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J. K. Rowling Turns 50: Quotes from the Author

Updated on August 13, 2015

On this day, 50 years ago, the author of the fastest-selling book series in history, and one of the most influential women of our time, was born. Her name was Joanne Rowling.


On July 31st, 1965 in Yate, Glocesterhire, England, Joanne Rowling was born to Peter James Rowling, an aircraft engineer, and Anne Rowling, a science technician. As a child, Rowling often wrote fantasy stories, which she would read to her younger sister Dianne. It was on a four-hour delayed train ride from Manchester to London that she got the idea for the story of Harry Potter, for which she is famous. She immediately started writing when she got home. In December of that year Rowling's mother died before she had the chance to tell her about the books she was writing. Her death affected Rowling's writing and she was able to relate to Harry's struggle with not having parents. The depression that followed her divorce in 1994 also sparked the idea for the dementors. She completed the manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in 1995 and two years and twelve rejections later the first book in the series that would soon become the fastest-selling children's book series of all time and spark an equally popular movie franchise, was published by Bloomsbury.

For more details check out 18 Years of Harry Potter.

An Inspirational Woman

Joanne Rowling is not only a fantastic and talented author but also an outstanding woman with a heart of gold. Her success with the Harry Potter series made her the first person to become a billionaire by writing books alone and she went from living on welfare to being wealthier than the Queen of England. Now she has given so much of her wealth to charity that she can no longer claim billionaire status.

To celebrate the 50th birthday of this truly remarkable woman I have gathered a collection of her best, funniest and most inspirational quotes.

I would want to be in Gryffindor and the reason I would want to be in Gryffindor is because I do prize courage in all its various ramifications. I value it more highly than any other virtue and by that I mean not just physical courage and flashy courage, but moral courage.

Imagination is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.

If you want to know what a man's like, take a look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.

It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.

I understand from a teacher’s point of view that it’s easy to be a bully, but it’s also the worst, shabbiest thing you can do.

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.

Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

We touch other people’s lives simply by existing.

It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.

I would like to be remembered as someone who did the best she could with the talent she had.

To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.

It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.

I remember the first time I heard a teenager say 'LOL.' Just what? But it means 'laugh.' Why don't you just laugh? What are you doing?

People ask me if there are going to be stories of Harry Potter as an adult. Frankly, if I wanted to, I could keep writing stories until Harry is a senior citizen, but I don't know how many people would actually want to read about a 65 year old Harry still at Hogwarts playing bingo with Ron and Hermione.

Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.

Honestly, I think we should be delighted people still want to read, be it on a Kindle or a Nook or whatever the latest device is.

It is perfectly possible to live a very moral life without a belief in God, and I think it's perfectly possible to live a life peppered with ill-doing and believe in God.

It is important to remember that we all have magic inside us.

No story lives unless someone wants to listen.

Anything's possible if you've got enough nerve.

Is fat really the worst thing a human being can be? Is fat worse than vindictive, jealous, shallow, vain, boring, evil or cruel? Not to me.

I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.

Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all those who live without love.

Wit beyond measure is a man's greatest treasure.

We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.

Books are like mirrors: if a fool looks in, you cannot expect a genius to look out.

I don't believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book.

Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.

Youth can not know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young.

Why are you worrying about YOU-KNOW-WHO, when you should be worrying about YOU-NO-POO? The constipation sensation that's gripping the nation!

The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

To hurt is as human as to breathe.

There's always room for a story that can transport people to another place.

I mean, you could claim that anything's real if the only basis for believing in it is that nobody's proved it doesn't exist!


And I've always thought Fred and I should've got E in everything, because we exceeded expectations just by turning up for the exams.

The best of us must sometimes eat our words.

If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.

I really feel that we're not giving children enough credit for distinguishing what's right and what's wrong. I, for one, devoured fairy tales as a little girl. I certainly didn't believe that kissing frogs would lead me to a prince, or that eating a mysterious apple would poison me, or that with the magical "Bibbity-Bobbity-Boo" I would get a beautiful dress and a pumpkin carriage. I also don't believe that looking in a mirror and saying "Candyman, Candyman, Candyman" will make some awful serial killer come after me. I believe that many children recognize Harry Potter for what it is, fantasy literature. I'm sure there will always be some that take it too far, but that's the case with everything. I believe it's much better to engage in dialog with children to explain the difference between fantasy and reality. Then they are better equipped to deal with people who might have taken it too far.

As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.
I wish you all very good lives.

Constant vigilance!

Curiosity is not a sin.... But we should exercise caution with our curiosity.

Mischief Managed.

Destiny is a name often given in retrospect to choices that had dramatic consequences.

It was strange how your brain could know what your heart refused to accept.

I always advise children who ask me for tips on being a writer to read as much as they possibly can. Jane Austen gave a young friend the same advice, so I'm in good company there.

Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow,
Turn this stupid, fat rat yellow.

The mistake ninety-nine percent of humanity made, as far as Fats could see, was being ashamed of what they were; lying about it, trying to be somebody else.

The story we love do live in us forever, so whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.


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    • Hugo Pressman profile image

      Hugo Pressman 

      3 years ago from Brazil

      "Dark and difficult times lie ahead, soon we'll must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy"


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