From ‘Rags to Riches’; it’s seems this phrase was written to describe the best-selling author of Harry Potter, which is unsurprisingly worth £7billion globally. Following news that Durham University is offering a module titled ‘Harry Potter and the Age of Illusion’ it seems only appropriate to discover how J.K. Rowling achieved her great success.
When people think of all things British, it can only be presumed that many cast their thoughts to the world of Hogwarts. J.K. Rowling, once a poor and desperate woman, commenced her quest, alongside Harry Potter, to fight off the dark wizard and followers of Black Magic back in 1990.
Joanne Rowling was dubbed ‘the clever one’ from her infancy while her younger sister, Di, took the label as ‘the pretty one.’ It was with Di that Joanne developed her love for story telling which she jokes about saying “sometimes I didn’t even have to sit on her to make her stay and listen.”
In 1983, J.K. Rowling began her studies at the University of Exeter. She admits studying French was a mistake and would have rather studied English, a subject her parents dubbed a “but-where-will-it-lead? degree.”
On graduating she worked at Amnesty International and later moved to Manchester with her then-boyfriend in 1990. It was here whilst waiting for a delayed train that her life, as well as those of children and adults across the world, would unknowingly change forever when the idea of a ‘scrawny, black-haired bespectacled boy’ was conceived, she notes.
The reality of the void in Harry’s life due to his deceased parents was furthered by the untimely death of Rowling’s mother in December 1990. This mutual grief is mirrored in the author’s favourite chapter ‘The Mirror of Erised’ in the Philosopher’s Stone. Her mother is who Rowling applauses for her success saying it was “because I loved her”. She later moved to Portugal to teach English while continuing her Harry Potter sequence; here she had her daughter Jessica. In 1993 the single-mother moved to Edinburgh continuing teaching alongside her writing commitments.
In 1996 Christopher Little confirmed he would represent Rowling as her agent, changing her life. Her career began to take off from this point subsequently resulting in Bloomsbury offering to publish the books. This same company foolishly advised the OBE star author to get a day job as her success if children’s novels was doubted. The 1997 copies of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone are now valued at between £16,000 and £25,000
Despite this modest and uncertain start Rowling has proceeded to be recognised as the 12th richest woman in the UK by the Sunday Times in 2008. She has won countless awards giving her the acclaim she truly deserves including honorary degrees from universities such as Edinburgh and Harvard, in addition to the British Book Award for Children’s Book of the Year and the Whitbread Children’s Book of the Year, to name a few. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was the fastest selling book of 2007.
Future works by J.K. Rowling’s are unconfirmed with a rumoured Harry Potter Encyclopaedia and other children’s novels. The one question on everybody’s lips though; will Harry Potter continue in another novel? Rowling revealed on Oprah Winfrey’s show this is a possibility.
Regardless of her future, Rowling can be gratified with the knowledge that she lead a revolution through her fantastically imaginative quests which are responsible for sparking an interest in reading amongst children who were abandoning books for PC games.