Author - J. K. Rowling
J. K. Rowling, after receiving an honorary
degree from The University of Aberdeen
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Bibliography of J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter Books
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (June
26, 1997; titled
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in the United
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (July 2,
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (July
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (July 8,
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (June
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (July 16,
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (July
Other books by J. K.
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
(supplement to the Potter series) (2001)
- Quidditch Through the Ages (supplement to the
Potter series) (2001)
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard (never published,
but publicly displayed by Amazon.com) (2007)
Articles by J. K.
- "The First It Girl: J.K. Rowling reviews Decca: the
Letters of Jessica Mitford ed by Peter Y Sussman",
The Daily Telegraph 26 July 2006
- Introduction to "Ending Child Poverty" in Moving
Britain Forward. Selected Speeches 1997-2006 by Gordon
Brown, Bloomsbury (2006)
- Foreword to the anthology Magic, edited by Gil
McNeil and Sarah Brown, Bloomsbury (2002)
J. K. Rowling - Autograph and Signature Samples
Biograhpy of J. K. Rowling
Joanne "Jo" Murray, née Rowling
OBE (born 31 July 1965), who writes under the pen name J.
K. Rowling, is a British writer and
author of the Harry Potter fantasy series. The
Potter books have gained worldwide attention, won
multiple awards, and sold nearly 400 million
copies. The 2007 Sunday Times Rich
List estimated Rowling's fortune at £545 million,
ranking her as the 136th richest person and the 13th
richest woman in Britain. Forbes has named Rowling the
second-richest female entertainer in the world the 48th most powerful celebrity of
2007. Time magazine named Rowling
as a runner up for their 2007 Person of the Year noting
the social, moral, and political themes in her books and
her inspired fandom.
Rowling has also gained recognition for sparking an interest
in reading among the young at a time when children were thought
to be abandoning the book for the computer and the
television. She has become a notable
philanthropist, supporting such charities as Comic Relief,
the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain and One
Harry Potter is now a global brand worth an estimated
$15 billion (£7 billion), and the last four Harry
Potter books have consecutively set records as the
fastest-selling books in history. The series, totalling 4,195
pages, has been translated, in whole or
in part, into 65 languages.
Although she writes under the pen name "J. K.
Rowling" she actually has no middle
name, hence her full name when her first Harry
Potter book was published was simply "Joanne Rowling".
Before publishing her first book her publisher Bloomsbury
feared that the target audience of young boys might be
reluctant to buy books written by a female author. It
requested that Rowling use two initials, rather than
reveal her first name. As she had no middle name, she
chose K. for Kathleen as the second initial of her
pseudonym, from her paternal grandmother. The name
Kathleen has never been part of her real name. Following her marriage,
her legal name is Joanne Murray. She calls herself "Jo" and
claims, "No one ever called me 'Joanne' when I was young,
unless they were angry."
Rowling was born to Peter James Rowling and Anne Rowling née
Volant on 31 July 1965 in Yate, Gloucestershire, England
10 miles (16.1 km) northeast of
Bristol. Her sister Dianne (Di)
was born at their home when Rowling was 23 months
old. The family moved to the
nearby village Winterbourne when Rowling was four. She
attended St Michael's Primary School, a school founded almost 200 years
ago by famed abolitionist William Wilberforce and education reformer Hannah
More. Her elderly headmaster at St. Michaels, Alfred Dunn,
was claimed as the inspiration for the Harry Potter
character Albus Dumbledore.
As a child, Rowling enjoyed writing fantasy stories, which
she often read to her sister. "I can still remember me telling
her a story in which she fell down a rabbit hole and was fed
strawberries by the rabbit family inside it", she recalls,
"Certainly the first story I ever wrote down (when I was five
or six) was about a rabbit called Rabbit. He got the measles
and was visited by his friends, including a giant bee called
At the age of nine, Rowling moved to the Gloucestershire
village of Tutshill, close to Chepstow, South
Wales. When she was a young
teen, her great aunt, who Rowling said "taught classics
and approved of a thirst for knowledge, even of a
questionable kind", gave her a very old copy of
Jessica Mitford's autobiography, Hons and
Rebels. Mitford became Rowling's
heroine, and Rowling subsequently read all of her
She attended secondary school at Wyedean School and College.
