Joanne Rowling

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Biography of Joanne Rowling, sympathetic British author who achieved surprising publishing success with her “Harry Potter” novels.

The first novel was followed by six others. The “Harry Potter” series has been one of the literary phenomena in history.

Joanne Rowling, creator of the character Harry Potter

At the beginning of 1994, an unknown Joanne Rowling had been writing this fantastic novel, with an old typewriter.

She did it sitting at the table in an Edinburgh cafe, while taking care of her young daughter, Jessica.

The novel tells the adventures and adventures of Harry Potter, an orphan boy, with magical powers and capable of escaping at will to a fantasy world.

The first book was titled “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” The set of books sold by Joanne Rowling until the end of 2008, exceeds 500 million copies.

The Harry Potter novels were made into a movie, and have been huge at the box office.

Harry Potter
The young Daniel Radcliffe, protagonist of the Harry Potter films. Credit: Time Magazine website

Biographical information of the writer Joanne Rowling

Joanne Rowling was born in a small town, near Bristol, in the southwest of England.

She was born on July 31, 1965. Two years later, in 1967, her parents, Peter Rowling and Anne Volant, had their second daughter, Dianne.

Peter Rowling was an engineer for the Rolls-Royce company. Anne Volant was Scottish.

Joanne calls herself Jo, saying that when she was little no one called her Joanne, unless they were mad at her. They called her sister Di.

Due to her father’s work, the family soon moved to Winterbourne. This is a large town also close to Bristol.

Winterbourne Main Street, 2008. Credit: Wikipedia

Joanne attended an elementary school in town, Saint Michael’s School.

Joanne’s first director at St. Michael, Alfred Dunn, is believed to have inspired the character of “Albus Dumbledore,” the powerful and kind-hearted wizard from the Harry Potter series.

As a child, Joanne Rowling enjoyed writing fantastic stories.

When she was five or six years old, she made up the story of a bunny that had measles and was visited by her friends and by a giant bee.

As a teenager, her great-aunt gave her an old copy of Jessica Mitford’s autobiography. Joanna then read all the books written by Jessica Mitford.

This British writer and journalist (1917-1996) became her hero.

Joanne Rowling attended high school at the Wyedean School.

Sean Harris, her best friend, owned a turquoise Ford Anglia. Joanne was inspired by that Ford, to describe a car that appears in one of her books.

Literary beginnings of the author of Harry Potter

In Winterbourne, another of Joanne and Dianne’s friends was named Ian Potter.

When Joanne started writing her first novel, she borrowed that last name to give life to her famous fictional character.

A few years later, the Rowlings moved to a rural area of ​​Gwent County called the Forest of Dean.

There in the field, the two sisters enjoyed the pleasure of playing in the field and walking near a river.

But, at the new school that Joanne and Dianne attended, one of the teachers became a subtle enemy of Joanne.

The hated professor Mrs. Morgan, went on to embody one of the most evil characters in the Harry Potter novels.

However, Joanne Rowling was a diligent student.

Possessing a prodigious imagination, she became famous for her love of telling stories to a small circle of friends, who listened carefully to her narration of long stories at recess times.

Studies and beginnings of her professional career

In 1982, Joanne Rowling failed to enroll at Oxford University.

Then, on the advice of her father, she studied French and classical philology at the University of Exeter.

The city of Exeter, one of the oldest cities in Great Britain. Credit: web

After obtaining the double degree, she continued with a year of studies in Paris, in order to master French.

She then moved to London.

In the capital, she got a job as a bilingual researcher and secretary at Amnesty International.

As an Amnesty International official, she participated in investigative work on human rights violations in French-speaking Africa.

Beginning of her literary career

One day in June 1990, she had to travel by train from Manchester to London; On the way, the train had problems and the trip was delayed for 4 hours.

During that long wait, she came up with the idea of inventing “a school of witches and wizards.

Suddenly, the idea of a boy who did not know he was a wizard came to her mind until he received an invitation to attend a magic school.

The plot began with Harry Potter, and then all the characters and situations came to the fore in her head.

As soon as Joanne entered her apartment, she began to write what she had been imagining while waiting on the train.

