J K (Joanne Kathleen) Rowling was born in the summer of 1965 at Yate General Hospital in England and grew up in Chepstow, Gwent where she went to Wyedean Comprehensive.
Jo left Chepstow for Exeter University, where she earned a French and Classics degree, and where her course included one year in Paris. As a postgraduate she moved to London to work at Amnesty International, doing research into human rights abuses in Francophone Africa. She started writing the Harry Potter series during a Manchester to London King’s Cross train journey, and during the next five years, outlined the plots for each book and began writing the first novel.
Jo then moved to northern Portugal, where she taught English as a foreign language. She married in October 1992 and gave birth to her daughter Jessica in 1993. When her marriage ended, she returned to the UK to live in Edinburgh, where Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone was eventually completed and in 1996 she received an offer of publication. The following summer the world was introduced to Harry Potter.
Jo married Dr. Neil Murray in 2001, and a brother for Jessica, David, was born in 2003. A second sister, Mackenzie, followed in January 2005.
Selected Awards & Prizes
J K Rowling was voted author of the year at the 1999 British Book Awards (Nibbies) and won the Booksellers Association Author of the Year award two years in a row (1998 and 1999). She won the W H Smith Children’s Book of the Year for 2000 and in 2004, she was awarded the WH Smith’s Fiction Award. Most recently, in 2006, Jo was Winner of the Nibbie’s (Children’s Book of the Year) for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Jo was awarded an OBE for services to children's literature in June 2000 and in 2003 received Spain’s prestigious Prince of Asturias Award for Concord. She has honorary degrees from Dartmouth College, New Hampshire USA, University of Exeter, University of St Andrews, Napier University, Edinburgh, and University of Edinburgh.
J K Rowling is the President of the charity One Parent Families, and the Patron of The Multiple Sclerosis Society Scotland. She is also a co-founder and co-chair of the Children’s High Level Group, which aims to make life better for young people in care, in Europe and ultimately all over the world.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was published by Bloomsbury Children's Books in June 1997 and was published as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in America by Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic in September 1998.
The second title in the series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, was published in July 1998 (June 2, 1999 in America) and was No. 1 in the adult hardback bestseller charts for a month after publication.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was published on 8th July 1999 (September 8, 1999 in America) to worldwide acclaim and massive press attention. The book spent four weeks at No.1 in the adult hardback bestseller charts, while Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone simultaneously topped the paperback charts. In the US the first three Harry Potter books occupied the top three spots on numerous adult bestseller lists.
The fourth book in the series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was published in Britain, the USA, Canada and Australia 8th July 2000 with a record first print run of 1 million copies for the UK and 3.8 million for the US. It quickly broke all records for the greatest number of books sold on the first weekend of publication.
The fifth book in the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, was published in Britain, the USA, Canada and Australia on 21st June 2003. Published in paperback on 10th July 2004, it is the longest in the series – 766 pages - and broke the records set by Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire as the fastest selling book in history.
The sixth book in the series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, was published in the UK, US and other English-speaking countries on 16th July 2005 and also achieved record sales.
The seventh and final book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was published in the UK, US and other English speaking countries on 21st July 2007. The book is the fastest selling book in the UK and USA and sales have contributed to breaking the 375 million copies mark worldwide.
J K Rowling has also written two small volumes, which appear as the titles of Harry’s school books within the novels. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Themand Quidditch Through The Ages were published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books and Scholastic in March 2001 in aid of Comic Relief.
The Harry Potter books are distributed in over 200 territories and are translated into 65 languages.
HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE broke all box office records when it opened in the UK in November 2001 and has since become the number two film of all time.
Directed by Home Alone director Chris Columbus and produced by David Heyman, the film contained an all-British cast, and stars included Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid), Dame Maggie Smith (Professor McGonagall), Julie Walters (Mrs Weasley), Alan Rickman (Professor Snape), and Richard Harris (Professor Dumbledore). Harry Potter was played by Daniel Radcliffe, whilst Harry’s two best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger were played by Rupert Grint and Emma Watson.
The second film, HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS, also directed by Chris Columbus and produced by David Heyman, went on general release on 15th November 2002 and was another huge success at the box office. British actors Kenneth Branagh and Jason Isaacs, and a computer-generated Dobby, were three of the new characters.
The third film, HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN, was released in the UK and US on June 4th 2004. Directed by Alfonso Cuaron, new cast members included Gary Oldman (Sirius Black), Emma Thompson (Professor Trelawney) and Michael Gambon, who replaced Richard Harris in the role of Professor Dumbledore.
The fourth film, HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE, was released in the UK in November 2005. Directed by Mike Newell, new cast members included Brendan Gleeson as Mad-Eye Moody, Miranda Richardson as Rita Skeeter and Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort.
The fifth film, HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX, was released in the UK and US in July 2007. Directed by David Yates, new cast members included Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge, Helena Bonham-Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange, and newcomer Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood.