J. K. Rowling

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

(Redirected from J.K. Rowling)
Jump to: navigation, search

Joanne Rowling OBE (Joanne Kathleen Rowling is not her legal name; see below for the explanation) (born 31 July 1965), commonly known as J. K. Rowling (pronunciation: role-ing, as in rolling stone) is an English fiction writer. Rowling is most famous as author of the Harry Potter fantasy series, which has gained international attention, won multiple awards and sold a reported 300 million copies worldwide as of 2005. In February 2004, Forbes magazine estimated her fortune as £576 million (just over US$1 billion), making her the first person to become a US dollar billionaire by writing books. Rowling is also believed to be the wealthiest woman in the United Kingdom, well ahead of even Queen Elizabeth II, but this is unproven as the Queen's personal fortune is hidden in 'The Bank of England Nominees' making her fortune known to only her closest officials.[1] [2]


Early life

J. K. Rowling was born in the General Hospital at Chipping Sodbury, near her parents' home in Yate, Gloucestershire, England in 1965. Together with her mother, father, and younger sister, Diana, she moved to Winterbourne, Bristol and then to Tutshill near Chepstow. She attended secondary school at Wyedean Comprehensive, where she told stories to her fellow students. In 1990, her 45-year-old mother succumbed to a decade-long battle with multiple sclerosis.

After studying French and Classics at Exeter University, with a year of study in Paris, she moved to London to work as a researcher and bilingual secretary for Amnesty International. During this period she had the idea for a story of a young boy attending a school of wizardry while she was on a four-hour, delayed train trip between Manchester and London. When she had reached her destination, she already had the characters and a good part of the plot for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in her head, which she began working on during her lunch hours.

Rowling then moved to Oporto, Portugal, to teach English as a foreign language. While there she married Portuguese television journalist Jorge Arantes on 16 October 1992. They had one child, Jessica Rowling Arantes (born 27 July 1993), before their divorce in 1995.

In December, 1994, she and her daughter moved to be near her sister in Edinburgh. Unemployed and living on state benefits, she completed her first novel, doing some of the work in an Edinburgh cafe (there is a widely circulated rumour that she wrote in a local café in order to escape from her unheated flat — but according to the author this is false). Rowling spent a year studying for a PGCE in modern languages at Moray House (now part of the University of Edinburgh), graduating in 1996.

Harry Potter

The first Harry Potter novel
The first Harry Potter novel

Main article: Harry Potter

Six of the seven volumes of the Harry Potter series, one for each of Harry's school years, have already been published and they have all been bestsellers.

Before publishing the first volume, Bloomsbury feared that the target group of young boys might be reluctant to buy books written by a female author. They requested that Rowling use two initials, rather than reveal her first name; because she had no middle name, she chose Kathleen, her grandmother's name.

The first book was an unexpectedly huge success. Combined with her earnings for the next three books, she became a billionaire. In 2001, she purchased a luxurious 19th-century mansion, Killiechassie House, on the banks of the River Tay in Perthshire, Scotland, where she married her second husband, Dr. Neil Murray, on 26 December 2001.

The fifth book, titled Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, was delayed by an unsuccessful plagiarism suit directed towards her by rival author Nancy Stouffer (see below). Rowling took some time off from writing at this point, because during the process of writing the fifth book she felt her workload was too heavy. She said that at one point she had considered breaking her arm to get out of writing, because the pressure on her was too much. After forcing her publishers to drop her deadline, she enjoyed three years of quiet writing, commenting that she spent some time working on something else that she might return to when she is finished with the Harry Potter series.

The Harry Potter books

The last two purport to be facsimiles of books mentioned in the novels. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a textbook, while Quidditch Through the Ages is probably the most popular book in the Hogwarts library. They are complete with handwritten annotations and scribblings in the margins, and include introductions by Albus Dumbledore. All proceeds from them go to the UK Comic Relief charity. She has contributed money and support to many other charitable causes, especially research and treatment of multiple sclerosis, from which her mother died in 1990. This death heavily affected her writing, according to Rowling.

Harry Potter movies

A film version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was released in late 2001 and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in 2002.

A darker atmosphere was adopted in the film version of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, attributed to the new director, Alfonso Cuarón. Rowling, who was a fan of Cuarón's work prior to the third film, has stated that the third film is her personal favourite.

November 18 2005 will mark the release date of the fourth film, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Alfonso Cuarón was offered the chance to direct this installment in the series, but declined as he would still be working on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Director Mike Newell decided against the studio's original idea of adapting the 734 page book into two separate films to be released several months apart, believing that he could cut enough of the book's bulky subplots to make a workable film. The Dursleys were cut from the film due to time constraints, as was Molly Weasley. Mike Newell is the first British director of the series.