Unfortunately, in those months her mother passed away, as a result of multiple sclerosis that had affected her for 10 years.

Joanne Rowling was deeply saddened, dropped everything and went to teach English abroad.

It was 1990, and Joanne Rowling was 25 years old when she went to Portugal.

Joanne Rowling’s marriage

In Porto, Joanne Rowling fell in love with Jorge Arantes, a journalist from Portuguese television.

They were married in October 1992.

Soon after, they had a daughter who Joanne Rowling named Jessica, after Jessica Mitford.

Unfortunately, alcoholism and Jorge Arantes’s infidelities made Joanne Rowling leave him in November 1993.

The mother and daughter moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, to be close to Dianne Rowling, Joanne’s sister.

Immediately, in March 1994, Joanne Rowling began the judicial process to obtain a restraining order against Jorge Arantes.

In August 1994, she formally filed for divorce, which was granted.

All these months were very hard for young Joanne Rowling. But her daughter Jessica gave her the strength not to bend.

Jobless and living on state subsidies, Joanne Rowling completed her first novel by writing in various cafes.

She went to those places because taking her baby for a walk was the best way to put her to sleep.

It is interesting to remember another young Scottish mother who, a century earlier, under similar family circumstances, emigrated to the USA as a maid and ended up being one of the most outstanding astronomers at Harvard.

Her name was Williamina Fleming.

Williamina Fleming
Young Williamina Fleming, American astronomer, of Scottish origin Credit: web

History of the first Harry Potter novel

In 1995, Joanne Rowling finished her original for “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” on her old typewriter.

She decided to go to the agency “Christopher Little Literary Agents” to represent her in the search for a publisher who would like to publish her novel.

This agency commissioned one of its readers (Bryony Evans) to do a first reading of the first three chapters of Joanne Rowling’s original.

In the face of the enthusiastic response from Bryony Evans, the agency “Christopher Little Literary Agents” agreed to represent Joanne Rowling in the search for a publisher.

Initially, they sent the book to twelve publishers, all of which rejected the manuscript.

A year later, in 1996, the president of a small British publishing house in London received a copy of the book.

The publisher’s name was Barry Cunningham and he ran the Bloomsbury Publishing House.

Seeing that the novel was a fantastic story, Barry Cunningham commissioned his eight-year-old daughter (Alicia Newton) to read the first chapter.

The girl devoured the writing and immediately asked her father for the second chapter.

This had a decisive influence on the fact that in 1997 the Bloomsbury Publishing House agreed to publish 1,000 copies of the book.

And she offered an advance of £ 1,500 to Joanne Rowling.

The novel for children was titled “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.”

Five months later, the book won the “Nestlé Children’s Book Award.”

Soon after, the novel won the prestigious ‘British Book Award‘, in the Children’s Book of the Year category, and later, the ‘Best Children’s Book Award‘.

In the United States, this first novel by Joanne Rowling was published under the title “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

Harry Potter novels go to the movies

In October 1998, Warner Bros bought the film rights to the first two “Harry Potter” novels.

On November 16, 2001, the first film version of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” was released.

The continuation of the Harry Potter stories

Joanne Rowling had made a spectacular leap to world fame as a writer of children’s novels.

Barry Cunningham and the Bloomsbury Publishing House lacked time to plead with Joanne Rowling to allow the publication of her second novel.

  • The second novel was titled “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.” It was published in July 1998.
  • Just over a year later, in December 1999, the third novel, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” was published. This one won the “Best Children’s Book Award“. Joanne Rowling was the first person to win the award three times, and over 300,000 copies were sold in Britain in one year.
  • Joanne Rowling and Barry Cunningham delayed the release of the fourth Harry Potter novel, to allow time for the first three to spread. The fourth book, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire“, was released simultaneously in the United Kingdom and in the United States, on July 8, 2000. This fourth novel broke sales records in both countries. In Britain 775 copies of the book were sold on the first day. In the United States, the book sold three million copies in the first 48 hours, breaking all records for book sales.
  • The publication of the fifth novel took about three years. It was in 2003 and it bore the title of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.”
  • The sixth book, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” came out on July 16, 2005. It also broke sales records, selling nine million copies in the first 24 hours on the market.
  • The seventh and last Harry Potter book “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” was released on July 21, 2007. Only in the UK and the USA, 11 million copies were sold on the first day launch.
HarryPotter actors
The three main actors in the Harry Potter films: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. Credit: Wikipedia

Harry Potter” became a global trademark, valued at approximately £ 7 billion.

