
Her personal confidence raised, and Joanne felt strong enough to stand up on issues that were important to her as a citizen.
Her first philanthropic act was to donate USD 750,000 to the National Council for One Parent Families based in London. She accepted the post of ambassador for the charity in September 2000. She had also generated publicity in her articles for the press on the problems of single parents and negative stereotypes towards them.
Joanne is the patron of various local charities in Scotland, and especially of the MS Society Scotland, which is especially close to her heart because of the illness of her late mother.
In 2000, Joanne Rowling established the Volant Charitable Trust, which uses its annual budget of GBP 5.1 million for donations to combat poverty, aid children, one parent families and multiple sclerosis research.
J. K. Rowling Biography – books and more
J. K. Rowling Biography – Her secrets of writing
"I write anytime, anyplace, and in longhand," Joanne said. She writes nearly every day, for 3 to eleven hours a day.
The author collects the unusual names and take them from all kinds of places. Some of them come from folklore, the other are invented.
"Start by writing the things that you know. Write about your own experiences and your own feelings. That’s what I do."
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