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Section: Everything you might want to know

J K Rowling and her work

J K (Joanne Kathleen) Rowling was born in July 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, her course including one year in Paris. As a postgraduate she moved to London and worked as a researcher at Amnesty International among other jobs. She started writing the Harry Potter series during a delayed 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 a daughter Jessica in 1993. When the marriage ended, she and Jessica returned to the UK to live in Edinburgh, where Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone was eventually completed.

Jo married Dr. Neil Murray in 2001, and a brother for Jessica, David, was born in 2003. A sister, Mackenzie, followed in 2005.

The books

J K Rowling has also written two small volumes, which appear as the titles of Harry’s school books within the novels:

The Harry Potter books are distributed in over 200 territories and are translated into 69 languages.

Honours and Awards

J K Rowling has received the following honours and awards:

Order of the British Empire (OBE), 2001
Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur: France, 2009
Prince of Asturias Award for Concord, Spain, 2003
The Edinburgh Award, 2008

Honorary Degrees from the University of Exeter, University of St Andrews, Napier University, University of Edinburgh, Dartmouth College, USA, Harvard University, USA, University of Aberdeen.

Commencement speaker, Harvard University, USA, 2008
James Joyce Award, University College Dublin, 2008

Author of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Award, British Book Awards,1999 and 2008
Booksellers Association Author of the Year, 1998 and 1999
W H Smith Fiction Award, 2004
Outstanding Achievement Award, South Bank Show Awards, 2008
Blue Peter Gold Badge, awarded 2007


J K Rowling supports a wide number of charities and causes, some of which you can find more information on in this section.

She has set up the Volant Charitable Trust, which supports a wide number of causes related to social deprivation and associated problems, particularly as they affect women and children. The Trust has funded a variety of projects in the UK and abroad. It also supports research into the causes and treatment of Multiple Sclerosis.

As a postgraduate, Jo worked at the London office of Amnesty International, doing research into human rights abuses in Francophone Africa.

For seven years she was an Ambassador of One Parent Families, now called Gingerbread, a charity working with lone parents and their children. In 2007 she took an honorary position as President for the charity.

Since 1999 J K Rowling has been a supporter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society Scotland, for nine of those years as its Patron. Having lost her mother to MS at the age of 45, this is one of the causes closest to Jo’s heart and her support has included planning and hosting fundraising events, directly lobbying politicians, writing articles and giving interviews to raise awareness of this very Scottish disease, and contributing significant funds for research in Scotland, including research establishments in Edinburgh and Aberdeen. She has recently stepped down as Patron of the charity but continues to fund MS research directly.

In 2005 J K Rowling co-founded the Children’s High Level Group (CHLG) with Baroness Emma Nicholson MEP, inspired by a press report she read about children in caged beds in institutions in the Czech Republic. This charity aims to make life better for young people in care, in Eastern Europe and ultimately all over the world. In 2007 J K Rowling auctioned for CHLG a copy of one of the seven special editions of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, which raised £1.95 million. In December 2008 the book was widely published in aid of the charity and became the fastest-selling book of that year. In February 2010 the UK-based arm of the charity became Lumos.

Jo has supported a wide range of other causes and charities, including Comic Relief, for which she has written two short books; The Maggie’s Centres for Cancer Care, of which she was a Patron for several years; the UK Labour Party, to which she donated £1 million in 2008, and Médecins Sans Frontières, in aid of which she performed in an event with Stephen King and John Irving in New York in 2006.

The Films

For further facts and figures about the books and films, please contact the publishers and Warner Bros via the links section.

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