Rowling has said of her adolescence, "Hermione is loosely based
on me. She's a caricature of me when I was 11, which I'm not
particularly proud of." Sean Harris, her best friend in
the Upper Sixth owned a turquoise Ford Anglia, which she
says inspired the one in her books. "Ron Weasley isn't a
living portrait of Sean, but he really is very
Sean-ish." Of her musical tastes of the time,
she said "My favorite group in the world is The Smiths.
And when I was going through a punky phase, it was The
Clash." Rowling read for a BA in French
and Classics at the University of Exeter, which she says
was a "bit of a shock" as she "was expecting to be amongst
lots of similar people– thinking radical
thoughts." Once she made friends with
"some like-minded people" she says she began to enjoy
herself. With a year of study in
Paris, Rowling moved to London to work as a researcher and
bilingual secretary for Amnesty International.
In 1990, while she was on a four-hour-delayed train trip
from Manchester to London, the idea for a story of a young boy
attending a school of wizardry "came fully formed" into her
mind. "I really don't know where the
idea came from", she told the Boston Globe, "It
started with Harry, then all these characters and
situations came flooding into my head." When she had reached
her Clapham Junction flat, she began to write
However, in December of that year, Rowling’s mother
succumbed to a 10-year battle with multiple
sclerosis. Rowling commented, "I
was writing Harry Potter at the moment my mother
died. I had never told her about Harry
Potter." Rowling said this death
heavily affected her writing and that she introduced much
more detail about Harry's loss in the first book, because
she knew about how it felt.
Rowling then moved to Porto, Portugal to teach English as a
foreign language. While there, on 16
October 1992, she married Portuguese television journalist
Jorge Arantes. Their one child, Jessica
Isabel Rowling Arantes (named after Jessica Mitford), was
born on 27 July 1993 in Portugal. They separated in November
1993. In December 1994, Rowling and her
daughter moved to be near her sister in Edinburgh,
Scotland. During this period
Rowling was diagnosed with clinical depression. It was the
feeling of her illness which brought her the idea of
Dementors, soulless creatures featured in Harry
Potter. Unemployed and living on state
benefits, she completed her first novel. She did her work
in numerous cafés (e.g. Nicolson's Café and Elephant House
Café), whenever she could get Jessica to fall
asleep. In a 2001 BBC interview,
Rowling denied the rumour that she wrote in local cafés to
escape from her unheated flat, remarking, "I am not stupid
enough to rent an unheated flat in Edinburgh in midwinter.
It had heating." Instead, as she stated on
the American TV program, A&E Biography, one of
the reasons she wrote in cafés was because taking her baby
out for a walk was the best way to make her fall
Harry Potter books
In 1995, Rowling finished her manuscript for Harry Potter
and the Philosopher's Stone on an old manual
typewriter. Upon the enthusiastic response of
Bryony Evans, a reader who had been asked to review the
book’s first three chapters, the Fulham-based Christopher
Little Literary Agents agreed to represent Rowling in her
quest for a publisher. The book was submitted to twelve
publishing houses, all of which rejected the
manuscript. A year later she was
finally given the green light (and a £1500 advance) by
editor Barry Cunningham from Bloomsbury, a small British
publishing house in London, England. The decision to publish
Rowling's book apparently owes much to Alice Newton, the
eight-year-old daughter of Bloomsbury’s chairman, who was
given the first chapter to review by her father and
immediately demanded the next.
Although Bloomsbury agreed to publish the book, Cunningham
says that he advised Rowling to get a day job, since she
had little chance of making money in children’s
books. Soon after, Rowling received an
£8000 grant from the Scottish Arts Council to enable her
to continue writing. The following spring, an auction
was held in the United States for the rights to publish
the novel, and was won by Scholastic Inc., for $105,000.
Rowling has said she “nearly died” when she heard the
In June 1997, Bloomsbury published Philosopher’s
Stone with an initial print-run of one thousand copies,
five hundred of which were distributed to libraries. Today,
such copies are valued between £16,000 and
£25,000. Five months later, the book won
its first award, a Nestlé Smarties Book Prize. In
February, the novel won the prestigious British Book Award
for Children’s Book of the Year, and later, the Children’s
Book Award. In October 1998, Scholastic published
Philosopher’s Stone in the US under the title of
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: a change
Rowling claims she now regrets and would have fought if
she had been in a better position at the time.
