J.K. Rowling – The Harry Potter Author

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J.K. Rowling is one of the USA’s most successful authors of all time, earning more money and getting more fame than any other author in history. She has gained a tremendous amount of influence and has built a fan base for our series and herself.

Rowling has made a series that is beloved by millions. While most know the story of the boy who lived, and many don’t see the woman’s story behind this magnificent series. We’re explaining Rowling’s early childhood and the journey she took to write this series.

J.K. Rowling's book harry potter series

J.K. Rowling Childhood

Joanne Rolling was born on July 31st, 1965, to Peter and Rolling. Joanne went by Jo for short, sharing a birthday with the beloved hero Harry Potter. Jo was supposed to be a boy, and when she was born a girl, her parents were very disappointed.

They ended up treating her like a boy regardless. They always dressed her in blue clothes. J.K. was the older sister of Dianne Rowling, and as kids, they often wore similar clothes.

J.K. Rowling’s sister wore pink, showing that their parents treated Dianne like an ordinary girl, which they did not do for Jo. Jo knew that her parents were disappointed that she wasn’t a boy, and this made Joe go upstairs and cry in her room. The family grew up comfortably moneywise. J.K. Rowling’s father was an aircraft engineer, and her mother was a science technician who would later work at Jo’s school. Jo grew up on a suburban street just like Harry. Her house even had a cupboard section under the stairs.

They lived just outside Bristol and later moved a few miles down the road. Their home was always surrounded by large fields and forests, including the forest of Dean. The forest of Dean, of course, popped up a few times in the Harry Potter series.

J.K. Rowling as a child with sister

J.K. Rowling’s Forest Dean

Forest Dean came in once mum and dad, and coincidentally the character that went there often is Rowling identifies with the most. “But harmony is an exaggeration of me, so harmony really did come from a very deep place inside me,” says J.K. Rowling. 

J.K. Rowling was always drawn to the forest dean. She used the forest as a place of shelter and safety with the trees, river, and more. This location is a big reason why the Hogwarts grounds have vast land dedicated to the Forbidden Forest.

Forest Dean is actually Jo’s favorite place on the grounds. Both Jo and Dianne Rowling often heard their parents recount the story of how they met at King’s Cross Station. Rowling said that she sees the station as a romantic place because of this, and it’s a big reason why it plays such a big part in the series.

Where would you say that we are? It looks like King’s Cross Station, King’s Cross. Is that right? Jo and I had a grandmother named Frieda, who they intensely disliked. Jo based Aunt Marge on Frieda. She says in an interview, “It was good of my brother to keep it a bit straight to an orphanage of her being dumped on my doorstep.”

Forest Dean woods

J.K. Rowling’s Book Influence 

J.K. Rowling loved to read and was significantly influenced by The Little White Horse. She enjoyed how much detail there was in the book. The Little White Horse focused on the tiniest information, such as what they were eating. This, of course, inspired the many small details spread out through the Harry Potter series.

The book also inspired Jo to write her own stories at the early age of six. It was called rabbit, and it was about a rabbit named rabbit. She wrote a whole series of books about rabbit, which Jo today thinks of the series as dull.

Rowling also had a fascination with trains that she admitted made her a bit nerdy. Her love for trains is probably one of the reasons why students get to Hogwarts using a train. Jo and Di often got awful haircuts from their parents that Jo jokingly said should have been considered child abuse.

Another event parallels Harry’s story when Vernon would always cut Harry’s hair terribly. Jo lived four doors down from a boy named Ian Potter, who was a naughty little boy. His antics greatly parallel the hero from Rowling’s story, and she has admitted that she drew inspiration from Ian for Harry’s character Joe and Ian. 

J.K. Rowling’s Early Work

Around the ages of twelve and ten, J.K. Rowling and Dianne were part-time cleaners of their church, St Luke’s, to earn extra pocket money. During the winter, the church would get cold while working. Jo was the only member of her family to attend church services weekly. She was also baptized at St Luke’s when she was eleven, the day rowling struggles with religion and God.

She said she’s often doubt written about many things but does believe in God and thinks there’s an afterlife role in secondary school. J.K. Rowling had a chemistry teacher named John, yet she felt that he was a very unlikeable man, and she would later take inspiration from him to make Severus Snape a character.

J.K. Rowling Teen Years

During Rowling’s teens, she got into dramatic, gritty realism that Barry Hines influenced. She also got heavily into Jessica Mitford after she released her autobiography. Rowling read all of her books and actually named her first daughter after the author, Jessica.

When Jo got older, she became a little more rebellious, often sticking her head out of her bedroom window to smoke. She would drop her cigarette butts on the ground outside her window, and when her dad asked about them, she said that people from the pub must be throwing them into the garden.

While she was young, Rowling always felt like an outsider. One of her best childhood friends, Sean Harris, changed that. They both moved when they were nine, so both felt like outsiders finding comfort in each other. Rowling said that this was a critical friendship in her life.

And J.K. Rowling said that Sean was a huge inspiration for Ron White. Sean was the first of Jo’s friends to get his driver’s license, and he drove an old Ford that was turquoise and white.

