Joanne K. Rowling was born on 31 July 1965. She shares the same birthday as Harry Potter. Her parents, Peter and Anne Rowling lived in Yate, Gloucestershire. Her younger sister Diane was born almost two years later.
At age 5, Joanne moved with her family to Winterbourne. Her imagination was already fertile and she wrote fantasy stories for her sister Diane, often involving friendly but mischievous animals.
The Rowling family moved again four years later – this time to a village called Tutshill, also in Gloucestershire. As a small girl, Joanne spent most of her time reading and studying, and she admits that the character of Hermione is based on her own at 11 years of age.
After finishing school, Joanne attended the University of Exeter, where she received a BA in French. After graduation, she spent a year studying in Paris. Her first job was as a researcher for Amnesty International.
Harry Potter originally popped into her mind in 1990, on a train trip from Manchester to London. Over the next five years, Joanne started writing the first story, and plotted the other books as well. The death of her mother, that same year, had a deep effect on her and this is reflected in the young wizard’s tragic story. Joanne always regretted that her mother died without knowing about Harry Potter.
A few months after this loss, Joanne went to live in Porto, Portugal, and started teaching English as a foreign language. There she met her first husband, the television journalist Jorge Arantes. Their only child, Jessica, was born a year later. But by November that same year the couple had separated and Joanne had moved to Edinburgh, Scotland with her daughter.
Whilst taking a post-graduate course in Edinburgh, she completed her first novel, Harry Potter and the Philospher's Stone. She submitted the manuscript to twelve publishing houses and was rejected by all. It was in 1996, a year later, that Bloomsbury took an interest in the manuscript and agreed to publish it.
A few months after publication, the book started winning literary awards. Joanne continued writing the young wizard’s adventures: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was published in July 1998; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in December 1999; Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in July 2000. By this time she was breaking sales records around the world. In October 1998, Warner Bros purchased the film rights to the first two novels.
Joanne waited three years before publishing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, was published in July 2005, and the last installment of the young wizard’s saga was published in July 2007. Today the Harry Potter brand is estimated to be worth around £7 billion. The series has been translated into 65 languages.
Joanne Rowling married Neil Michael Murray in December 2001. The couple have two children: David born in 2003, and Mackenzie born in 2005.