The series has been translated into 74 languages, as the Harry Potter books sparked interest in reading among young people.

Harry Potter Movies

The movie “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone“, released on November 16, 2001, was quickly followed by the film version of the second novel “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.”

  • On June 4, 2004 the film based on the third novel, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban“, was released.
  • The movie “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire“, version of the fourth novel, was released on November 18, 2005.
  • Two years later, in July 2007, the “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” movie was released. It corresponded to the fifth novel.
  • The film version of the sixth novel, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” was released on July 15, 2009.
  • The last book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows“, was divided into two parts, one of which was released on November 19, 2010 and the other on July 15, 2011.

In drafting the contract, the production company Warner Bros (Warner Brothers Pictures) took into account the wishes and opinions of Joanne Rowling.

One of the main stipulations, was that the films had to be shot in Great Britain with a totally British cast.

Joanne Rowling was especially involved in the choice of the main characters.

She chose Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) and Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley).

The Coca-Cola company was the winner of the contest for providing products to the film series.

To do this, Joanne Rowling demanded that they donate 18 million dollars to the American foundation “Reading is Fundamental.

The Harry Potter films were a worldwide success in their ten-year premiere of the different adaptations of each of the seven books.

Joanne Rowling
Joanne Rowling agrees to participate in internet forums with the young fans of her series. Credit: web

After ending the Harry Potter series, Joanne Rowling continued to write children’s books. Among them:

  • Fantastic beasts and where to find them
  • The crimes of Grindelworld
  • The Tales of Beedle the Bard

Her overflowing imagination and her passion for the magical world of children has notably enriched fantasy literature.

Joanne Rowling also wrote adult novels

She still writes under the pseudonym J. K. Rowling.

This pseudonym was because, before publishing the first novel, Bloomsbury Publishing House feared that readers would be reluctant to buy books written by a woman.

They asked her to use two initials and not her first name.

As a second initial, she chose the letter K in honor of her paternal grandmother Kathleen.

Her first adult novel, “Un unexpected vacancy,” was published in September 2012.

In April 2013, she published her second book for adults, “The song of the cuckoo”, in which she ventures into the black genre.

Current situation of the writer Joanne Rowling

More than 20 years have passed since little Alice Newton had the unexpected privilege of being the first girl in the world to read the first two chapters of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.”

It can be said that this 8-year-old daughter of editor Barry Cunningham was essential to the beginning of Joanne Rowling’s meteoric career.

From being a complete stranger, struggling financially and living on a modest pension as an unemployed person, Joanne Rowling became a wealthy and popular woman.

In Europe and especially in the United States, crowds of children accompanied by their parents endured long lines in bookstores, to get hold of the latest adventures of the little magician.

Since then, Joanne Rowling is the first person to earn a billion US dollars from writing books.

She is currently the second richest female artist in the world.

In 2001, she bought a luxurious 19th century estate near the River Tay in Aberfeldy, Scotland.

She also owns a house in Edinburgh, and a £ 4.5 million mansion in Kensington, West London.

Joanne Rowling’s marriage to Neil Murray

On December 26, 2001, Joanne Rowling married Neil Michael Murray (born June 30, 1971), a medical anesthetist.

They had two children: David (born March 24, 2003) and Mackenzie (born January 23, 2005).

Jessica, the daughter she had with the Portuguese Arantes, has always lived with Joanne.

Little Jessica was a silent witness to the early Harry Potter novels.

Joanne Rowling has received numerous awards and honors.

In 2003, in Oviedo, the capital of Asturias, she became the first writer to receive the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord.

Campoamor Theater
At the Campoamor Theater in Oviedo, the Prince of Asturias Awards are awarded every year. Credit: Jaime Escobar, amateur photographer.

There is no doubt that her greatest reward has been the hundreds of thousands of children who have enjoyed reading the Harry Potter books and movies.

Click here if you want to see this biography in Spanish translation.

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