In December 1999, the third novel, Harry Potter and the
Prisoner of Azkaban, won the Smarties Prize, making Rowling
the first person to win the award three times
running. She later withdrew the fourth
Harry Potter novel from contention to allow other
books a fair chance. In January 2000, Prisoner of
Azkaban won the inaugural Whitbread Children’s Book of
the Year award, though it lost the Book of the Year prize
to Seamus Heaney’s translation of
The fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,
was released simultaneously in the UK and the US on 8 July
2000, and broke sales records in both countries. Some 372,775
copies of the book were sold in its first day in the UK, almost
equalling the number Prisoner of Azkaban sold during its
first year. In the US, the book sold
three million copies in its first 48 hours, smashing all
literary sales records. Rowling admitted that she
had had a moment of crisis while writing the novel;
"Halfway through writing Four, I realised there was a
serious fault with the plot ... I've had some of my
blackest moments with this book ... One chapter I rewrote
13 times, though no-one who has read it can spot which one
or know the pain it caused me." Rowling was named author of the
year in the 2000 British Book Awards.
A wait of three years occurred between the release of
Goblet of Fire and the fifth Harry Potter novel,
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. This gap led
to press speculation that Rowling had developed writer's block,
speculations she fervently denied. Rowling later admitted that
writing the book was a chore. "I think Phoenix could have
been shorter", she told Lev Grossman, "I knew that, and I
ran out of time and energy toward the end."
The sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood
Prince, was released on July 16, 2005. It too broke all
sales records, selling nine million copies in its first 24
hours of release. While writing, she told a fan
online, "Book six has been planned for years, but before I
started writing seriously I spend two months re-visiting
the plan and making absolutely sure I knew what I was
doing." She noted on her website that the
opening chapter of book six, which features a conversation
between the Minister of Magic and the British Prime
Minister, had been intended as the first chapter first for
Philosopher's Stone, then Chamber of Secrets
then Prisoner of Azkaban. In 2006, Half-Blood Prince
received the Book of the Year prize at the British Book
The title of the seventh and final Harry Potter book
was revealed 21 December 2006 to be Harry Potter and the
Deathly Hallows. On 1 February 2007 Rowling wrote
on a bust in her hotel room at the Balmoral Hotel in
Edinburgh that she had written the seventh book in that
room on 11 January 2007. Harry Potter and the Deathly
Hallows was released on 21 July 2007 (0:00 BST) and
broke its predecessor's record as the fastest-selling book
of all time. It sold 11 million copies in
the first day of release in the United Kingdom and United
States. She has said that the last
chapter of the book was written "in something like 1990",
as part of her earliest work on the entire
series. During a year period
when Rowling was completing the last book, she allowed
herself to be filmed for a documentary which aired in
Britain on ITV on 30 December 2007. It was entitled J K
Rowling... A Year In The Life and showed her returning
to her old Edinburgh tenement flat where she lived, and
completed the first Harry Potter book. Re-visiting the flat for
the first time reduced her to tears, saying it was "really
where I turned my life around completely."
Harry Potter films
In October 1998, Warner Bros. purchased the film rights to
the first two novels for a seven-figure sum. A film version of Harry Potter
and the Philosopher's Stone was released on 16
November 2001, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of
Secrets on 15 November 2002. Both were directed by Chris
Columbus. 4 June 2004 saw the release of the film version
of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,
directed by Alfonso Cuarón. The fourth film, Harry
Potter and the Goblet of Fire, was directed by yet
another new director, Mike Newell, and released on 18
November 2005. The film of Harry Potter
and the Order of the Phoenix was released on 11 July
2007. David Yates was its director,
and Michael Goldenberg its screenwriter, having taken over
the position from Steven Kloves. Harry Potter and the
Half-Blood Prince is in pre-production, scheduled for
release on 21 November 2008. David Yates will direct again,
and Kloves will return to screenwrite it. Harry Potter and the Deathly
Hallows is expected to be released sometime in
In contrast to the treatment of most authors by Hollywood
studios, Warner Bros took considerable notice of Rowling's
desires and thoughts when drafting her contract. One of her
principal stipulations was the films be shot in Britain with an
all-British cast, which has been adhered to
strictly. In an unprecedented move, Rowling
also demanded that Coca-Cola, the victor in the race to
tie-in their products to the film series, donate $18
million to the American charity Reading is Fundamental, as
well as a number of community charity programs.
