Monday, July 4, 2011

J K Rowling a British author, Once a Single Parent, Philanthropist - rags to riches - HARRY POTTER : Deathly Hallows

Photo: Jonathan Lodge 

J K Rowling is a British author with a fascinating account of "rags to riches" life story, in which she progressed from living on benefits to multi-millionaire status within five years. In the 2008 Sunday Times Rich List Rowling was named as the 144th richest person in Britain. 

Once a single parent herself fighting poverty and depression struggled to raise her baby daughter on a welfare cheque of 70 pounds a week.   She sat in cafés nursing an espresso for 2 hours at a time and worked feverishly on the manuscript of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ while her baby daughter slept in a pram. 

Seven years after graduating from university, Rowling saw herself as "the biggest failure I knew." Her marriage had failed, she was jobless with a dependent child, but she described her failure as liberating:

Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything than what I was, and began to direct all my energy to finishing the only work that mattered to me.

Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one area where I truly belonged.

I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter, and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”..J. K. Rowling.

Below is her commencement speech to Harvard graduates in 2008;

.........Nobody who has ever experienced the reality of poverty could say “it’s not the money, it’s the message”. 

  • When your flat has been broken into, and you cannot afford a locksmith, it is the money.
  • When you are two pence short of a tin of baked beans, and your child is hungry, it is the money.
  • When you find yourself contemplating shoplifting to get nappies, it is the money.
  • If Mr Cameron’s (JK Rowling attacked Cameron and his ‘New Tories) only practical advice to women living in poverty, the sole carers of their children, is “get married, and we’ll give you £150”, he reveals himself to be completely ignorant of their true situation.
How many prospective husbands did I ever meet, when I was the single mother of a baby, unable to work, stuck inside my flat, night after night, with barely enough money for life’s necessities?
Should I have proposed to the youth who broke in through my kitchen window at 3 am?

Half a billion pounds, to send a message – would it not be more cost-effective, more personal, to send all the lower-income married people flowers? ........


Ms Rowling developed Harry Potter's world as a means of escape. In 1990, while she was on a four-hour-delayed train trip from Manchester to London, the idea for a story of a young boy attending a school of wizardry "came fully formed" into her mind. She told The Boston Globe that "I really don't know where the idea came from. It started with Harry, then all these characters and situations came flooding into my head." When she had reached her Clapham Junction flat, she began to write immediately. 

However, in December of that year, Rowling's mother died, after her ten-year battle with multiple sclerosis. Rowling commented, "I was writing Harry Potter at the moment my mother died. I had never told her about Harry Potter." Rowling said this death heavily affected her writing and that she introduced much more detail about Harry's loss in the first book, because she knew about how it felt.

A Scottish Arts Council grant helped her to pay for a typewriter and she hammered out the manuscript which would eventually convince the publisher Bloomsbury that Potter could be a hit; the manuscript is said to have been rejected by three British publishers – Penguin, Transworld and HaperCollins.

Fearing that the target audience of young boys might not want to read a book written by a woman, her publishers demanded that she use two initials, rather than her full name. So she chose the K for Kathleen, her grandmother, as her middle initial.

The first print run only had 1000 books of which 500 were sent to libraries. But the book started winning awards (the first three books won the Nestle Smarties award three years in a row), and the publishing rights in the US was picked up by Scholastic Press for £100,000. Joanne Rowling when she heard the news, nearly fainted. 
Released globally in 93 countries, Deathly Hallows broke sales records as the fastest-selling book ever. It sold 15 million copies in the first 24 hours following its release, including more than 11 million in the U.S. and UK alone. 

The previous record, 9 million in its first day, had been held by Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The novel has also been translated into over 120 languages, including Ukrainian, Swedish, and Hindi.

In 1998, Warner Bros, bought the movie rights to the franchise for an undisclosed 7 figure sum.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final novel in the series, is split into two feature-length parts. Part 1 was released in November 2010 and Part 2 will be released on 15 July 2011.

Latest updates:

Final Harry Potter film shatters box-office records

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" sold a staggering $476 million in tickets around the world over the weekend, and $168.6 million in tickets in North America alone — the biggest opening weekend in history

Fans took pictures during a meeting with the "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" cast members on July 12 in Paris. (Patrick Kovarik/AFP/Getty Images)

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” the last film in the best-selling wizarding series, opened in the U.S. on Friday, after premiering in London on July 7.

In 2000, Rowling established the Volant Charitable Trust, which uses its annual budget of £5.1 million to combat poverty and social inequality. The fund also gives to organisations that aid children, one parent families, and multiple sclerosis research.
Rowling said;

"I think you have a moral responsibility when you've been given far more than you need, to do wise things with it and give intelligently."

In 2001, the UK anti-poverty fundraiser Comic Relief asked three bestselling British authors  to submit booklets related to their most famous works for publication.

Rowling's two booklets since going on sale in March 2001,   have raised £15.7 million for the fund. The £10.8 million they have raised outside the UK have been channeled into a newly created International Fund for Children and Young People in Crisis.

In 2001, Rowling purchased a luxurious 19th-century estate house, Killiechassie House, on the banks of the River Tay, near Aberfeldy, in Perth and Kinross, Scotland.

Rowling also owns a home in Merchiston, Edinburgh, and a £4.5 million Georgian house in Kensington, West London, on a street with 24-hour security.

In October 2010, J. K. Rowling was named 'Most Influential Woman in Britain' by leading magazine editors. 

·       Forbes has named Rowling as the first person to become a U.S.-dollar billionaire by writing books,
·       the second-richest female entertainer and
·       the 1,062nd richest person in the world.

When first listed as a billionaire by Forbes in 2004, Rowling disputed the calculations and said she had plenty of money, but was not a billionaire.

Source :
More here.

The Guardian,
Shiv Malik Monday 4 July 2011

Harry Potter author JK Rowling leaves her agent - (here)
Author who recently launched Pottermore website for electronic books had worked with Christopher Little since 1996

Is Pottermore Good for Harry? (here);  Lev Grossman , June 23, 2011


  1. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful post with us. This is amazing and I loved reading it with appreciation. The words of Rowling on Money are really so very true!
    Btw, thank you for your kind comment on my cauliflower-lychee curry post. I am so happy that you liked it! Shall come here often for more interesting reads!

  2. Dear Purabi
    JK Rowling is an exceptional woman, did you listen to her speech? Very inspirational!

    My kids each have their own set of her books, too precious to them, they even refused to share! (Bought using their own pocket money).

    What a sensational and wonderful lady.

    You too should publish your recipes, they are exceptional, I will definitely get a copy!

  3. hi Katrina, wow! only 5 short years, rowlings turned from benefits to a millionaire… and I have been trying for 10 long years ha ha.

    I like her saying “Failure is stripping away the inessential.” Thanks for sharing her many inspirational experiences. Have a nice day...

  4. JK Rolling is like a ideal for all those women who are single because she is the one who work hard and reached the position where she is right now. Few years back she was the one who don't have any thing to eat for her and her child but she worked hard and now shown the world what she is capable of.

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