J.K. Rowling, the pen name of Joanne Rowling, was born on this day in history on July 31, 1965.
The British author is the creator of the wildly popular and critically acclaimed Harry Potter book series, about a young sorcerer-in-training, as Britannica.com and other sources note.
The “K” stands for Kathleen, her paternal grandmother’s name, according to Rowling’s official website.
“It was added at her publisher’s request, who thought a book by an obviously female author might not appeal to the target audience of young boys,” the source noted.
Rowling grew up in Gloucestershire in England and in Chepstow, Gwent, in Southeast Wales, according to the official J.K. Rowling website.
Peter, her father, was an aircraft engineer at the Rolls Royce factory in Bristol and her mother, Anne, was a science technician in the chemistry department at Wyedean Comprehensive — the school that young Rowling attended, the same site indicated.
Her mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when Rowling was just a teenager.
Her mother passed away in 1990 before the Harry Potter books were published, the same source also said.
From an early age, Rowling aspired to be a writer.
“She wrote her first book at the age of six — a story about a rabbit called Rabbit. When she was 11, she wrote a novel about seven cursed diamonds and the people who owned them,” said Bloomsbury Publishing’s website.
She pursued French and Classics at the University of Exeter.
It’s been reported that Rowling first had the idea for Harry Potter while she was delayed on a train traveling from Manchester to King’s Cross in London in 1990, according to Bloomsbury Publishing.
“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,” the same source recounted.
Rowling arrived in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1993 with three chapters of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” in her suitcase, said Bloomsbury Publishing.
After she completed her first book while training as a teacher, “Harry Potter” was accepted for publication by Bloomsbury.
“Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” — its title in the U.S. is “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” — quickly became a bestseller in 1997.
Succeeding titles were “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).
The seventh and final novel in the series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” was released in 2007.
“Rowling’s phenomenal seven-book fantasy series [is] about adolescent wizard Harry Potter and his adventurous and magical years at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,” said Scholastic.
“Each of the seven books chronicles a year in Harry’s life at Hogwarts.”
Storylines focus on Harry’s struggle against the evil wizard, Lord Voldemort, who killed Harry’s parents and also tried to kill Harry when he was a baby, the same source indicated.
“Because Harry survived the attack, he is famous in the wizarding world. At Hogwarts, Harry forms everlasting friendships, falls in love, faces immense challenges, endures incredible loss and learns to overcome many magical, social and emotional hurdles,” chronicles Scholastic.
Rowling’s creative works were also brought to the big screen.
A film version of Rowling’s first book was released in November 2001.
Directed by Chris Columbus, it starred Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint.
More films in the series were subsequently released: “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” (2002), “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (2004), and “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” in 2005.
A fifth movie, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” was released in 2007.
The film version of the sixth installment in the series, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” was released in 2009.
The final film for the seventh book in the series was released in two installments: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” Part 1 (2010) and Part 2 (2011), according to Biography.com.
Rowling’s first novel for adults, “The Casual Vacancy,” was published in 2012.
She also published the crime novels “The Cuckoo’s Calling” (2013), “The Silkworm” (2014), “Career of Evil” (2015) and “Lethal White” (2018) under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, the British Council notes.
In 2016, Rowling made her screenwriting debut with the film “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” which was the first in a series of new adventures featuring Magizoologist Newt Scamander and set before the time of Harry Potter, according to the official J.K. Rowling website.
The second film, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” was released in 2018 and the third, “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,” was released in 2022.
J.K. Rowling has been married to Dr. Neil Murray since 2001. It is her second marriage, according to reports.
She is the mother of a son, David, born in 2003 and a daughter, Mackenzie, born in 2005.
She is also reportedly the mom of an older daughter, Jessica, born in 1993.
Fans can get a reality experience at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter both in the U.S. and abroad.
There are five major Harry Potter-themed parks and attractions around the world located in Orlando, Florida; Hollywood, California; Beijing, China; Osaka, Japan; and Leavesden, England.
Rowling has said of her childhood, “I lived for books. I was your basic common or garden bookworm, complete with freckles and National Health spectacles.”