#WhenIGrowUp Wednesdays: Joanne Rowling

RESEARCHER | SECRETARY | EFL TEACHER | WELFARE MOM | AUTHOR

Today, Joanne Rowling (a.k.a. J.K. Rowling, Robert Galbraith) is known around the world for the Harry Potter film franchise, and the series of books upon which it was based. She also has a net worth of more than $850 million, a property in London, and another in Scotland. Rowling is the founder of the Volant Charitable Trust, the recipient of multiple honorary degrees, and an international celebrity. Few of us will ever achieve that level of success, or even dare to dream in those terms, but Rowling’s journey is only remarkable by the level of her achievement, not by the path that took her there.

JK RowlingBorn in 1965, Rowling was raised with her sister in a two-parent household in England. Her mother suffered from multiple sclerosis; her relationship with her father was strained, and as a teen Rowling struggled with depression. She wasn’t an exceptional student, but was competent, good in English, and completed her work. She graduated from Exeter University in 1986 with a B.A. in French and Classics.

After a few years of office work, Rowling moved to Portugal to teach English as a foreign language. There, she met her first husband, television journalist Jorge Arantes. Their daughter was born in July, 1993; they separated in November of that year. The marriage ended with rumours of abuse. Rowling left Portugal with her daughter, Jessica, and moved to Scotland to be near her sister. Upon their arrival, she registered for state benefits.

Seven years after graduating from university, Rowling saw herself as a failure.[1] Her marriage had ended, and she was jobless with a dependent child, but to her this was liberating, and it allowed her to focus on writing.  – Wikipedia

The first Harry Potter book was completed in Scotland while Rowling was on welfare. She wrote at her kitchen table, and worked on the book in cafes with her sleeping daughter beside her. Did her desire to write appear out of nowhere? No, she had always wanted to be a writer.

Rowling had grown up surrounded by books. She was a voracious reader, and wrote fantasy stories as a child. In university, she put reading ahead of her studies, and even accumulated a £50 fine for overdue books. The idea for Harry Potter came in 1990 on a train trip from Manchester to London. She began to make notes, then took all of them with her to Portugal. When she returned to Britain, in her suitcase was a draft of the first three chapters of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and an outline of all seven books in the series…

So, let’s be inspired by the successes of others, and let’s continue to dream ‘the impossible.’ Put aside the obstacles, close your eyes, and finish the sentence: When I grow up, I want to be…

[1] JK Rowling (June 2008). “JK Rowling: The fringe benefits of failure”. TED. Archived from the original on 30 April 2011. Retrieved 5 March 2011Failure & imagination

Sources: Biography, J.K. RowlingWikipedia

~ Debbie MacLeod


The CREATIVE CHANGE-MAKING Conference has been organized to showcase local heroes, individuals from within our own communities, who are creating their own path, leading by example, and following their dreams through purposeful work.

Intrigued? Come listen to the stories. Ask questions. Be inspired to change your life!

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