Today’s WOD is ♥ ♥ J. K. Rowling (Joanne "Jo" Rowling) born 31 July 1965 in Yate, Gloucestershire, England. She is the author of the wildly popular Harry Potter Series. The Harry Potter series has won multiple awards, sold more than 400 million copies but most importantly she got kids to READ. She caused an overnight sensation with her first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Sorceror's Stone in the United States), which rose to the top of the children's best-seller lists in 1998. Even before publication, publishers in the United States were competing for rights to the book, with the top bidder paying one hundred thousand dollars—the most ever for a first novel by a children's book author. Rowling is perhaps equally famous for her "rags to riches" life story, in which she progressed from living on benefits to multi-millionaire status within five years.
Joanne K. Rowling grew up with a younger sister and an intense interest in storytelling. Rabbits played a large part in her early tales, for Rowling and her sister badly wanted a rabbit. Her first story, at age five or six, involved a rabbit named, quite logically, Rabbit, who got the measles and visited his friend, a giant bee named Miss Bee. Rowling said in J. K. Rowling: The Wizard Behind Harry Potter , "Ever since Rabbit and Miss Bee, I have wanted to be a writer, though I rarely told anyone so. I was afraid they'd tell me I didn't have a hope."
From Tutshill Primary, Rowling went to Wyedean Comprehensive School. A quiet and unathletic child, English was her favorite subject, and she created stories for her friends at lunchtime, tales involving heroic deeds. Contact lenses soon sorted out any feelings of inferiority in the young Rowling; writing became more impulsive and less of a hobby in her teenage years. Attending Exeter University, Rowling studied French after her parents had advised her that bilingualism (speaking two languages) would lead to a successful career as a secretary.
Working at Amnesty International, Rowling discovered one thing to like about life as a secretary: she could use the computer to type up her own stories during quiet times. At age twenty-six, Rowling gave up her office job to teach English in Portugal. It was there that she began yet another story that might become a book, about a boy who is sent off to wizard school. All during the time she spent in Portugal, Rowling took notes on this story and added bits and pieces to the life of her main character, Harry Potter. In Portugal she also met the man who became her husband, and they had a daughter. They later got divorced.
Seven years after graduating from university, Rowling saw herself as "the biggest failure I knew." Her marriage had failed, she was jobless with a dependent child, but she described her failure as liberating:
“Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy to finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one area where I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter, and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life”. – J. K. Rowling, Harvard commencement address, 2008.
Back in England, Rowling decided to settle in Edinburgh and prepared to raise her daughter as a single mother. Accepting a job as a French teacher, she set herself a goal: to finish her novel before her teaching job began. This was no easy task with an active toddler in hand. Rowling confined her writing to her daughter's nap time, much of it spent in coffee-houses where the understanding management allowed her space for her papers. She was able to send off her typed manuscript to two publishers before beginning her teaching post, but it was not until several months later that the happy news arrived: her book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, would be published in England. And then a few months later, the American rights were bought for an amazing price, and Rowling said good-bye to teaching.
In November 2001, Harry Potter gained even more fame when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone graced the big screen as a major motion picture. Rowling's magical creations cast a spell over theatergoers as the movie was both a commercial and critical success. The film was extended to a series of films based on the entire book series, which Rowling had overall approval on the scripts in the series of films as well as maintaining creative control by serving as a producer on the final instalment. Rowling lives in Scotland with her daughter, Jessica, and second husband, Neil Murray, whom she married in December 2000.
In October 2010, J. K. Rowling was named 'Most Influential Woman in Britain' by leading magazine editors. She has become a notable philanthropist, supporting such charities as Comic Relief, One Parent Families, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain, and Lumos.
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