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 sister, Mackenzie, followed in January 2005.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was published by Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic in September 1998.
The second title in the series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, was published on June 2, 1999 and debuted at No. 1 on the adult hardcover bestseller lists.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was published on September 9, 1999 to worldwide acclaim and massive press attention. 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 simultaneously in Britain, the USA, Canada and Australia on July 8, 2000 with a record first print run of 3.8 million in the US alone. 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 June 21, 2003. 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 July 16, 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 July 21, 2007. With a record-breaking first print-run of 12 million copies in the USA, the book sold 8.3 million copies in the first 24 hours making it the fastest selling book in history.
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 Them and Quidditch Through The Ages were published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books and Scholastic in March 2001 in aid of Comic Relief. A third volume, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, which appeared in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was published on December 3, 2008 in aid of The Children's High Level Group.
The Harry Potter books are distributed in over 200 territories, are translated into 68 languages and have sold over 400 million copies worldwide.
Selected Honors and Awards
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. In 2006, Jo was Winner of the Nibbie’s (Children’s Book of the Year) for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Most recently, Jo received the 2008 British Book Awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award.
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. In February 2009, she was inducted into France’s prestigious Legion of Honor and given the honorary title of “knight”. Jo has honorary degrees from Harvard University, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire USA, University of Exeter, University of St Andrews, Napier University, Edinburgh, and University of Edinburgh.
J K Rowling supports a wide range of charities and causes:
For seven years J K Rowling 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. In 2005 Jo co-founded the Children’s High Level Group, which aims to make life better for young people in care, in Eastern Europe and ultimately all over the world. In February 2010 the UK- based arm of the charity became Lumos. Since 1999 Jo has been a supporter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society Scotland, for nine of those years as its patron. Although she has recently stepped down as Patron of the charity, she continues to fund MS research directly.