The woman, the legend… the creator (or mother, if you will) of Harry Potter.
J.K. Rowling is UK’s best-selling living author and on the Forbe’s list of the World’s Top-Earning Authors. It’s been 21 years since Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, hit British bookshops with an initial print run of 500 copies. This series has since grown into a $25bn cultural empire (including theme parks, tours, theatre shows, toys, etc.) and amassed millions of fans world-wide.
It’s hard to imagine that 21 years ago, this goliath of a book series was being written in a café with Rowling’s daughter, Jessica, sleeping in the stroller next to her. At that time, Rowling couldn’t have fathomed the success she has achieved today- she was living in a cramped apartment, jobless, penniless, and depressed. “By every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew,” Rowling says of that time during a 2008 Harvard University commencement speech.
To make matters worse, she received rejection after rejection from book publishers when she first sent out the manuscript. That is until Bloomsbury, then a young independent firm, took a bet on Rowling and paid just GBP 2,500 to buy the book. What drove Bloomsbury to sign this deal when others wouldn’t? Barry Cunningham from Bloomsbury recalls that the tale of the orphaned boy wizard reminded him of Roald Dahl. “I loved the friendship and the fact it was funny. Fantasy wasn’t normally funny.”
Which books shaped Rowling into the author she is today? See below.
Biography & Image sourcesBiography: https://www.businessinsider.com/the-rags-to-riches-story-of-jk-rowling-2015-5, https://www.ft.com/content/a24a70a6-55a9-11e7-9fed-c19e2700005f
Banner image: slate
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Goudge was the only one whose influence I was conscious of. She always described exactly what the children were eating, and I really liked knowing what they had in their sandwiches. (Rowling's Notes, Oprah)
I've never found anything to match [Colette's] descriptive passages, ever. She was a very sensual writer, and way beyond her time. Chéri is a love story between a very spoiled young man and his mistress who has 'been there, done that.' He's self-centered and vicious, and she ultimately turns out to be very noble...
I lived in it the way that you do with truly great books; putting it down with glazed eyes and feeling disconcerted to find yourself in the 21st century. (Rowling's Notes, NY Times)