- Rowling, J.K.
▪ 2000In 1999 Welsh-born author J.K. Rowling practiced her own brand of magic, casting a spell on readers around the world with her adventures of Harry Potter, a young sorcerer in training. In early 1999 the series' second installment, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which had been published in the U.K. in 1998, was released in the U.S. The third volume, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, landed on British bookshelves and atop best-seller lists in the summer and was a hit in the U.S. even before its September publication there. Originally written for children, Rowling's hypnotic brew of the mystical and the moral captured the imagination of the young and old alike and created a publishing sensation. Available in more than 100 countries and some 25 languages, the series had millions of copies in print and was scheduled to be adapted for the cinema. In the U.K., release of Prisoner of Azkaban was delayed until the end of the day to prevent students from skipping school. The great demand for the series in the U.S. resulted in a copyright dispute as impatient consumers, unwilling to wait for the books' American release, purchased them early through Internet sites.Joanne Kathleen Rowling was born in 1965 and grew up in Chepstow, Gwent, Wales, where she wrote her first story at the age of six. After graduating from the University of Exeter, Eng., in 1986, she moved to London and began working for Amnesty International. The idea for the Harry Potter stories came to her during a train ride in 1990, and she began writing the magic adventure while sitting in cafés and pubs. In the early 1990s Rowling traveled to Portugal to teach English as a foreign language, but after a brief marriage and the birth of her daughter, she returned to the U.K., settling in Edinburgh. Living on public assistance between stints as a French teacher, she continued to write, often on scraps of paper and napkins.After being rejected by several publishers, her manuscript was purchased by Bloomsbury Children's Books in 1996. Released the following year, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was an immediate hit. With vivid descriptions and an imaginative story line, Rowling had created a world of Muggles (non-magicians), Quidditch (a sport similar to basketball on broomsticks), and Howlers (screaming messages delivered by owls). At its centre was the unlikely hero Harry Potter, a lonely orphan who discovers that he is actually a wizard who as a baby survived an attack by Lord Voldemort, a sorcerer so evil that few will say his name. Upon learning his true identity, Harry enrolls at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he continues to battle the forces of darkness. The book received numerous awards, including the British Book Award, and made its American debut as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in 1998. Proposing a seven-volume series—one volume for each of Harry's years at Hogwarts—Rowling was expected to continue casting her spell on readers for some time.Amy Tikkanen
* * *▪ British authorin full Joanne Kathleen Rowlingborn July 31, 1965, Chipping Sodbury, near Bristol, EnglandBritish author, creator of the popular and critically acclaimed Harry Potter series, about a young sorcerer in training.After graduating from the University of Exeter in 1986, Rowling began working for Amnesty International in London, where she started to write the Harry Potter adventures. In the early 1990s she traveled to Portugal to teach English as a foreign language, but, after a brief marriage and the birth of her daughter, she returned to the United Kingdom, settling in Edinburgh. Living on public assistance between stints as a French teacher, she continued to write.Rowling's first book in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (1997; also published as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone), was an immediate success, appealing to both children (its intended audience) and adults. Featuring vivid descriptions and an imaginative story line, it followed the adventures of the unlikely hero Harry Potter, a lonely orphan who discovers that he is actually a wizard and enrolls in the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The book received numerous awards, including the British Book Award. Succeeding volumes—Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003), and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005)—also were best sellers, available in more than 200 countries and some 60 languages. The seventh and final installment in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was released in 2007.Other works include the companion books Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages, both of which were published in 2001, with proceeds going to charity. The series sparked great enthusiasm among children and was credited with generating a new interest in reading. A film version of the first Harry Potter book was released in 2001 and became one of the top-grossing movies in the world. Other volumes were also made into highly successful films. In 2008 Rowling followed her successful Harry Potter series with The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a collection of fairy tales. Rowling was appointed OBE (Officer of the British Empire) in March 2001. In 2009 she was named a chevalier of the French Legion of Honour.
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