J.K. Rowling is one of the most popular authors in the world. She gained great renown after the publication of her phenomenal book series about a boy wizard called Harry Potter. The relevance of the Harry Potter series has increased in popular culture over time and her book sales have made her one of the richest authors in the world.
- Joanne Rowling was born on 31 July 1965 in Yate, Gloucestershire.
- Her mother Anne Volant was a science technician, and her father, Peter James Rowling, was an aircraft engineer. She has a sister named Dianne.
- Her mother suffered from Multiple Sclerosis and died in December 1990, when Rowling was in the process of writing the first Harry Potter book.
- Rowling married Jorge Arantes, a journalist from Portugal in October 1992, and they had a child named Jessica. Rowling and Arantes separated in November 1993.
- ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone‘, Rowling’s first book, was published on 26 June 1997 in London.
- Rowling married Neil Murray, a doctor from Scotland on 26 December 2001.
- She has two children from her second marriage to Neil Murray, a son, David Gordon Rowling Murray, born in 2003, and a daughter Mackenzie Jean Rowling Murray, born in 2005.
- Joanne Rowling was suggested to give herself a name that sounded like that of a male author to increase sales. She, therefore, chose her grandmother Kathleen’s name as a middle name. Hence the initials J K.
- Her parents met each other on a train leaving King’s Cross Station to Arbroath in 1964. King’s Cross is the place where Harry Potter boards the Hogwarts Express for the first time.
- J K Rowling first conjured the idea of Harry Potter on a train journey between Manchester and London in 1990.
- Rowling’s mother suffered from Multiple Sclerosis and died in December 1990, without knowing about Rowling’s ideas about Harry Potter which were in development then.
- J K Rowling is known for her extensive philanthropy. She has contributed significantly to several causes like Multiple Sclerosis, Single Motherhood, Child Welfare, Poverty, etc.
- Jessica Mitford, a champion of civil rights, has been Rowling’s role model since the age of 14. Rowling has cited Jane Austen as her greatest writing influence.
Famous Books by J.K. Rowling
The Harry Potter Series – The Harry Potter series is one of the most popular book series in the world, spanning 7 books, 8 movies, several books and stories about the world of magic, a sequel play, video games, and a wide variety of merchandise. It follows the story of a boy wizard named Harry Potter who along with his friends faces a lot of perils and adventures in the seven years he studies at Hogwarts, a school of magic.
‘The Casual Vacancy’ – The Casual Vacancy is the first book that J K Rowling wrote after finishing all the books in the Harry Potter series. This was also the first book written by J K Rowling targeting adult readers. Set in a town in the suburbs called Pagford, the plot of this novel follows the events that occur after the death of a Parish Councillor named Barry Fairbrother.
The Cormoran Strike Series – The Cormoran Strike series is a series of books written by Rowling under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith. She started this series with the first book called Cuckoo’s Calling. The books follow the exploits of a Royal Military Police Veteran named Cormoran Strike as he tries to solve mysterious crimes. To date, there have been five books written in the series.
‘The Ickabog’ – The Ickabog is one of the most recent works of J K Rowling. It was published in 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and proceeds from Rowling’s royalties were donated to the cause of the pandemic. ‘The Ickabog’ is a children’s tale set in the land of Cornucopia, a fictitious place. The Ickabog is a monster that dwells in the marshes of the north of Cornucopia which is underdeveloped compared to the south, which is a thriving land.
Early Life and Education
Rowling was born Joanne Rowling on 31 July 1965 in Gloucestershire. She developed an interest in writing from a very early age. Her sister Dianne was born two years after her. One of her great grandfathers on her mother’s side was of Scottish descent, from the village of Lamlash. Another one of her great grandfathers, Louis Valant, was of French descent and was awarded the War Cross for exceptional services in protecting the village of Courcelles-le-Comte during the first world war.
Rowling went to Saint Michael’s Primary School and later attended Wyedean School and College for her secondary education. She showed an early aptitude for languages and the arts in general as was later recalled by some of her teachers there. She was also the Head Girl in her final year. She went to the University of Exeter and obtained a Bachelors’s Degree in French and Classics.
She was inspired heavily by the activist Jessica Mitford after hearing about her from a great aunt. Like her hero, she too wanted to actively contribute to society and joined as a bilingual assistant and researcher for Amnesty International. After her mother’s death from Multiple Sclerosis, she moved to Portugal where she taught English as a second language and eventually met her first husband.
Rowling has been interested in writing as a hobby from a very early age. Rowling recalls writing stories at age 6 and reading them to Dianne, her younger sister. The earliest of her stories was about Dianne falling down a hole and meeting a family of rabbits that feed her strawberries.
Rowling didn’t give her writing career much thought until a boy wizard magically materialized in her imagination. She later named him Harry Potter and was very passionate about penning down his story. Her continued perseverance to finish ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ despite several major setbacks is what landed her the best opportunity to hone her talent as a writer. Her mother’s death, divorce from her first husband, initial unemployment, and living as a single mother on state welfare were all channeled by her into Harry’s despair and his worst experiences.
She eventually finished the book in 1995, and with the help of very skillful agents, the Christopher Little Agency, she was able to get a publication deal with Bloomsbury. ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ was published by Bloomsbury in 1997 in London. Scholastic later published it in the USA under the title ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’.
She went on to write six more books about Harry Potter and later a play ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child‘ for which she collaborated with the screenwriters’ Jack Thorne and John Tiffany. The Harry Potter series went on to become a worldwide phenomenon with millions of children and adults alike storming into bookstores worldwide every time a new book would be published. She also worked as a consulting member for the movies adapted from these books. Furthermore, Rowling has written several other books connected to the Harry Potter series, like ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,’ a fictitious prescribed textbook for Harry’s classes. Other such books include ‘Quidditch through the Ages’ and ‘Tales of Beedle the Bard‘. Rowling is currently working on the stories for a prequel movie series to the Harry Potter Series called ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ named after the textbook mentioned above. Several characters like Albus Dumbledore appear as their younger selves in this series.
Besides the Harry Potter series and related literary works, Rowling has also written a few other books including ‘The Casual Vacancy,’ which came out in 2012, and the Cormoran Strike series, which has had 5 books so far. Rowling has also written some other books like ‘The Ickabog and The Christmas Pig’.
After the very positive reception of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,’ J.K. Rowling became an overnight celebrity, gaining fans and followers all over the world. She spent a lot of time writing all the books of the series and taking care of her daughter Jessica. The entire series attained her further fame and renown. She married her second husband, Neil Murray in a small private ceremony in Scotland in the year 2001. They had two children after that. Rowling started the Volant Charitable Trust to counter issues like poverty and social inequality. She has also been an extensive and active philanthropist donating to a wide variety of causes. However, in the year 2020, she was widely criticized for making comments that are unwelcome of voluntary gender identity for trans women.
Literature by J.K. Rowling
Explore literature by J.K. Rowling below, created by the team at Book Analysis.