J K Rowling Biography & Facts
Joanne Rowling ( ROH-ling; born 31 July 1965), better known by her pen name J. K. Rowling, is a British author, philanthropist, film producer, television producer, and screenwriter. She is best known for writing the Harry Potter fantasy series, which has won multiple awards and sold more than 500 million copies, becoming the best-selling book series in history. The books are the basis of a popular film series, over which Rowling had overall approval on the scripts and was a producer on the final films. She also writes crime fiction under the pen name Robert Galbraith.
Born in Yate, Gloucestershire, Rowling was working as a researcher and bilingual secretary for Amnesty International in 1990 when she conceived the idea for the Harry Potter series while on a delayed train from Manchester to London. The seven-year period that followed saw the death of her mother, birth of her first child, divorce from her first husband, and relative poverty until the first novel in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, was published in 1997. There were six sequels, of which the last was released in 2007. Since then, Rowling has written several books for adult readers: The Casual Vacancy (2012) and—under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith—the crime fiction Cormoran Strike series. In 2020, her "political fairytale" for children, The Ickabog, was released in instalments in an online version.Rowling has lived a "rags to riches" life in which she progressed from living on benefits to being named the world's first billionaire author by Forbes. Rowling disputed the assertion, saying she was not a billionaire. Forbes reported that she lost her billionaire status after giving away much of her earnings to charity. Her UK sales total in excess of £238 million, making her the best-selling living author in Britain. The 2021 Sunday Times Rich List estimated Rowling's fortune at £820 million, ranking her as the 196th richest person in the UK. Time named her a runner-up for its 2007 Person of the Year, noting the social, moral, and political inspiration she has given her fans. Rowling was appointed a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) in the 2017 Birthday Honours for services to literature and philanthropy. In October 2010, she was named the "Most Influential Woman in Britain" by leading magazine editors. Rowling has supported multiple charities, including Comic Relief, One Parent Families, and Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain, as well as launching her own charity, Lumos. Since late 2019, Rowling has publicly voiced her opinions on transgender people and related civil rights. These views have been criticised as transphobic by many LGBT rights organisations and some feminists, but have received support from some individuals and organisations.
Although she writes under the pen name J. K. Rowling, before her remarriage, her name was Joanne Rowling. Her publishers asked that she use two initials rather than her full name, anticipating the possibility of the target audience of young boys not wanting to read a book written by a woman. As she had no middle name, she chose K (for Kathleen) as the second initial of her pen name, from her paternal grandmother. She calls herself Jo. Following her remarriage, she has sometimes used the name Joanne Murray when conducting personal business. During the Leveson Inquiry, she gave evidence under the name of Joanne Kathleen Rowling and her entry in Who's Who lists her name also as Joanne Kathleen Rowling.
Life and career
Birth and family
Joanne Rowling was born on 31 July 1965 in Yate, Gloucestershire, to Anne (née Volant), a science technician, and Peter James Rowling, a Rolls-Royce aircraft engineer. Her parents first met on a train departing from King's Cross Station bound for Arbroath in 1964. They married on 14 March 1965. One of Rowling's maternal great-grandfathers, Dugald Campbell, was a Scottish man from Lamlash. Her mother's French paternal grandfather, Louis Volant, was awarded the War Cross for exceptional bravery in defending the village of Courcelles-le-Comte during World War I. Rowling originally believed Volant had won the Legion of Honour during the war, as she said when she received it herself in 2009. She later discovered the truth when featured in an episode of the UK genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are? in which she found out it was a different Louis Volant who won the Legion of Honour. When she heard her grandfather's story of bravery and discovered that the War Cross was for "ordinary" soldiers like her grandfather, who had been a waiter, she stated the War Cross was "better" to her than the Legion of Honour.
Rowling's sister Dianne was born at their home when Rowling was 23 months old. The family moved to the nearby village of Winterbourne when Rowling was four. As a child, Rowling often wrote fantasy stories which she frequently read to her sister. Aged nine, Rowling moved to Church Cottage in the Gloucestershire village of Tutshill, close to Chepstow, Wales. When she was a young teenager, her great-aunt gave her a copy of Jessica Mitford's autobiography, Hons and Rebels. Mitford became Rowling's heroine, and Rowling read all of her books.Rowling has said that her teenage years were unhappy. Her home life was complicated by her mother's diagnosis with multiple sclerosis and a strained relationship with her father, with whom she is not on speaking terms. Rowling later said that she based the character of Hermione Granger on herself when she was eleven. Sean Harris, her best friend in the Upper Sixth, owned a turquoise Ford Anglia which she says inspired a flying version that appeared in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Like many teenagers, she became interested in rock music, listening to the Clash, the Smiths, and Siouxsie Sioux, adopting the look of the latter with back-combed hair and black eyeliner, a look that she still sported when beginning university.
As a child, Rowling attended St Michael's Primary School, a school founded by abolitionist William Wilberforce and education reformer Hannah More. Her headmaster at St Michael's, Alfred Dunn, has been suggested as the inspiration for the Harry Potter headmaster Albus Dumbledore. She attended secondary school at Wyedean School and College, where her mother worked in the science department. Steve Eddy, her first secondary school English teacher, remembers her as "not exceptional" but "one of a group of girls who were bright, and quite good at English". Rowling took A-levels in English, French and German, achieving two As and a B and was head girl.Rowling earned a BA in French and Classics at the University of Exeter. Martin Sorrell, a French professor at Exeter, remembers "a quietly competent student, with a denim jacket and dark hair, who, in academic terms, gave the appearance of doing what was necessary". Rowling recalls doing little work, preferring to read Dickens and Tolkien. After a year.... Discover the J K Rowling popular books. Find the top 100 most popular J K Rowling books.