Joanne "Jo" Rowling (born 31 July 1965), pen name J. K. Rowling, is a British novelist, best known as the author of the Harry Potter fantasy series. The Potter books have gained worldwide attention, won multiple awards, and sold more than 400 million copies. They have become the best-selling book series in history, and been the basis for a series of films which has become the highest-grossing film series in history. Rowling had overall approval on the scripts as well as maintaining creative control by serving as a producer on the final instalment.
Born in Yate, Gloucestershire, Rowling was working as a researcher and bilingual secretary for Amnesty International when she conceived the idea for the Harry Potter series on a delayed train from Manchester to London in 1990. The seven-year period that followed entailed the death of her mother, divorce from her first husband and poverty until Rowling finished the first novel in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (1997). Rowling subsequently published 6 sequels—the last, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007)—as well as 3 supplements to the series. Since then, Rowling has parted with her agency and resumed writing for adult readership, releasing the tragicomedy The Casual Vacancy (2012) and—using the pseudonym Robert Galbraith—the crime fiction novel The Cuckoo's Calling (2013) which, according to Rowling, is the first of a series.
Rowling has led a "rags to riches" life story, in which she progressed from living on state benefits to multi-millionaire status within five years. She is the United Kingdom's best-selling author since records began, with sales in excess of £238m. The 2008 Sunday Times Rich List estimated Rowling's fortune at £560 million ($798 million), ranking her as the twelfth richest woman in the United Kingdom. Forbes ranked Rowling as the forty-eighth most powerful celebrity of 2007, and TIME magazine named her as a runner-up for its 2007 Person of the Year, noting the social, moral, and political inspiration she has given her fans. In October 2010, Rowling was named the "Most Influential Woman in Britain" by leading magazine editors. She has become a notable philanthropist, supporting such charities as Comic Relief, One Parent Families, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain and Lumos (formerly the Children's High Level Group).
Although she writes under the pen name "J. K. Rowling" (pronounced rolling), the author's name when her first Harry Potter book was published was simply "Joanne Rowling". Anticipating that the target audience of young boys might not want to read a book written by a woman, her publishers demanded that she use two initials, rather than her full name. As she had no middle name, she chose K as the second initial of her pen name, from her paternal grandmother. She calls herself "Jo" and has said, "No one ever called me 'Joanne' when I was young, unless they were angry." Following her marriage, she has sometimes used the name Joanne Murray when conducting personal business. During the Leveson Inquiry she gave evidence under the name of Joanne Kathleen Rowling. In a 2012 interview, Rowling noted that she no longer cared that people pronounced her name incorrectly.
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