Biography of Author J. K. Rowling
The Harry Potter Generation
Do you consider yourself a part of the Harry Potter Generation?
What is the Harry Potter Generation?
- Defining the 'Potter Generation: Who qualifies?
An opinion piece that seeks to clarify who qualifies as a member of the Harry Potter Generation and what it means to be a part of it.
J.K. Rowling and her Harry Potter Universe
Did you know that some estimate J.K. Rowling makes $8.00 every minute? With the success of her Harry Potter novels alone, Rowling has become one of the highest paid authors and has inspired a whole generation of readers all over the world with her work. You may be familiar with the biography of her star hero, Harry Potter, in her novels, from the time he received his trademark lighting bolt scar, to the names of his children, but, how well do you know the woman behind the words?
J.K. Rowling's pen name comes from the first initial of her first name, Joanne, and the initial of her grandmother's name, Katherine. Before the success of the best selling book series in history, followed by the highest grossing film series based on those very books, Joanne "Jo" Rowling worked as a researcher and bilingual secretary for Amnesty International in London.
Her idea for the infamous Harry Potter universe came to her one day while waiting for a delayed train from Manchester to London. She describes this moment on her website:
"I was travelling back to London on my own on a crowded train, and the idea for Harry Potter simply fell into my head. I had been writing almost continuously since the age of six but I had never been so excited about an idea before. To my immense frustration, I didn't have a pen that worked, and I was too shy to ask anybody if I could borrow one…I did not have a functioning pen with me, but I do think that this was probably a good thing. I simply sat and thought, for four (delayed train) hours, while all the details bubbled up in my brain, and this scrawny, black-haired, bespectacled boy who didn't know he was a wizard became more and more real to me. Perhaps, if I had slowed down the ideas to capture them on paper, I might have stifled some of them (although sometimes I do wonder, idly, how much of what I imagined on that journey I had forgotten by the time I actually got my hands on a pen). I began to write 'Philosopher's Stone' that very evening, although those first few pages bear no resemblance to anything in the finished book."
Little did Rowling know that for the next seven years, from 1990 when inspiration struck while she waited for that bus, to 1997, her life would be turned upside down, with seemingly no light at the end of that proverbial tunnel until the first book's publication and success.
During those seven years, Rowling's mother passed away, she and her husband divorced, and she was faced with poverty. In the years following her success with the Harry Potter series, Rowling was named the 48th most powerful celebrity in 2007 by Forbes, runner up for person of the year for TIME magazine in 2007, the twelfth richest woman in the UK in 2008, and "Most Influential Woman in Britain" in 2010. Her rags to riches story, as well as her support for many charities, make her an inspiration to many authors and young children out there, despite any controversy her books might face concerning magic and witchcraft.
Who is J.K. Rowling?
The Life of J.K. Rowling Before Harry Potter
There's no doubt that Harry Potter has seriously influenced the life of J.K. Rowling, but, what about the life of the author before the books and spotlight? Yes, the two share the same July 31st birthday, but there's more to Ms. Rowling than just witchraft and wizardry.
Jo was born to Peter and Anne Rowling in 1965 in Yate, Gloucestershire, England. Even as a small child, Rowling was known to write fantasy stories that she'd read to her younger sister, Dianne. Her teenage years, she recalls, were a bit rough, with an ill mother and a difficult relationship with her father. She was very bookish, much like her character Hermione Granger, and didn't truly feel happy until she began her studies in French and Classics at the University of Exeter. She graduated in 1986.
The Cuckoo's Calling
J.K. Rowling's Life After Harry Potter
In 2012, J.K. Rowling surprised many fans with a new novel, meant for a more adult audience. The Casual Vacancy sold over one million copies in just the first three weeks after it was released and hit the number one spot on Amazon in just hours. It's received mixed reviews from fans but was still the second biggest adult book opening in the UK and the 15th best selling book of that year. In 2014, it is expected to be adapted into a television series on BBC One.
More recently, in 2013, Rowling surprised fans again when it was discovered that The Cuckoo's Calling, a detective novel that was supposedly written by Robert Galbraith, turned out to be written by the infamous Rowling instead. The name was taken from one of her heroes, Robert Kennedy, and a name she'd made up, Ella Galbraith. Although she made it clear she was disappointed in the loss of anonymity for the novel, the great reviews it had received beforehand proved that she was a great writer that could survive without her now infamous name and the works already associated with it.
As to the future of Rowling, she has promised to continue the series following The Cuckoo's Calling under the same pseudonym. She has also mentioned a project focused on a much younger audience than those of the Harry Potter novels. As to the world of Harry Potter, Rowling has said: "I can't say I'll never write another book about that world just because I think, what do I know, in ten years' time I might want to return to it but I think it's unlikely."
A Conversation With J.K. Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe
Who is J.K. Rowling?
For a little more insight into author J.K. Rowling, check out the lengthy interview above as she sits down with Daniel Radcliffe, who stars as Harry Potter in the movie adaptations of her novels.
How did the Harry Potter series effect your life? Did you enjoy J.K. Rowling's novels outside of the Harry Potter universe? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.
© 2013 LisaKoski