Sound familiar? The two often went on long drives together and would hang out under the bridge to drink and talk about life. Rowling felt that he was always there for a very present trait, and Ron’s character, John, was the first person she discussed a ruthless ambition to become a writer, too.

He was also the only person who thought she was bound for success, and this meant more to rowling than she ever told him at the time. At 15, Jo’s mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. At the time, there were no drug treatments for this, and Jo watched as her mother suffered through this illness.

J.K. Rowling’s School Years 

While in school, Rowling had a teacher that she disliked intensely on site. This teacher ended up being the inspiration for Dolores Umbridge. Jo was made head girl during her time in school, which is why she incorporated boys and girls at Hogwarts.

One of J.K. Rowling’s English professors, Steve Eddy, described her as not exceptional but a group of bright girls. Rowling escapes their small-town life by attending the University of Exeter. There, she got a degree in French and classics.

She did what she needed to do to get through school and recalls doing little work. She said she preferred reading Dickens and Tolkien and trying hard in school. Rowling got one of her short essays published by the university, marking the first time she ever had a work published after school.

J.K. Rowling’s Idea For Harry Potter Book

While she was on a four-hour train delay, J.K. Rowling moved to London, working as a bilingual secretary one day. The idea for Harry Potter came into Rowling’s head, and she said it was the most physical rush of excitement that she had ever felt.

I could see Harry very clearly, this skinny little boy. She had nothing to write his thoughts down for four hours. Rowling had all of these ideas building up in her head as soon as she got home. She wrote all of her ideas down, and she decided that she wanted to write a book.

After six months of writing, she had written the first chapter in 155 different ways, but most of them gave away too much. She said that you would probably get the whole plot if you put them all together. After six months of working on the series, Jo’s mother passed away, finally losing her battle with her illness.

girl holding harry potter book

J.K. Rowling’s Mother Passes Away

J.K. Rowling’s mother died never knowing about Harry Potter or her daughter’s enormous success. To this day. Jo’s biggest regret was that she didn’t keep her mother on the phone longer. The important story of the series didn’t change, but everything deepened and ended at her mother’s funeral.

J.K. Rowling’s father didn’t want Jo or Dianne to see her body. Jo wanted to see it and didn’t care how she looked because she thought it would make it easier. She profoundly regrets following her father’s wishes. Afterward, both Jo and Dianne found their father very difficult.

J.K. Rowling always had a weird relationship with their father, and she said that it was far from ideal. She said she was terrified of them but tried desperately to get his approval and make them happy. The attempts eventually stopped when she realized she couldn’t do this anymore.

Ties were eventually cut between Jo and her father. One of the main reasons for this was how unsettling it was that he moved in so quickly with his secretary after his wife’s death. Harry has so many idealized father figures because of Jo’s difficult relationship with her father.

J.K. Rowling Love & Marriage

J.K. Rowling decided to move to Portugal to teach English as a foreign language. There, she met and married George Arantes, a television journalist. They wanted a child, and on their first attempt, Rowling had a miscarriage that greatly affected her.

Eventually, she successfully gave birth to their daughter, who they named Jessica, who, as I said before, was named after one of Jo’s favorite authors. The marriage turned out to be far from perfect, and there was some domestic abuse. Arantes today has admitted to slapping her very hard.

One day, he pushed her out of the house without Jessica and rowling return the next day with the car. He was forced to hand Jessica over, and Jo, who had had enough, left and went to Britain. Rowling sneakily put a failed marriage in Harry Potter.

J.K. Rowling knew that she had to rebuild both herself and Jessica a new life, but she wasn’t quite sure how. Rowling was on the verge of homelessness and was relying entirely on benefits. Rowling skipped meals to ensure that her daughter was fed. One month, she couldn’t even afford her rent and had to borrow money from her friends. At this point, she had fallen into a deep depression.

J.K. Rowling Falls Into Depression

J.K. Rowling’s depression got so bad that she came to a point where she thought something terrible would happen to Jessica. She described her depression, saying It’s a numbness and an inability to believe that you will feel happy again or that yo. All the color drained out of life; this became the main inspiration for the creatures she created in Harry Potter called the dementors. 

Chocolate is even one of the few cures to make you feel better after an attack. A calming cure for depression, Rowling eventually got into a routine. The only way to make Jessica fall asleep was to keep her moving, so Jo pushed her in a carriage until she fell asleep.

And once she did, she went into the nearest café and began writing. Her favorite cafe was called Nicholson’s, which her brother-in-law owned. She wrote vast parts of the book in this cafe. 

J.K. Rowling Writes Harry Potter Books

It took Rowling five years, from when she thought of the idea on the train to when she finished the first book. She remembered every little detail in the series and did this for the audience, but partly for herself as well. So this is the name of everyone in Harry’s year, and all these little symbols mean what house they’re in. How magical they are, what their parentage is.

J.K. Rowling also made drawings of characters and how things worked to know what they looked like. She also wrote the final chapter of the last book, and this was her way of telling herself that she would get big one day.

