“Never be ashamed! There’s some who’ll hold it against you, but they’re not worth bothering with.”
After writing stories about entrepreneurs and their inspiring journeys replete with dedication, I realized that I couldn’t miss out writing on one of my favourite authors. As a child, I used to keep waiting for the release of Harry Potter fantasy series and yeah… watch every HP movie the very same day it hit the theatres! My sister and I used to read the HP books together and talk about its wizardry world with great exultation. From the nefariousness of Lord Voldemort to the sacrifice of Dobby the House Elf, nothing failed to stir our emotions as the book seemed to take us to a completely different world…the magical world of Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling has certainly given children around the world a legend and a friend in the form of Harry Potter. Here is the story of one of the greatest authors of all time…
You’ve seen her walking down the red carpet with voguish clothes, signing autographs and waving to her fans with a resplendent smile. Many have read stories written by her, but few are aware of her life story.
Joanne Kathleen Rowling was born in a small Gloucestershire town in 1965 and spent most of her early life pursuing creativity. As a child, she used to write fantasy stories and narrate it to her sister. She began writing at the age of 6 with a story called ‘Rabbit’, which she never finished.
In school, she showed great interest for knowledge and literature. After High School, Rowling went to Exeter University where she earned a degree in French. She even studied in Paris for a year and then went back to London where she did a number of jobs and even worked as a secretary for a publishing company where her work was to send out rejection slips.
In the year 1990, her mother died and in order to deal with the grief she left for Portugal to teach English. There she married a television journalist Jorge Arantes but her marriage didn’t last long and was over after eleven months. In the year 1993, she returned back to England with an infant daughter in her arms.
J.K. Rowling started thinking herself as a failure which led to depression. Things were not turning out the way she wanted. Since childhood she had dreamed of being a creative success in literature or any other art form, but her life was neither creative nor successful. All she had was a failed marriage and was living on benefits and social security paychecks. She lived in a mice- infested flat in Edinburgh and fought poverty and depression every day to raise her daughter Jessica.
But Rowling acknowledges that depression and lack of success made success all the more important for her. With nothing more to lose, she decided to not give up on her dreams and create a fantasy world with intriguing characters that she wished to meet when she was a teenager. She sat in cafes, sipping hot coffee and started writing on the manuscript of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ while her daughter slept in a pram.
Although she wrote the manuscript with great fervour, her work was rejected by 9 publishers including Penguin, Transworld and HarperCollins. Finally, Bloomsbury Children’s Books paid her $14,300 for the rights to ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’. The book was published on 30 June, 1997 with her initials because the publisher feared that boys would not be interested to read the book if they knew it was written by a woman. Scholastic Books bought the American rights for $105,000 and the book was published in America as ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’. What happened next is history.
J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is regarded as the best-selling book series of all time, having sold over 450 million copies in 67 different languages. In October 1998, Warner Brothers paid Rowling $ 700,000 to buy the rights to ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ and its sequel ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’.
Harry Potter is now considered a strong global brand with an estimated worth exceeding $ 15 billion. Her last four books of the Harry Potter series have been regarded as the fastest-selling books in history. The Harry Potter fantasy series has also won several book awards. In the year 2001, her annual earnings were about $34 million and her name was mentioned in the list of highest earning celebrities.
J.K. Rowling has been supporting charity since many years and has even established the Volant Charitable Trust to help those suffering from poverty and social inequality. In an interview she said “I think you have a moral responsibility when you’ve been given far more than you need, to do wise things with it and give intelligently.”
From being a depressed single mother to becoming one of the world’s most renowned and wealthy celebrities, J.K. Rowling is the perfect example of an against the odds success. Her story teaches us to never give up on our dreams even in sombre days of life. I guess sometimes passion provides enough fuel to continue the drive.