How did J.K. Rowling publish her first book?

Millions of people alive today have read at least one Harry Potter book, or watched one of the movies. If you haven’t, then the chances are that your parents or grandparents have bought you one of the many copies of this series that have been published so far, and you have them somewhere in your house. The story behind Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling’s success is nothing short of amazing.

J.K. Rowling
In 2000, Rowling was awarded an honorary degree from Napier University in Edinburgh.

Before she was a writer

Most people know J.K. Rowling by her pen name, but did you know that her real first name is actually Joanne? She chose to use her initials rather than her first name because she thought it would be more gender neutral for the young boys and girls who would be reading her Harry Potter books.

She was born in 1965 in Yate near Bristol, England. Her father was a Rolls Royce aircraft engineer and her mother was a science technician. When she was four years old, they moved to Winterbourne near Bristol where she grew up with her sister Di – also an author.

She attended school at St Michael’s Primary School, (1975-1982) then went on to Wyedean Comprehensive (1982-1986).

In 1986, when she was 18 years old, she began studying French and Classics at the University of Exeter. While at university, her older sister died suddenly of multiple sclerosis which had been diagnosed earlier that year. One of the symptoms of MS is loss of balance, and Jane (J.K.’s sister) had complained about losing her balance for about six months before dying.

A One Bedroom Writing Studio

J.K. finished her studies with a one-year postgraduate certificate in journalism after dropping out due to too much work combined with grief. After graduating, she became interested in writing children’s books.

She was working as an English teacher and living in a one bedroom apartment with her young daughter and struggling to make ends meet when she wrote the first Harry Potter book. She got by with the help of government assistance. That first book was The Philosopher’s Stone or what we now know as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Trying to get published

When she tried to get the book published, nine publishers rejected it. Finally, after six years, a small publishing company called Bloomsbury (Now part of Penguin Random House) said yes – as long as she could find an agent. She did and the rest is history.

On October 26th, 1998, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was released in England with an initial print run of 500 copies. Today over 120 million copies of this book and a total of about 500 million copies of all the books in the Harry Potter series have been sold worldwide!

Global Success

J.K. Rowling is now one of the most famous authors in the world. Today, she is worth an estimated $1 billion. She has donated much of her fortune to charity, notably Comic Relief’s One Parent Families organization. In 2001, she was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for services to children’s literature; in 2008, Queen Elizabeth II made her a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire; and in 2011 she created an organization called Lumos which helps orphaned children in Eastern Europe find loving homes.

Her best-selling books have been translated into more than sixty languages around the world. They have won dozens of awards including the British Book Awards Children’s Book Award and the Smarties Prize. There are currently five generations of Harry Potter readers, from babies to adults who read them as they were originally released over twenty years ago! And what’s even better? When the final book in the series was published, it had already broken records as the fastest selling book ever.

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