The absence of any meaningful relationship with their father and the slow loss of her mother were two of the most critical influences in Jo’s writing. When describing the scenes, she said there’s never enough time. It’s not only applied to Harry but also herself, which goes back even further to her greatest regret of not having enough time on the phone with her mother the last time she spoke to her.

When she finally finished the first book. She sent her manuscript to many different publishing companies. Rowling believed in the story and thought she gave it her best shot. However, many publishing companies threw it on the rejection pile despite this.

Bloomsbury Publishing Picks Up Harry Potter

Bloomsbury Publishing eventually picked Harry Potter up after Rowling told them the whole story that the books would tell. She asked how they felt about sequels after hearing the story and how all seven books would go. Bloomsbury was on board for both the first book and the six sequels.

Jo was ecstatic. Her lifetime ambition of being put on the shelf finally came true. The book slowly started to get more and more popular when the book finally made it to America. There was a bidding war between the American publishing companies.

Scholastic ultimately came out on top, paying over $105,000. This event changed everything for Jo. She could now go full-time as a writer, which is all that she ever wanted. After finishing the second book, she dedicated it to her longtime friend, Sean.

When J.K. Rowling released the third book in 1999, she went from successful writer to international superstar. J.K. Rowling was the first author ever to have the top three spots on New York Times bestseller list. With this fame, however, came many problems as well.

J.K. Rowling Harassed After Fame

Journalists began banging on J.K. Rowling’s front door. Jessica was being scrutinized and hounded by journalists because Jo was her mother. And worst of all, Jo’s dad had journalists at his door questioning him on why his daughter hates him. The journalists deeply hurt him and made Jo and her father’s relationship even more complicated.

Sean even had reporters knocking at his door, digging for information on Jo. Rowling was also attacked by Christian groups, claiming that her books promoted the religion of witchcraft. Some parents in South Carolina even tried to get the books banned from the classrooms.

Consumers even went as far as to say that she was practicing witchcraft and was getting death threats because of it. Rowling also got hate for making her so-called children’s books so dark and full of death. One mother wrote to Jo, saying that a writer of her ability should make the ending of the books less dark and disturbing. The mother then proceeded to say that she would be back in touch if she did not make the sequels more uplifting. Jo snapped and wrote back, telling her not to read the rest of the books because she was writing it how she wanted.

Jo felt uncomfortable being followed by the paparazzi. The moment that stands out the most to her was when photographers took pictures of her on the beach. When J.K. Rowling released the fourth book of the series in 2000, it was another hit.

Her book signings began to resemble concerts with thousands of people attending. J.K. Rowling struggled with public appearances and speeches and didn’t like this part of the fame. She was especially terrified to do book readings in front of a large crowd.

J.K. Rowling Writes Final Books

J.K. Rowling met Neil Murray, and the two got married in 2001. Rowling was eventually approached to make her books into movies, and many production companies reached out. Jo was very skeptical at first and was very picky.

She eventually agreed to let Warner Brothers create the series. She worked closely with the screenwriter Steve Clovis, and the two worked out a script that worked for both of them. When Rowling saw the set for Diagon Alley, she began to cry because it was so perfect.

Jo and Neil eventually had two kids, Mackenzie and David. The parents worked hard to keep their children out of the spotlight, actually pressing charges against the press for publishing pictures of their children, a case that they unfortunately lost.

Rowling went back to work on a beloved series, writing the fifth installment. Many fans thought that she had writer’s block because there was a gap of almost three years since the last book was released, whereas the others came out a year apart.

Rowling denied this and said it was the longest book of the series and had many details that would lead to the final book, so she needed more time to work. Those plot points out when she released the order of the Phenix in 2003.

It’s sold 5 million copies in 24 hours, making it the fastest-selling book of all time. The Half-Blood Prince was released two years later, and it once again broke all sales records, selling around 9 million copies in the first 24 hours. The Half-Blood Prince also received the book of the Year prize at the British Book Awards.

Rowling then began working on the seventh and final book of the series. She kept all full details secret. Toward the end of the writing process, she locked herself in a hotel room to finish the book. 

It took rowling 17 years to write the series from start to finish. J.K. Rowling personally loved the seventh book, which she admitted was rarely the case when judging her work. When she released the Deathly Hallows, it again broke all records, selling 11 million copies in just 24 hours after Jo finished the series. 

Rowling donates a vast amount of money to many charitable causes, but most of all, into multiple sclerosis research, the disease that killed her mother.

Although Rowling said that she was done with Harry Potter, she runs her website, Pottermore, and often releases new information on the wizarding world. 

Rowling struggled through a lot during her life. She’s admitted that the series was one giant attempt to reclaim childhood. The writing was her escape from the real world. Her depression, failed marriage, the press, and so much more were her dreams of happiness. Both she and Harry got the happy ending they deserved with the family. “The amazing stories we love best do live in us forever. So whether you come back by page or by the screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” This is a great quote that J.K. Rowling ended a conference. 

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