Happy Birthday today, July 31st to J. K. Rowling author of the Harry Potter fantasy series. She is 50 years old and was born in Gloucestershire, England, named Joanne “Jo” Rowling. She was a researcher and bilingual secretary for Amnesty International when she had the idea for the Potter novels. The books sold more than 400 million copies. They became the best-selling book series in history. Rowling has been ranked the twelfth richest woman in the United Kingdom. In October 2010, Rowling was named the “Most influential Woman in Britain” by leading magazine editors.
She has a sister, Dianne, 23 months younger than Rowling. The fantasy stories that Rowling wrote as a child were read to her sister. In the Potter series, Rowling based Albus Dumbledore on her headmaster at St. Michael’s Primary School. Hermione Granger she based on herself when she was eleven. She enjoyed reading Dickens and Tolkien when she was in school.
While she wrote Harry Potter, her mother died from multiple sclerosis and didn’t know what Rowling was writing. Rowling emphasized Harry’s loss of his mother in the first novel because she knew how it felt. She moved to Portugal to teach English as a foreign language. She liked to write while listening to Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. She met Portuguese television journalist Jorge Arantes who shared her interest in Jane Austen. They married in October, 1992. Their daughter, Jessica Mitford was born in July of 1993 in Portugal and Rowling separated from Arantes in November 1993. With her daughter, she moved to be near her sister in Edinburgh, Scotland. She felt like a failure, was diagnosed with clinical depression, and her illness inspired the characters known as Dementors. The real reason she wrote in cafes was that she’d take the baby out for a walk to make her fall asleep which gave Rowling time to write.
In 2004, Forbes named Rowling as the first person to become a U.S.-dollar billionaire by writing books. She established a charity with a yearly budget of 5.1 million pounds to combat poverty and social inequality. The fund also gives to organizations that aid children, one parent families, and multiple sclerosis research. She is involved with several other charities. You can read about them at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._K._Rowling.