The first four films were scripted by Steve Kloves; Rowling
assisted him in the writing process, ensuring that his scripts
did not contradict future books in the series. She has said
that she told him more about the later books than anybody else
(prior to their release), but not everything. She has also said that she told
Alan Rickman (Snape) and Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid) certain
secrets about their characters before they were revealed
in the books. She was also asked by Daniel
Radcliffe (Harry Potter) if Harry died and Rowling
answered him by saying, "You have a death scene", thereby
not explicitly answering the question. Steven Spielberg was approached to
direct the first film, but dropped out. The press has
repeatedly claimed that Rowling played a role in his
departure, but Rowling stated that she has no say in who
directs the films and would not have vetoed Spielberg if
she had. Rowling's first choice for the
director had been Monty Python member Terry Gilliam, as
she is a fan of his work. Warner Bros. wanted a more
family friendly film, and eventually they settled on Chris
After Harry Potter
Rowling has stated that she plans to continue writing after
the publication of the final Harry Potter book, Harry
Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and that she will most
likely not use a new pen name as the press would quickly
discover her identity. In 2006, Rowling revealed that she
had finished writing a few short stories and another
children's book (a "political fairy story") about a
monster, aimed at a younger audience than Harry
She is not planning to write an eighth Harry Potter
book, stating, "I can't say I'll never write another book about
that world just because I think what do I know, in ten years'
time I might want to return to it but I think it's
unlikely." However, Rowling has said she will
be writing an encyclopedia of Harry Potter's
wizarding world consisting of various unpublished material
and notes. Any profits from such a book would
be given to charity. During a news conference at
Hollywood's Kodak Theatre in 2007, Rowling, when asked how
the encyclopedia was coming along, said, "It's not coming
along, and I haven't started writing it. I never said it
was the next thing I'd do." As of the end of 2007, Rowling has
said that the encyclopedia could take up to ten years to
complete, stating "There is no point in doing it unless it
is amazing. The last thing I want to do is to rush
In July 2007, Rowling said that she wants to dedicate "lots"
of her time to her family, but is currently "sort of writing
two things", one for children and the other for
adults. She did not give any
details about the two projects but did state that she was
excited because the two book situation reminded her of
writing the Philosopher's Stone, explaining how she
was then writing two books until Harry took
over. She stated in October 2007 that
her future work was unlikely to be in the fantasy genre,
explaining, "I think probably I've done my fantasy....it
would be incredibly difficult to go out and create another
world that didn't in some way overlap with Harry's or
maybe borrow a little too much from Harry." In November 2007, Rowling said
that she was working on another book, a "half-finished
book for children that I think will probably be the next
thing I publish."
Forbes has named Rowling as the first person to
become a U.S.- dollar billionaire by writing
books, and ranked her as the 891st
richest person in the world. When first listed as a billionaire
by Forbes in 2004, Rowling disputed the
calculations and said she has plenty of money, but was not
a billionaire. In 2001, Rowling purchased a
luxurious 19th-century estate house, Killiechassie House,
on the banks of the River Tay, near Aberfeldy, in Perth
and Kinross, Scotland. Rowling also owns a home in
Merchiston, Edinburgh, and a £4.5 million ($9 million)
Georgian house in Kensington, West London, on a street with 24-hour
On 26 December 2001, Rowling married Neil Michael Murray
(born 30 June 1971), an anaesthetist, in a private ceremony at
her Aberfeldy home. This was a second marriage for
both Rowling and Murray, as Murray had previously been
married to Dr. Fiona Duncan in 1996. Murray and Duncan
separated in 1999 and divorced in the summer of 2001.
Rowling and Murray's son David Gordon Rowling Murray was
born on 24 March 2003. Shortly after Rowling began
writing Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince she
took a break from working on the novel to care for him in
his early infancy. Rowling's youngest child, daughter
Mackenzie Jean Rowling Murray, to whom she dedicated
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, was born 23
Rowling is a member of the Church of Scotland. She once
said, "I believe in God, not magic." Early on she felt that if readers
knew of her Christian beliefs, they would be able to
"guess what is coming in the books." Rowling has stated that she
struggles with her own beliefs. In an interview with the
Today Show in July 2007, she said, "...until we
reached Book Seven, views of what happens after death and
so on...would give away a lot of what was coming. So …
yes, my belief and my struggling with religious belief and
so on I think is quite apparent in this book."
Rowling has commented on her political views only when she
discussed the 2008 United States presidential election with the
Spanish-language newspaper El País. She said she is
"obsessed with the United States elections" because "it will
have a profound effect on the rest of the world". As of
February 2008, she has said that both Barack Obama and Hillary
Clinton would be "extraordinary" in the White House. In the
same interview, she also said her hero was Robert F.
