Joanne Kathleen Rowling (pronounced Rolling) is the author
of the wildly popular Harry Potter series about the experiences of a young boy
with magical powers coming of age in a school for wizards and witches. Born on
July 31st, 1965 in Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire, England, Rowling began
telling stories as early as age five, a habit she would continue throughout her
childhood. Self described as "quiet, freckly, short-sighted and rubbish at
sports", Rowling's favorite subjects at school were English and
After studying French in University, she embarked on a
short-lived career as a bilingual secretary. In 1990, at the age of 26, she
moved to Portugal to teach English, working afternoons and nights and spending
her mornings writing. While there she met and married a Portuguese journalist and
in 1993 gave birth to her daughter. It was during this time that the concept of
Harry and Hogwarts first came to her while she was stuck on a train delayed
between Manchester and London
After her marriage ended in divorce, Rowling and her
daughter moved to Edinburgh, Scotland where Rowling continued to write the
first Harry Potter novel, having set herself a goal to finish the book before
starting work as a French teacher. It is this period of her life that has been
over-romanticized by the media, who turned unsubstantiated rumor into legend.
Often frustrated by stories labeling her with the stigma of being a welfare
mother scribbling on napkins in the warmth of cafes to escape a cold flat,
Rowling maintains that though she and her daughter did indeed live exclusively
on welfare for six months, their flat was heated and the choice to write in
cafes with her daughter by her side was never made out of necessity.
Supplementing her welfare income by working a part time clerical job, she
eventually returned to school to be certified to teach French in Scotland, and
also received a grant from the Scottish Arts Council to complete her novel.
After a number of rejections, Rowling eventually sold
Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone for the equivalent of about $4,000 US.
The book was published in the UK in 1997 and a year later renamed Harry Potter
and the Sorcerer's Stone and published in the USA.
The sequel, Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets, was
published in the UK in July 1998 and in the USA in June 1999. The third book,
Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, was published in the UK in July 1999
and in the USA in September 1999.
By 1999 Rowling had become an international literary
celebrity when the first three books in the Harry Potter series all appeared
on the top three positions of the New York times best sellers list. By Summer
2000, the first three books had sold over 35 million copies in 35 languages and
earned approximately $480 million.
||Rowling plans to release seven books in total for
the series, each one chronicling a year in the life of Harry as he
attends Hogwarts school. The stories themselves get progressively darker
as Harry and his friends mature, tackling such themes as civil rights
and death. This, as well as the nature of the activities at the Hogwarts
school has at times brought a storm of protest from some parents and
many Christian fundamentalist groups who claim the books encourage
children to partake in satanic ritual.
Since her rise to stardom Rowling has faced book bannings and even a legal
battle over the use of the word "Muggle", but overall the support of
her enthusiastic young readers, their grateful parents and the surprisingly
large numbers of adult fans has kept the Harry Potter series a genuine
phenomenon in literature.
Currently there are six books in the series
Here is a great audio interview With Ms. Rowling