“It is our choices… that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
Today, 31st of July, can be considered as one of the most remarkable days in the wizarding world. Birth of “the boy who lived” and also, the birth of the creator of the wizarding world makes this day a magical one. She is the one who lightened up the lives of millions of muggle people with a swipe of a wand, which turns out to be her pen. Her unbelievable imagination has opened the doors to an amazing, extraordinary world of magic, love, and friendship. She is none other than the great author of the best-selling book series in history, J. K. Rowling.
Joanne Rowling was born on the 31st of July 1965 in Yate, Gloucestershire as the first child of her family. Her father Peter James Rowling was an aircraft engineer and her mother Anne Volant was a science technician. Rowling has a younger sister called Dianne, to whom she used to read her fantasy stories when they were kids. She had her primary education in St. Michael’s Primary School in Winterbourne and she had her secondary education at Wyedean School and College. She was a bright student at school and also she was the head girl in her year. She was a competent student at the University of Exeter where she earned a BA in French and Classics.
“It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”
According to Rowling, her younger years were not happy because of her mother’s illness and issues with her father. Her mother was suffering from multiple sclerosis for years. Her mother passed away in 1990 when Rowling was working at the Chamber of Commerce in Manchester. She had already started writing her legendary masterpiece “Harry Potter” by then. The idea of a fascinating wizarding world and “the boy who lived” had formed in her head when she was on a four-hour delayed train from Manchester to London. Her mother’s death had caused a major impact on her life and emotions as well as her writing.
Her life was never a bed of roses. After her mother’s death, she moved to Portugal and worked as an English teacher, teaching at night. There she met her first husband Jorge Arantes who was working as a television journalist. They got married in 1992 and had their first daughter Jessica Isabel Rowling Arantes in 1993. But that marriage did not last much longer. They got separated a few months after their daughter’s birth, in 1993 itself. After that, she moved to Edinburgh, Scotland with her child. She was having a tough time; she had lost her job, marriage, and was left alone with a little daughter. Once she has explained herself as “poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless”. Also, she was suffering from clinical depression during those times.
“You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships until both have been tested by adversity.
Her grief and all these hardships of her life since early years; mother’s disease, not having a proper relationship with her father, death of her mother, unemployment, unsuccessful marriage, getting isolated with a toddler, suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts, have played a major role in visualizing her masterpiece creation.
Many characters in the series were inspired by the roles in Rowling’s own life. She shares her own birthday with the central character of this series, “Harry James Potter”. And she has created the character of “Hermione Granger” based on her own younger version. The King’s Cross station that she has chosen as the location of platform 9 ¾ is the place where her parents first met each other. She had got the inspiration for the character of the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, “Albus Dumbledore”, from the headmaster of her primary school. And the “Dementors”, the dark creatures who feed upon the happiness of humans, were influenced by her experience with depression and suicide.
She finished writing the first book of the series, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” by 1995. After that, she started doing a teacher training course at the University of Edinburgh. The manuscript of her book was presented to twelve publishers but she did not receive a chance from those publishers. Finally, in 1997, Bloomsbury Publishers agreed to publish it under the condition of having the author’s name with two initials because they thought that young boys will be reluctant to read a book written by a female author. Joanne Rowling did not have a second name therefore she used her grandmother’s name Kathleen as her second name and published the book under the name “J. K. Rowling”.
The first book of the world’s best-selling book series in history, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” was published in June 1997, with 1000 copies of the book. The book received an unexpected attraction from the audience, winning many awards across the globe. The Scholastic Cooperation won the right to publish it in the USA for US$ 105000, and Rowling has stated that she nearly died when she heard that. In the first book, Rowling writes,
“He’ll be famous — a legend — ……… — there will be books written about Harry — every child in our world will know his name!”
That statement came true, not only in the wizarding world but also in the real (muggle) world.
Following the first book, 6 books were published, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” in 1998, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” in 1999, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” in 2000, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” in 2003, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” in 2005 and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” in 2007. The series has been translated into more than 60 languages all over the world. All 7 books of the series were made into movies under the Warner Bros Entertainment Incorporation and, J. K. Rowling became the first-ever person to be a billionaire by writing books, with each book and movie breaking the records of history.
But she has lost her billionaire status as a result of donating her assets for charity. Rowling has established and contributed to many charity organizations for anti-poverty, children welfare, neurology care (multiple sclerosis), covid 19, etc. “Lumos” (Children’s High-Level Group) is one of such organizations established by her, for children’s welfare. She has used Harry Potter series-related books such as “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”, “Quidditch Through the Ages” and “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” to fundraise for charity.
Her other creations include the concept of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”, original screenplays of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and the “Crimes of Grindelwald”, the novel “Casual Vacancy”, the crime fiction series “Cormoran Strike” under the pen name of “Robert Galbraith”, children stories “The Ickabog” and “The Christmas Pig” and many more non-fictional writings. Also, she launched the web platform “Pottermore” as the digital publisher of the wizarding world in 2011.
In the meantime of fame and success, Rowling married Dr. Neil Murray in 2001, and gave birth to their son, David Gordon Rowling Murray in 2003 and their daughter Mackenzie Jean Rowling Murray in 2005. She has received many awards and honorary degrees from many universities for her great contribution.
“We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all of the power we need inside ourselves already. We have the power to imagine better.”
She sprinkled magic all over the world and enlightened the childhoods of millions of kids. The wizarding world that was born inside her head is something beyond a work of fiction. Generations of children all over the globe grew up, grows up, and will grow up, waiting for their 11th birthday to receive the Hogwarts letter, trying to unlock doors with a wooden stick whispering “Alohomora” and trying to disarm their friends shouting “Expelliarmus”. Her writings were powerful enough to direct people to read even in this age of technology and to motivate billions of individuals to brighten their lives. She proved that the power of imagination we have within ourselves can make a difference in this world.
As a proud member of the “Harry Potter Generation” of J. K. Rowling, I would like to wish her a wonderful birthday filled with love and happiness. May she get everything her heart desires and may this year bring her more and more ideas to write epic stories!
Thank you for brightening our lives with your legendary magical stories always!
Happy Birthday JKR and Harry Potter!!!
(Of course Harry Potter is a character that happened inside Rowling’s head, but why on earth should that mean that he is not real?”
“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
Design by – Shanaka VishwanthaJ. K. Rowling
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