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J. K. Rowling
Author of Harry Potter

Name: Joanne Kathleen Rowling
Nicknames: Jo (to friends), JKR (in fandom)
Birthday: July 31, 1965
Born: Chepstow, Gwent, England
Family: Daughter is Jessica, currently married to a Dr. Neil Murrary. Divorced Jessica's father (a Portuguese journalist, who happens to be a real jerk) in 1990. Father is Peter Rowling. Peter (retired) and Mother, Ann, passed away in 1990.
Living: the Riverside house in Edinburgh, Scotland
Education: Exeter University
Miscellaneous: Taught English in Portugal, French major, worked as a secretarial translator for a business (French to English), and is now a multi-millionaire. Unlike the rest of us.
Books Authored to Date: Harry Potter and the Philosopher/Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; along with Fantastic Beasts and Where They Come From, and Quidditch Through the Ages.

A J. K. Rowling Timeline


EARLY 1960s: Father, Peter, a chartered engineer for Rolls Royce in Bristol, England, meets mother, Anne, a half-French, half-Scottish lab technician, on a train from KING'S CROSS station in London. He proposes to her on another train.

JULY 31, 1965: Joanne Kathleen Rowling is born at Chipping Sodbury General Hospital in Gloucestershire.

1971: Rowling, age six, writes first story, about a rabbit who gets the measles. The family moves from Yate to Winterbourne, near Bristol, where Rowling, nine, and her younger sister, Di, play with a gang of children in their street, including a brother and sister named POTTER. Ian Potter plays lots of tricks -- hides SLUGS on picnic plates and booby-traps the training wheels on sister Vikki Potter's bike. He even gets Jo, Di and Vikki to run through wet concrete. The girls love dressing up as WITCHES.

  • Ian is now a damp-proofing technician in Yate, while Vikki is currently a software-company sales director.

    1974: Family moves to Tutshill, near Chepstow in Wales. Rowling hates new school, but adores reading E. Nesbit, Noel Streatfield, Paul Gallico's Manxmouse, C.S. Lewis' Narnia series and Elizabeth Goudge's Little White Horse. Writes her own story about seven cursed diamonds.

    1976: Starts Wyedean Comprehensive, not a private school, although nearby Wyedean School has Houses named Armstrong, Bannister, Chichester, and Hillary. Her best and oldest "foulweather friend" is Sean Harris (the basis for RON WEASLEY).

  • Tells friends long stories during lunch breaks.
  • Later describes self at this time as a pudding-faced child with glasses (the basis for HERMIONE), "a snotty, swotty little kid" and very insecure until she gets contact lenses. Becomes a big fan of Jane Austen.

    1980: Mother diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

    1982: Rowling becomes Head Girl, or lead pupil, at Wyedean Comprehensive.

    1983: Goes to University of Exeter to study French and classics.

    1985: Spends one year in Paris as a teaching assistant as part of degree.

    1987: Graduates, then works briefly for Amnesty International and shares a flat in South London. Writes during lunch hours in pubs and cafes. At least two novels for adults are conceived at this time.

    1988: Secretarial work in Manchester, but hates it. Uses time to type stories on computer.

    1990: On a delayed train journey from Manchester to KING'S CROSS in London, Harry Potter the character strides "fully formed" into her head, and she starts to create the whole world of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry around him. Unfortunately, she has no pen or paper, so she commits it all to memory.

  • Mother dies at age 45 of multiple sclerosis.

    1991: Rowling, 26, goes off to teach English as a foreign language in Oporto, Portugal. Writes ten different first chapters for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Invents names of Hogwarts Houses on the back of an airsickness bag.

    1992: Marries Portuguese television journalist.

    1993: Gives birth to daughter, Jessica, named after Rowling's idol, author and activist Jessica Mitford.

    CHRISTMAS 1993: Divorces, returns to Britain with baby Jessica; heads for Edinburgh, Scotland, where sister Di lives, carrying half a suitcase of Harry Potter stories. Di, who used to be a nurse, is studying law.

  • One month after her return, British Prime Minister John Major makes a speech about single mothers being at the root of society's ills.

    1994: Tells Di the story of Harry Potter. Fortunately, Di loves it.

  • Rowling is caught in a classic poverty trap -- living in one-bedroom flat, can't get a place in state-sponsored day care for Jessica, and can't afford private child care without a job. Experiences brief period of severe depression (inspiring the DEMENTORS who suck happy memories from mortals and drive them to despair). Gets by on income support of 69 pounds ($105) per week. Skips meals to save money for Jessica.
  • Writes Harry Potter on notepads in cafes around Edinburgh, fueled by the occasional espresso while Jessica naps in her buggy. Continues scribbling in evenings. "I really wrote it entirely for myself."

    1995: Finishes writing book and types on old 40 pound ($63) typewriter. Can't afford to photocopy the manuscript, so retypes it out all over again. Goes to library and looks up the names of agents and publishers. Sends manuscript to two agents and one publisher.

    1996: Works as French teacher while waiting to hear about her manuscript. Agent Christopher Little finds the right publisher, Bloomsbury.

    FEBRUARY 1997: Scottish Arts Council gives her a record grant for a children's author, 8,000 pounds ($13,000).

  • Rowling buys a computer in order to finish the second book.

    JUNE 1997: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is published in Britain.

    SEPTEMBER 1997: An auction in New York sees the U.S. rights to the book eventually bought for $105,000, an unheard-of amount for a children's author. Rowling buys 100 pound ($160) jacket to wear for interviews.

    JULY 1998: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets published in Britain.

    JULY 1999: Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban published in Britain, knocking Thomas Harris' Hannibal out of the No. 1 spot on the bestseller list.

    SEPTEMBER 9, 1999: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is released in the U.S.

  • The New York Times has Harry Potter books in the top three positions on its bestseller list. An unprecedented feat.
  • Warner Brothers buys the film rights to the first two books. Rowling demands they be live-action movies, not animations, and that she have script approval. She says that she's particularly looking forward to seeing Quidditch matches on the big screen and she hopes that Hagrid will be played by Robbie Coltrane. Mattel Inc., of Barbie fame, buys the merchandising rights to Harry Potter.

    2000: Rowling makes Forbes' annual Celebrity 100 list as the 24th-highest celebrity earner in the world, having earned $40 million in 1999, just after Michael Jordan and just ahead of Cher, and easily beating fellow scribes Grisham, Koontz, and Chrichton. Steven Kloves, director of The Fabulous Baker Boys, starts writing screenplay for the movie.

    MARCH 2000: Worldwide sales of the first three Harry Potter books stand at 30 million in 35 languages.

    JULY 2000: Book four, tentatively titled Harry Potter and the Doomspell Tournament (published as Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), to be published simultaneously in Britain and the United States!

    NOVEMBER 16, 2001: The movie based on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is released simultaneously in Britain and the United States. Earned over $90 million U.S. dollars in first weekend; a record breaker. (Spiderman broke Harry Potter's record in early 2002 with $114 million on its opening weekend.)

    DECEMBER 26, 2001: Joanne marries Dr. Neil Murray in private ceremony at her Riverside mansion.

  • Fans worry that Book 5 (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) will not come out any time soon.

    MAY 28, 2002: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone movie out on home video (VHS) and DVD in U.S.

    NOVEMBER 15, 2002: Set date for the release of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in movie theatres for Britain and United States.

    ~

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