J.K. Rowling Biography
Joanne "Jo" Rowling was born on 31st July 1965 in Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire and her life would make a great blockbuster film.
But it would have to begin with her parents' meeting, which was even more romantic than their daughter's life. Her parents were both Londoners and met on a train when they were 18-years-old. He was off to join the Royal Navy and she was on her way to join the Wrens. They married a year after they met, and Jo was born when her mother was 20.
Jo's earliest memory was playing with a piece of plastecine in the kitchen, while mother was giving birth to her sister Di in the bedroom next door. Jo was one year eleven months old.
She also has a clear memory of her father leading her by the hand into the bedroom and seeing her mother in a nightgown, with her naked new sister, who had a shock of black hair, on the bed beside her.
When she was 4-years-old the family moved to Winterbourne, near Bristol and she has never forgotten the children of her neighbours who had the surname Potter, because she thought it was so much nicer than her own name.
She began writing at the age of 6-years-old, and her first story "Rabbit" featured a large bee called "Miss Bee."
She was very close to Di and at Winterbourne they would play a game on the stairs re-enacting over and over again a cliff-top drama when one of them would hang over the top stair holding the hand of the other. The one who was dangling would beg the other one not to let go, offering all sorts of bribes, before falling to her death.
When Jo was 9-years-old they moved again to Tutshill, a small village outside Chepstow in Wales. The move coincided with the death of her favourite grandmother Kathleen, and it was her initial Jo added to her name when she became J.K. Rowling.
At her secondary school she met Sean Harris to whom "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" is dedicated, and he owned the original Ford Anglia that is featured in the film.
When she was 15 her mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis which was a big shock for all the family. She became slowly, but steadily worse after she was diagnosed.
Jo left school and went to Exeter University to study French as her parents advised her to become a bilingual secretary, but when she graduated she decided it was not the job for her. She described herself As "the worst secretary ever," very disorganised as she never concentrated during meetings, she was too busy writing a story. That story was about a Wizard.
In 1990 her boyfriend at the time decided they should move to Manchester, and they went flat-hunting together. It was while she was travelling back on her own on a crowded train Harry Potter was conceived. She began writing "The Philosopher's Stone," that evening.
They moved to Manchester and she took her growing manuscript with her, but a family tragedy put her life and writing on hold. Her mother died on December 30th 1990 aged just 45.
Nine months later, to get over her mother's death, she went to Portugal to teach English at a Language Institute. She took her manuscript with her because she only taught afternoons and evenings.
While she was in Portugal she met a Portugese television journalist, Jorge Arantes and they got married. Their daughter Jessica was born in 1963 and shortly after her birth they separated.
Jo and Jessica returned to Scotland and arrived in Edinburgh in time for Christmas 1993. She had intended to return to teaching but first she had to do a year-long course to get a Post Graduate Certificate of Education. She decided to finish her manuscript and get it published first, and whilst looking after her daughter she would rush to local cafes and write away, then she had to type it out on an old manual typewriter.
She sent the first three chapters off in a neat plastic folder to an agent, who sent it back by return. The second agent asked to see the rest of the book but also rejected it. She was turned down by several agents before Christopher Little took her on. He sent the book out to 12 publishers who all rejected it then Barry Cunningham of Bloomsbury gave her a £1500 advance.
Although they were publishing it Cunningham told her to get a day job as she would never make money from a children's book.
In 2000 she established the Volant Charitable Trust to combat poverty and social inequality, and the fund gives money to organisations to aid children, one-parent families and MS Research.
On December 26th 2001 she married Neil Michael Murray at a private ceremony at her Aberfieldy home, and their son David Gordon Rowland Murray was born on 24th March 2003.