A phenomenally successful writer (Ms. J. K. Rowling) penned a sad story that ultimately shows how good triumphs evil and how the fine line between magical beings and muggles (ordinary humans - not wizards or witches) is continuously being crossed. It is an awesome tale of epic struggles within the magical world, and of course between the protagonist, Harry Potter, and the antagonist, Lord Voldemort. Children and adults read the books on a global level, and in fact, the word "muggle" was put into a major dictionary.
The esteemed Oxford English Dictionary (OED) added the word in 2003 because "it was being used everyday by so many people all over the world." I say, that wasn't too shabby for a living fiction writer to be honored so.
So, who is this woman who changed the world?
She was born in Chipping Sodbury near Bristol, in England, in July, 1965. She lived around Bristol until she was 9 years old, and then moved to Tutshill, a town in South Wales that was below a castle on a cliff. She liked to explore a nearby graveyard (next door) near Offa's Dyke on the River Wye. Imagine the rich names and fertile imaginary stories that could come just from these childhood living places.
The village school there was what she called "Dickensian." Her teacher seated students according to his perception of their intelligence. She was seated in a "dim" row rather than a bright row. Needless to say, that teacher helped her to give shape to Professor Snape's personality.
Later, in her secondary school she found the only teacher she could trust, a Miss Shepherd, her English teacher. She told J.K. the truth instead of "Don't do that." She told her that she was being rude, and that was passionate because J.K. was doodling (albeit listening), but it was rude to the teacher. This teacher who had integrity and taught J.K. so much sent her a letter commenting on Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Her liking the book and writing comments meant more to J.K. than any news reviews. I find this very endearing and revealing since the books include quite a cast of teacher characters. Many readers could sympathize and empathize with some of the plights of the students in the stories. It made them real although they took place in a fantasy world. Maybe that confirms some of our experiences recalled from our childhoods.
Another school quirk for J.K. is the school uniform she had to wear. It was brown and yellow, and she chooses not to ever wear those colors now. Oh, how the school uniform was so much of many of our growing up memories. I know mine was a huge piece of my Catholic school years.
Insecurity played a part in her teen years. She felt pale in comparison to her younger sister and considered herself a worrier, a bit like the character, Hermione. Her mother became ill (multiple sclerosis), and the stress increased her need for friends to confide in.
During her twelfth grade (American system), a new boy came to her school and became her best friend. He drove a turquoise Ford Anglia which is the car that rescues Harry and Ron to take them to Hogwarts. She dedicated Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets to her friend. Part of being a teen, especially for one who lived in a small village, was to get rescued from the town, taken for a ride at the very least, and in this case, in a turquoise Ford Anglia. I had a dear friend who rescued me on his motorcycle, we had a grand time.
She enjoyed tropical fish during her teens and still loves them. Previously she had a rabbit, 2 guinea pigs, and a dog. Perhaps these pets helped her wonderful mythical beasts descriptions and clever use in her stories.
A Writer's Career
Ms. Rowling claims that she never shared her secret desire to be a writer with anyone so her success with her first Harry Potter book was a smashing surprise. It went to the number one best seller list very quickly, and she knew that what mattered was that she had written a book she was proud of. I find this very gounding, and heartfelt. Truly, what writer doesn't want to be proud of her work? She was delighted that children and adults liked her work.
Next came the films. Initially she turned film companies down because she wasn't sure they would be true to the book. She finally trusted Warner, and was satisfied that the characters wouldn't be led astray. She said, "The thing I'm most looking forward to is seeing Quidditch. I've been watching it in my head for nine years now - and finally I'll get to see it along with everybody else."
I think she wasn't alone in the imaginings of seeing Quidditch. It was a great performance of film! What if she hadn't set the precedents for the films to be as close to the books as possible? I believe her integrity would have been questioned by her readers. Her fabulous writing has at the very least given reader's something to look forward to- the next book. All the Harry Potter books were translated into films. That is quite an accomplishment for any writer, alive or not.In addition to that, her final title (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) in the series accomplished a feat of record sales (8.3 million) in the first twenty-four hours.
If you were wondering why she goes by J.K. Rowling instead of Joanne Rowling it is because Bloomsbury (her publishing company) feared that young boys wouldn't purchase a book written by a woman. So, they had her change her pen name. She didn't have a middle name so she borrowed her grandmother's, Kathleen.
By the way, before Bloomsbury accepted her manuscript, she had been turned down by 12 others. Maybe 13 was her lucky number? It would seem right given all the magical notions surrounding the number. Thank you J.K.Rowlings for giving the world a great and needed read.