About J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling’s books delight their target audience of nine- to twelve-year-olds. But the complex plotting and subtle otherworldly messages also appeal to adults, who see in them mirrors of their childhood fears and dreams. Her inclusion of fantastic and mythical elements heightens the clash between good and evil.
Joanne Rowling (born 1965), who writes under the pen names J.K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith, is a British novelist and screenwriter best known for writing the best-selling Harry Potter fantasy series.
The rags-to-riches arc of her personal story is a progress from living on state benefits to enjoying the status of a multi-millionaire within five years. The drama of that account belies the normal circumstances of her upbringing in southwestern England and Wales, where as a child, she wrote fantasy stories that she often read to her sister. She grew up surrounded by books and has described herself as a bookworm. From an early age, she aspired to be a writer.
The idea for Harry Potter first came to Rowling in 1990 while delayed on a train for four hours. Over the next five years, she outlined the series’ seven books, writing mostly in longhand and gathering a blizzard of notes, many of which were on scraps of paper.
After Rowling finished the first book and was training as a teacher, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was accepted for publication by Bloomsbury and quickly became a bestseller when it was published in 1997. The Harry Potter series books have since broken many records.
They are now published in 78 languages, and have sold more than 450 million copies around the world. In 2007, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows became the fastest-selling book ever, selling 2.65 million in the first 24 hours in the UK.
A leading academic described Rowling’s Potter series as “the narrative experience of an entire generation.” It is a cultural phenomenon that charms, thrills, and entertains its readers with intriguing plots and complex subplots. Its whimsy and dry humor attract children and adults alike with it combination of friendship, adventure, and the dizzying balance of good and evil, even if good appears ambiguous at time.
Rowling has created the “Harry Potter effect.” The enthusiasm that children feel reading the Potter series opens a gateway to an enduring love of reading. In an American survey, three out of four children said that reading a Harry Potter book has interested them in reading other books, too.
In 2012, Rowling began a new writing career targeted at adults, including a series of detective stories.
Rowling has contributed money and support to notable charities such as Comic Relief, One Parent Families, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain, and Lumos, among others. She was appointed Dame of the British Empire in 2000.