Sunday, October 2, 2011

Favorite Author: J.K. Rowling

(Born July 31, 1965)

Along with the American Stephenie Meyer, British author J.K. Rowling first introduced me to the young adult genre.  I've loved it ever since! 

On the other hand, Rowling has been criticized for starting out as a YA writer, then allowing her books to get progressively more 'adult' because of their sometimes graphic violence.  Interestingly, Meyer, too, has had her share of criticism in this regard.

Actually, I could care less whether Rowling's books are classified as YA or not.  I simply love them!  From the very first page, the story of Harry Potter, the orphaned 'chosen one', captivated me, to the extent that it was only a surprising turn of events that prevented me from finishing the sixth book in the series... I will return to finish this book, though, and go on to the seventh.  I simply must complete the whole series.  Of course, I must see all the movies, as well!   I've only gone as far as the third one...

The Harry Potter phenomenon is, as everyone knows, a world-wide one.  The books have enchanted millions of young fans, as well as older ones (yours truly included!).  This is because Harry's story is one of archetypal proportions -- it is the age-old hero's quest.  Adding to this is the fact that Harry starts life as 'an underdog'.  He is orphaned at birth, and sent to live with a family of so-called relatives that despise and even fear him.  They constantly mistreat him, and so, the poor young orphan receives no love at all.  These things instantly strike a chord in the reader, even if said reader has not undergone such unfortunate events.  There's something in human nature that wants to see justice done, in the case of someone who has had the deck stacked against him/her.

A great part of the appeal of the series is, of course, the sheer amount of imagination involved.  Rowling is nothing short of a genius in this regard.  Her seemingly endless inventiveness has given us not only memorable characters, but wonderfully enjoyable magical things, such as Hogwarts, the Quidditch game (a real version of which exists!), Diagon Alley with its quirky, enchanting stores full of magical implements, the sometimes funny spells learned by Hogwarts students....and I could go on and on....

The inventor of all these wonders was born as Joanne Rowling, to Peter James Rowling and Anne Rowling (nee Volant) in Yate, Gloucestershire, England.  Her sister Dianne was born when "Jo", as she likes to call herself, was 23 months old.  The family moved to the nearby village of Winterbourne when Jo was four.  This is where she attended St. Michael's Primary School, whose headmaster, Alfred Dunn, is thought to be the inspiration for the fictional headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry -- Albus Dumbledore

A view of Hogwarts, from the film
("Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" in the U.S.)

The original Dumbledore, played by
the late Richard Harris,
whose portrayal I much prefer to
that of Sir Michael Gambon, who succeeded him
in the role.

Rowling began writing fantasy stories as a child, and recalls one about a rabbit named, appropriately enough, "Rabbit".  It was not until 1990, however, while she was on a train trip from Manchester to London, that the idea for the first Harry Potter book came into her mind. 

She attended secondary school at Wyedean School and College.  She later attended the University of Exeter, where she read for a BA in French and Classics.

Her jobs -- before the success of this now famous series -- have included serving as researcher and bilingual secretary for Amnesty International, and teaching English as a foreign language in Portugal, where she met her husband, Portuguese TV journalist Jorge Arantes.  A daughter was born to them, but the marriage failed.  The child was named Jessica Isabel Rowling Arantes, and she was born in Portugal on July 27, 1993.

It was while living with her daughter, near her sister, in Edinburgh, Scotland, that she began writing in earnest.  She finished the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (titled Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in the U.S.) in 1995, and presented the manuscript to the Christopher Little Literary Agency, which subsequently represented her in her quest for a publisher.  They offered the novel to twelve different publishers, and all of them rejected it!  It was finally accepted by Bloomsbury, a small publishing house in London, which has since expanded, thanks to these books.  Due to a grant from the Scottish Arts Council, Rowling was able to continue writing.  In the spring of 1997, an auction was held in the U.S. for publication rights to the novel, which Scholastic, Inc. won, to the tune of $105,000.00.  In June of the same year, Bloomsbury published the book.  In February of 1998, the book won the British Book Award for Children's Book of the Year, which was just the second of many awards for this first novel.  The sequel, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, captured the same award the following year.

The rest, as they history! 

The movies that have been made of all seven books have been highly successful, as well.  Warner Bros. acquired the film rights to the first two novels in 1998, subsequently purchasing the rights to the rest of the novels later on.  There have been a succession of directors, but all have been excellent (at least the ones for the installments I've seen).  The last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was filmed in two parts, with the first part being released in November, 2010, and the second in July of this year.

The first two films were directed by Chris Columbus, who then resigned, to be replaced by Alfonso Cuaron, Mike Newell, and David Yates, who directed the last four movies.

The movies made international stars out of Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), and Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley).

On June 18, 2010, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was opened to the public at Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida, in the United States.

I am very much indebted to Wikipedia as the main source of the information in this article. 

(complete paperback set)

For further information:



  1. Excellent choice. I think Rowling is a great writer and a great inspirational figure for aspiring writers too. I saw a family history documentary with her in; where she traced her roots through France to Belgium and Germany. Fascinating stuff :)

  2. Hi, Jamie!

    Yeah, I agree!! I LOVE the Harry Potter series!!! (As if it weren't already obvious from this article!!) Lol.

    I have a list of favorite authors, and J.K. is very much a part of it! I try to publish a post about one of these authors at least once a month, but, because I include a lot of links in each post, they do take a long time to put together, and I don't always have the time...

    Thanks for commenting!! : )

  3. I absolutely agree! J.K. Rowling is the most amazing author ever. From the moment I picked up the first HP book I was captivated. She creates a magical world that I would love to be a part of. I feel like I know the characters and places in the books so well. You will love 6 and 7.
    If you haven't tried the audio book versions- they are not to be missed! The reader, Jim Dale, goes all out and really brings the story to life. I so loved this post!



THIS IS NOW AN AWARD-FREE, AND TAG-FREE BLOG. Thanks for the compliment, though! : )

Thanks for your thoughts on my posts! I always reply here, as well as comment back on your blog. Have a WONDERFUL day!! :)