A glimpse into the life and writing of JK Rowling
When you hear the name JK Rowling, the first thing that springs to mind is ‘Harry Potter’, the boy with the lightning scar, famous not only among the wizarding community but among us muggles as well. This article tries to explore a part of the well-known author's life, how she started writing one of the most successful series of all time, as well as some of her other critically acclaimed works.
According to Wikipedia sources, Joanne Kathleen Rowling was born on July 31st, 1965 in England. Even as a young kid, she was able to impress her teachers with her imagination. She was inspired by her favorite teacher, Lucy Shepherd, who taught her the importance of structure and precision in writing. When she was a young teenager, Rowling's great-aunt gave her Hons and Rebels, the autobiography of the civil rights activist Jessica Mitford. Mitford became Rowling's greatest influence, and she read all her books. Living in a small town with pressures at home, Rowling became more interested in her school work and was appointed as the head girl at her school. She applied to Oxford University but was rejected. Rowling had always wanted to be a writer but chose to study French and the classics at the University of Exeter for practical reasons.
Inspiration for Harry Potter
After graduating from the University, she began working temp jobs as a bilingual secretary. While working as a temp, she began writing adult novels, but they were never published. She used to take long train trips from Manchester to London on a regular basis, and it was on one of these trips, in the middle of 1990, when her train was four hours late, that she had the idea for a magical world and three best friends. Without a pen or paper, she was able to thoroughly explore the characters and their narrative in her mind before arriving at her flat and started to write.
Why Harry Potter was quite different from other writings
In Harry Potter, Rowling juxtaposes the extraordinary with the mundane. Her story alternates between ordinary and magical realms, but it varies from your typical fantasy story as in that its magical components stay grounded in the everyday. According to scholar Catherine Butler, the wizarding world is "both strange and cozily familiar" since paintings move and talk, books bite readers, letters shout messages, and maps display live movements.
What sets Rowling’s work apart from the rest was the way she managed to build an entire fictional world centred around our own. As a result, many kids who first read the book were looking forward to receiving their admission letter to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which unfortunately never arrived.
To this day, people of all ages adore the series, whether it's a youngster who just picked up reading or an adult who has read them numerous times and would still pick it up on any given day. This simply goes to prove that there is something in her writing that connects with individuals of all ages.
Rise to fame
Her work was first sent to twelve publishers, who all turned it down. It was later purchased by Barry Cunningham, who was then the head of Bloomsbury Publishing children's literature section. Her first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, was published in 1997 to immediate popular and critical acclaim. Six further best-selling books and eight blockbuster films followed. The books have been translated into over 80 languages, won multiple awards, and sold more than 500 million copies worldwide, becoming the best-selling book series in history.
Under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, the author chose crime fiction for her next books, one of her favourite genres as a reader. The Cuckoo's Calling (2013), The Silkworm (2014), Career of Evil (2015), Lethal White (2018), and Troubled Blood (2020), her first five crime books, all topped national and international bestseller lists and were adapted for television by the BBC and HBO. The sixth book in the series, The Ink Black Heart is recently released. Rowling's goal in writing as Galbraith was to set the books apart from her previous work so that they could be assessed on their own merits.
Why you should read about ‘The Boy Who Lived’
Harry Potter is the perfect book for a young reader to start with since it not only keeps the reader engaged but also allows them to grow along with the characters as they progress through the books. The thrill of being immersed in a world filled with magic, mystery, good vs evil battles, and life-long friendships is enough to keep anyone hooked. It is written in such a way that it does not intimidate the younger readers while simultaneously keeping older readers intrigued by some of the book's adult themes.
In some ways, it helps children come to terms with the realities of life, such as coping with the loss of a loved one, while also giving them hope to fight for what they believe in. The enchantment of Harry Potter will live on for decades to come, as the 20th anniversary of the series was commemorated this year.
This article provides a brief insight into the life of JK Rowling and her career. If you haven't already, I hope this has inspired you to pick yourself a copy of her book and immerse yourself into a world full of magic, from which there’s no turning back. If you ask any fan today if they still like the novels, they will reply with one of the series' most famous quotes: "Always."