Relationship with the
Rowling has had a difficult relationship with the press. She
admits to being "thin-skinned" and dislikes the fickle nature
of reporting. "They went in one day from
saying, 'She’s got writer’s block' to saying, 'She's been
self-indulgent'", she told The Times in 2003, "And
I thought, well, what a difference 24 hours
makes." However, Rowling disputes
her reputation as a recluse who hates to be
interviewed. In 2001, the Press
Complaints Commission upheld a complaint by Rowling over a
series of unauthorised photographs of her with her
daughter on the beach in Mauritius published in OK!
Magazine. In 2007 Rowling lost a court fight
to ban publication of a photograph of her young
son. The photo was taken by a
photographer who used a long-range lens which subsequently
published in a Sunday Express article featuring
Rowling's family life and motherhood.
Rowling has said she particularly dislikes the British
tabloid The Daily Mail, which made references to a
stalker Rowling insists does not exist, and conducted
interviews with her estranged ex-husband. As one journalist noted,
"Harry's Uncle Vernon is a grotesque philistine of violent
tendencies and remarkably little brain. It is not
difficult to guess which newspaper Rowling gives him to
read [in Goblet of Fire]."
Some have speculated that Rowling's fraught relationship
with the press was the inspiration behind the character Rita
Skeeter. However, Rowling noted in 2000 that the character
actually predates her rise to fame: "People have asked me
whether Rita Skeeter was invented [to reflect Harry
Potter's popularity], but in fact she was always
planned." "I tried to put Rita in
Philosopher's Stone- you know when Harry walks into
the Leaky Cauldron for the first time and everyone says,
"Mr Potter you're back!", I wanted to put a journalist in
there. She wasn't called Rita then but she was a woman.
And then I thought, as I looked at the plot overall, I
thought, that's not really where she fits best, she fits
best in Four when Harry's supposed to come to terms with
In 2000, Rowling established the Volant Charitable Trust,
which uses its annual budget of £5.1 million to aid women and
children, and to combat poverty and social inequality. The fund
also gives to organizations that aid children, one parent
families, and multiple sclerosis research. Rowling 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
Rowling, once a single parent herself, is now president of
the charity One Parent Families, having already become their
first Ambassador in 2000. Rowling collaborated with Sarah
Brown, wife of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a book
of children's stories to aid One Parent
In 2001, the UK anti-poverty fundraiser Comic Relief asked
three bestselling British authors – cookery writer and TV
presenter Delia Smith, Bridget Jones creator Helen Fielding,
and Rowling – to submit booklets related to their most famous
works for publication. Rowling's two booklets,
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and
Quidditch Through the Ages, are ostensibly
facsimiles of books found in the Hogwarts library. Since
going on sale in March, 2001, the books have raised £15.7
million ($30 million) for the fund. The £10.8 million ($20
million) they have raised outside the UK have been
channeled into a newly created International Fund for
Children and Young People in Crisis.
In 2005, to improve the lot of vulnerable children in
eastern Europe, Rowling and MEP Emma Nicholson founded the
Children's High Level Group. In January 2006, Rowling went to
Bucharest to highlight the use of caged beds in children's
mental institutions. To further support the CHLG,
Rowling auctioned one of seven handwritten and illustrated
copies of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a series of
fairy tales referred to in Harry Potter and the Deathly
Hallows. The book was purchased for £1.95 million by
on-line bookseller Amazon.com on 13 December
2007. Rowling commented "This will mean
so much to children in desperate need of help. It means
Christmas has come early to me." Rowling will give away the
remaining six copies to those who have a close connection
with the Harry Potter books.
Rowling has contributed money and support for research and
treatment of multiple sclerosis, from which her mother died in
1990. In 2006, Rowling contributed a substantial sum toward the
creation of a new Centre for Regenerative Medicine at Edinburgh
University. On 1 August and 2 August 2006 she
read alongside Stephen King and John Irving at Radio City
Music Hall in New York City. Profits from the event were
donated to the Haven Foundation, a charity that aids
artists and performers left uninsurable and unable to
work, and the medical NGO Médecins Sans
Frontières. In May 2007, Rowling gave
$495,000 to a reward fund of over $4.5 million for the
safe return of a young British girl, Madeleine McCann, who
disappeared in Portugal. Rowling, along with Nelson
Mandela, Al Gore, and Alan Greenspan, wrote an
introduction to a collection of Gordon Brown's speeches,
the proceeds of which are donated to the Jennifer Brown
heads birthday honours list. BBC News. 17 June 2000.
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