Joan Kathleen Rowling
Born July 31, 1965, in Chipping Sothebury's, Gloucestershire, England. Her sister, Dee, was born two years later. Rowling loved to tell stories from an early age and wrote her first fairy tale when she was 5 or 6 - it was about a rabbit named Rabbit who had measles and had friends visit him with a giant bee named Miss Bee.
As a child, she moved twice. Both times to towns near Bristol: first to Yate, then to Winterbourne. In Winterbourne, she and her sister played with a girl and a boy named Potter. She says she always liked the last name and preferred it to her own because children always teased her about the last name, saying it looked like rowling pins.The family moved again when she was nine years old - to Tutshill near Chepstow in Forest of Dean. She attended elementary school in Tutshill and high school and Wyedean. At the time she was quiet, freckled, nearsighted and terribly unsportsmanlike. Her favorite subjects were English and other languages. She used to tell stories to her friends - where they all performed daring and heroic feats they wouldn't dare to do in real life.
She went to university in Exeter right after high school and studied French, at the insistence of her parents, who said she could make a career as a bilingual secretary. It took her several years to study at university and work as "the world's worst secretary."
In 1991, at the age of 26, she went to Portugal to teach English. She says she loved it. She gave lessons in the afternoons and evenings and composed in the mornings. During this time, she began working on her third novel (the first two were abandoned as "very bad")
First attempt at a pen.
The new book was about a boy who discovers he is a wizard and goes to a magical school.
In Portugal, she met and married a Portuguese journalist. Their daughter, Jessica, was born in 1993. After their divorce, Rowling and her daughter moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, closer to her younger sister Dee.
Rowling set herself the goal of completing a novel about Harry before she started working as a French teacher, and of course, to try to get it published. She wrote on the coffee shop table while Jessica slept.
The Scottish Arts Council gave her a grant to complete the book and, after a series of rejections, she eventually sold Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone to Bloomsbury Publishers (UK) for $4,000.
At this time, Rowling is working as a French teacher (serenading the hallways with the first line from Rawhide, "Rolling, rolling, rolling, keep those wagons rolling...")
A few months later, Arthur A Levin/Educational Literature buys the U.S. rights to the book for enough money to get her to quit teaching.
The book was published in the U.K. in June 1997 (at the time the first edition of this book was written, it had sold £12,000/20,000 U.S. dollars). At this point, recognition came. Harry Potter wins the British award as Book of the Year, and the Smarties Prize.
Rowling says that she was writing Harry Potter when "I was feeling really bad and needed to achieve something. Without challenging myself, I would have gone crazy."
The Harry Potter series is a new star in children's literature. That's not to say that Rowling's books aren't criticized-some Christian fundamentalists worry that the books promote Satanism. On the other hand, fans applaud the books for their courage and honesty and compare them to books such as Clive S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia.