J.K. Rowling's real name is Joanne Rowling. She was born on July 31, 1965 in Bristol, England. She has a younger sister named Dianne that was born two years after J.K. Her mom, Anne died in 1990 of multiple sclerosis, when J.K. was 25 and her dad works as a manager with Rolls-Royce.
Ms. Rowling knew she wanted to be a writer when she was five or six years old. The first story that she ever wrote was called "Rabbit." It had interesting characters such as a large bee called Ms. Bee. Her family moved twice when Ms. Rowling was growing up. One of their houses was in Bristol in Winterbourne and she had a friend there whose last name was Potter.
After she graduated from high school she attended Exeter University, where she studied French. Then when she was twenty-six years old she moved to Portugal and she became an English teacher. She loved to teach English in the afternoons and evenings so she could work on her writing in the morning. That was when she first started writing about a "Wizard."
Rowling married a journalist who was Portuguese. Soon after that they had a daughter named Jessica. Shortly after the birth of Jessica in 1993 J.K. and her husband divorced. She moved with her daughter to Edinburgh, Scotland. After several rejections J.K. finally sold her book "Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone" for $4000 in U.S. dollars.
To support herself and her daughter, J.K. became a French teacher. She gave up teaching and began writing full time when Scholastic bought the American rights to the first "Harry Potter."
In 1997 she won the British book awards for Children's Book of the Year and the Smarties Prize. Ms. Rowling followed through and wrote sequels such as "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, " "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." Ms. Rowling also writes her books all by hand!
By the summer of 2000, Rowling had sold over 30 million copies of "Harry Potter" books. They are printed in 35 languages. All this has earned over $400 million dollars. Her fourth book pre-sold over one million advanced copies with a first printing of 5.3 million. Ms. Rowling used her initials "J.K." because she was afraid that boys wouldn't read her if they knew a woman wrote them.
Warner Brothers has bought the rights to the first two books. The plan on making them into movies. Maybe one day soon we'll be seeing Harry on the movie screen.
image courtesy of Scholastic
by Olivia and Alice, fourth grade, 2001