J.K. Rowling - The Story Behind the Magic

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It has been more than 20 years since the first Harry Potter book hit the shelves and the magical saga began. Since then millions of children and adults alike fell under the spell of J.K. Rowling and became part of the Harry Potter generation. The movies that followed introduced the magical world to an even bigger audience. With the new movie in the series being released this month, "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald", we thought it would be a good time to find out more about the woman who brought this world of magic and mystery into our lives. So join us as we explore the story behind the real magician - J.K. Rowling

By Ghmyrtle [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons

Joanne Rowling was born on the 31st of July, 1965 in Yate, Gloucestershire, England. Her parents, Peter James Rowling and Anne Rowling, met on a train from King's Cross Station (sounds familiar?) in 1964. When Rowling was four her family moved to the nearby village Winterbourne to accomodate for the growing family after her sister Dianne was born. Later on they moved to Church Cottage in the Gloucestershire village of Tutshill, where Rowling started writing fantasy stories and read them to her sister.

Mike Faherty [CC BY-SA 2.0], from Wikimedia Commons

After attending St Michael's Primary School and Wyedean School and College, where her English teacher said she was not exceptional but quite good in English, she applied to Oxford but was denied. So she ended up going to Exeter for a BA in French and Classics. She graduated in 1986 after spending a year in Paris. After working for Amnesty International,she moved with her boyfriend to Manchester. It was there, while on a four hour trip from Manchester to London, that the idea of writing of a young boy in a wizarding world came to her. She started writing immedietly when she got home. At the time her mother passed away after a 10 year battle with multiple sclerosis, she has been writing Harry Potter but never got to share him with her. However, her mother's death influenced the story as Rowling channelled her grief into Harry's life by adding the loss of his parents.

Rowling moved to Porto, Portugal to teach English, while still writing whenever she could. While there, she met Jorge Arantes, a Portuguese television journalist, who shared her love to Jane Austen. They got married on 1992 and had their daughter Jessica Isabel Rowling Arantes on 1993. However, the marriage didn't last long, and the couple separated soon after the birth. Rowling moved with her daughter to Edinburgh, Scotland to be close to her sister. At this point she already had three chapters of Harry Potter written.

By Stephen Montgomery from Kallangur[CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Rowling was not in a good place in her life, though she could finally focus on writing. Her diagnosis with clinical depression inspired the Dementors, soul-sucking creatures that appear first in the third book of the Harry Potter series. She signed up for welfare benefits in order support herself and her daughter. She had to get a restraining order after her husband arrived to Scotland, looking for her and his daughter. After completing her first novel, she started a teacher training course in 1995. All the while she has been writing in cafés around the city.

In 1995, Rowling had the first Harry Potter book in her hands, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone". She submitted it to 12 publishing houses, but they all rejected it. A year later, a publishing house in London, Bloomsbury, was finally interested. Though accepting the novel after the 8-year old daughter of the chairman loved it, the editor of Bloomsbury suggested to Rowling to look for another job as no one is making money out of children's books. At first, only 1000 copies were made, half in libraries. Five months later, the book has started winning awards and in an auction in the US for the rights to publish the novel, it was won for $105,000. With that money, Rowling was able to move out of her flat to 19 Hazelbank Terrace in Edinburgh.

By Zack Sheppard from San Francisco [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The books started popping out, one after the other, continuously winning prizes. The Fourth book, realsed in July 2000, broke sales records in both the UK and the US and Rowling was named "Authos of the Year" in the UK that year. The final book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows", was released on July of 2007 and broke the record as the fastest selling book of all time. Rowling's books have been translated into 65 languages. The huge success of the books led to Warner Bros. purchasing the film rights and realsing the first movie in the franchise in November of 2001. In 2004, Forbes named Rowling the first person to become a US-dollar billionaire by writing books and the second richest female entertainer.

Daniel Ogren [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

With all the wizardry in the Harry Potter books, it seems that Rowling's life has been nothing but magical themselves. The amazing success that continues to this day can be seen as out of this world. But the reality is that it is due to the great passion that never left her, the determination to succeed, and the people along the road that gave her a chance. Rowling continues writing and expended into other genres with great success. If you are also mesmerized by the world she created, don't miss the latest film in the series, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, released this month.

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