Perhaps you don’t recognize the name because this author was warned by her prospective publisher that the young boys who were her target audience might not want to read a book written by a woman. He recommended that she use initials to disguise her gender. Since she had no middle name, she chose “K” as her second initial for her pen name. She became J.K. Rowling whom you may now recognize is the author of the internationally famous Harry Potter books.
Joanne was born in 1965 in Gloucestershire, England, and attended St. Michael’s Primary School where her headmaster, Alfred Dunn, became the model for Harry Potter’s headmaster.
As a child, Joanne Rowling wrote fantasy stories which she would read to her younger sister. One of these was about her sister falling down a rabbit hole where she was fed strawberries by the rabbits inside. This was an early sign of the creative imagination that Joanne had. As she continued through secondary schooling, she accumulated images of characters she later used as images she wrote about in her Harry Potter books.
After her schooling, Joanne moved to Portugal where she taught English as a second language. There she met and married Portuguese television journalist Jorge Arantes. A daughter was born to the couple before Joanne was diagnosed with clinical depression and contemplated suicide. This may have contributed to having her husband divorce her.
Through all of this period, Joanne saw herself as “the biggest failure I know.” Her marriage had failed, she was jobless with a depende
nt child. She felt she had reached rock bottom. While just surviving, she started working on a novel. When it was finished, it was submitted to 12 publishing companies all of which rejected it. By persisting, she finally got approval from a smal
l publishing house in London. An interesting one-person survey contributed to the acceptance of the manuscript. It seems that the first chapter of the book was given to the chairman of the publishing company’s eight- year-old daughter. She read it and immediately asked for the next chapter.
With the publishing of the first book and acceptance by a publishing firm in the United States, things began to turn around. Sales increased and recognition awards came in rapid order. By the time her fourth book was published simultaneously in England
and the United States, it broke sales records in both countries. Some 372,775 copies were sold the first day in England and three million copies in the U.S. in the first 48 hours. The books have now been translated into 65 languages and Harry Potter movies are showing throughout the world. Movie rights came on top of that.
Now Joanne Rowling is sharing her multi-million dollar income through charities benefitting all kinds of worthwhile causes. Joanne Rowling continues to provide us with an example of persistence, thoughtfulness, modesty and many other sterling chara
cteristics. She was truly years in the making and continues to live an exemplary life.
Gregory B. Anderson–director