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About J.K. Rowling

Joanne Rowling was born on July 31, 1965. Dianne, her younger sister, was born almost two years later and Joanne’s earliest childhood memory is of Dianne’s arrival. She, her sister, and her parents lived in Winterbourne, Gloucestershire, until Joanne was nine, when the family moved to Tutshill, near Chepstow.

Joanne grew up surrounded by books as her mum and dad loved reading—she says, “I lived for books...I was your basic common-or-garden bookworm, complete with freckles and National Health spectacles.” From an early age Joanne wanted to be a writer. She wrote her first book at the age of six—a story about a rabbit called Rabbit. Then when she was eleven she wrote a novel about seven cursed diamonds and the people who owned them. Joanne went to school at Wyedean Comprehensive School and then went on to study French and Classics at the University of Exeter. Her Classics studies would come in very handy later when she was thinking up all the spells in Harry Potter, some of which are based on Latin!

J.K. Rowling first had the idea for Harry Potter while delayed on a train traveling from Manchester to London King’s Cross in 1990. Over the next five years, she began to plan out the seven books of the series. She wrote mostly in longhand and amassed a mountain of notes, many of which were on scraps of paper.

She arrived in Edinburgh in 1993 with three chapters of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in her suitcase. By now she had a baby daughter, Jessica, but she continued to write in every spare moment she could find. When Joanne had finished the manuscript, she sent the first three chapters to a number of literary agents, one of whom wrote back asking to see the rest of it. She says that it was “the best letter I had ever received in my life.”

After finishing the first book and whilst training as a teacher, Harry Potter was accepted for publication by Bloomsbury in the United Kingdom. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone quickly became a bestseller on publication in 1997.

In the US, 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 the UK, US, 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 the UK, US, Canada, and Australia on June 21, 2003. It is the longest in the series—766 pages—and broke the records set by Harry Potter and 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 US, 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 schoolbooks 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 Lumos (formerly The Children’s High Level Group).

The Harry Potter books have now been translated into 79 languages and have sold over 450 million copies worldwide.

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