Rowling resisted suggestions by the filmmakers that the movies should be filmed in the United States or cast with American actors (only one American appears in the first film). She only reluctantly agreed with changing Philosopher's Stone to Sorcerer's Stone and limited that change to the United States. Rowling's insistence on British actors for the main roles resulted in Steven Spielberg passing on the opportunity to direct the series.

Rowling assists Steve Kloves in writing the scripts for the films, ensuring that his scripts do not contradict future books in the series. She says she has told him more about the later books than anybody else, but not everything. She has also said that she has told Alan Rickman and Robbie Coltrane certain secrets about their characters that are not yet revealed.


Rowling has been involved in several lawsuits over the Harry Potter series, and other litigation has been suggested or rumoured.

Nancy Stouffer

In the late 1990s Nancy Stouffer, an author of children's books published in the 1980s, began to charge publicly that Rowling's books were based on her books, including The Legend of Rah and the Muggles and Larry Potter and His Best Friend Lilly. In 2001 Rowling, Scholastic Press (the American publisher of her books) and Warner Bros. (the producer of the film adaptations) sued Stouffer, asking the court to judge that there was no infringement of Stouffer's trademarks or copyright. Stouffer, who had not previously sued, then filed counterclaims alleging such infringement.

Rowling and her co-litigants argued that much of the evidence that Stouffer presented was fraudulent, and asked for sanctions and attorneys' fees as punishment. In September 2002 the court found in Rowling's favour, stating that Stouffer had lied to the court and falsified and forged documents to support her case. Stouffer was fined US$50,000 and ordered to pay part (but not all) of the plaintiffs' costs.

In January 2004 it was reported that Stouffer's appeal against the judgement had been rejected. The appeals court agreed that Stouffer's claims were properly dismissed because "no reasonable juror could find a likelihood of confusion as to the source of the two parties' works". The Court explained:

Stouffer's and Plaintiffs' marks are used in two very different ways. Rowling's use of the term "Muggles" describes ordinary humans with no magical powers while Stouffer's "Muggles" are tiny, hairless creatures with elongated heads. Further, the Harry Potter books are novel-length works and whose primary customers are older children and adults whereas Stouffer's booklets appeal to young children. Accordingly, the District Court correctly dismissed Stouffer's trademark claims.

Stouffer was also ordered to pay the costs of the appeal. A report of the judgement can be found at Entertainment Law Digest. The 2002 judgement can be found here: ROWLING v. STOUFFER

New York Daily News

On 19 June 2003 Rowling and her publisher Scholastic announced that they would sue the New York Daily News for $100 million because the newspaper had printed information on her work Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix before the book's official release date. The novel was due for release on Saturday 21 June, but the newspaper published a plot summary and short quotes on the previous Wednesday. An accompanying image even revealed two pages from the book with legible text. However, the story was complicated further when it was revealed that the paper had purchased the book from a health store whose owner received the novels wholesale and decided to place them in the window. The man claimed he was unaware he was supposed to wait until that Saturday.

The People's Republic of China

In 2003, unauthorised Chinese-language "sequels" to the Harry Potter series, such as Harry Potter and Leopard-Walk-Up-to-Dragon, appeared for sale in the People's Republic of China. These poorly-written books (written by Chinese ghost writers) contain characters from the works of other authors, including Gandalf from J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and the title character from L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Rowling's lawyers successfully took legal action against the publishers, who were forced to pay damages.

After Harry

JKR on The Simpsons
JKR on The Simpsons

In late 2003, she was approached by television producer Russell T. Davies to contribute an episode to the British television science-fiction series Doctor Who. Although she was "amused by the suggestion", she turned the offer down, as she was busy working on the next novel in the Potter series. On 20 December 2004 she announced that the sixth Harry Potter book would be released on 16 July 2005.

Rowling has also made a guest appearance as herself on the American cartoon show The Simpsons, in a special British-themed episode entitled "The Regina Monologues".

In a July 2005 interview with the MuggleNet and Leaky Cauldron websites, J. K. Rowling revealed that she is a great admirer of Aaron Sorkin's work on the American TV show The West Wing.


On 26 December 2001, Rowling married Dr. Neil Murray (an anaesthetist) in a private ceremony at her home in the Perthshire village of Aberfeldy. On 23 March 2003, Rowling gave birth to her second child, a boy called David Gordon Rowling Murray, at the Simpson Centre for Reproductive Health at the New Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh. On 23 January 2005, Rowling's second child with Dr. Murray was born, fulfilling Rowling's lifelong wish to have three children. The baby girl was named Mackenzie Jean Rowling Murray. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is dedicated to her.

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:

Personal tools