J. K. Rowling Biography

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Author/Context

J.K. Rowling (1966-?)

Born in a small town in England called Chipping Sodbury on July 31, 1966, Joanne Kathleen Rowling found her calling early in life, discovering hobbies in solitary reading and writing. She never wanted to do anything except write for herself or write for others, irregardless of publication. As a child, Rowling held many of the characteristics that she based her title character, including a short, squatty body, with thick horn-rimmed glasses, with the feeling of an outsider. When she grew up and out of her awkward stage, she attended Exeter University, abandoning a brief desire to become a ballerina. After school, Rowling worked as a teacher to make ends meet before she was married. However, marriage was not as successful as her impending writing career, and after a divorce that left her impoverished and unemployed, Rowling began to write in cafes in Scotland, watching over her infant daughter. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone began as a personal project written in longhand. In due time (and with a little grant from the Scottish Arts Council), Harry Potter took off after its first publication in 1998, winning such awards as The British Book Awards Children's Book of the Year and the Smarties Prize.

Rowling began the Harry Potter books after her divorce, taking five years to complete the first installment, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. However, she claims that it took five years because of the intense planning of the sequential books. There are seven books in the Harry Potter series, each of which are published around the world, including Britain, America, Brazil, Holland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Czechoslovakia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Japan. When the time came to publish Harry Potter in the United States, Rowling and the publishers realized that the name needed a slight alteration. Rowling came up with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, changing a possibly confusing "Philosopher" for "Sorcerer." Since its initial publication, Rowling has gone from an unknown, unpublished author to one of the best-selling, most renowned children's writers in English language history. Her books rival C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia and the Beatrix Potter series, both writings that Rowling loves and reads to her own daughter. Rowling intends to continue her Harry Potter series, following Harry's studies and training at the wizard's school, Hogwarts, from age 11-17, with each book corresponding with a year of Harry's life.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone has transcended popular culture, being made into a movie in 2001, merchandised throughout toy stores, and plans to continue in its successful film form for the next three books.

According to Rowling, Harry Potter is a genuine character that holds true to many of her personal ideals and goals. "The idea that we could have a child who escapes from the confines of the adult world and goes somewhere where he has power, both literally and metaphorically, really appealed to me."

J.K. Rowling lives in Edinburgh, Scotland with her daughter, Jessica.


Profile | J.K. Rowling. 26 June 2002.

Harry Potter: Meet J.K. Rowling. 26 June 2002.

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Bloomsbury Publishing Plc: London, 1999.

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