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J K Rowling

Born Joanne Rowling in a village near Bristol in 1965, J K Rowling surely needs no introduction. Her story has been told countless times on TV, newspapers and on the internet – the story of a struggling single mother, writing in an Edinburgh cafe; the story of countless rejections for her first book, Philosopher’s Stone, before it was eventually picked up by Bloomsbury; the story of a meteoric rise to celebrity; and the story of claims of plagiarism and theft, all unfounded.

Rowling studied French & Classics at Exeter University, and spent a year studying in Paris. After graduation, she worked in London for Amnesty International as a researcher. In 1990 she moved to Manchester to be with her then boyfriend, and it was on a delayed train from Manchester to London that the story of Harry Potter first came to her. Although she had been writing since she was six, she had never been published. In late 1990 her mother died of multiple sclerosis:

It was a terrible time. My father, Di and I were devastated; she was only forty five years old and we had never imagined – probably because we could not bear to contemplate the idea – that she could die so young. I remember feeling as though there was a paving slab pressing down upon my chest, a literal pain in my heart.

Following her mother’s death, and to get away for a while, she moved to Portugal and taught English. She married journalist Jorge Arantes, the father of her first child Jessica. They later divorced, and Rowling moved to Edinburgh in 1993. Three years later Bloomsbury agreed to publish Philosopher’s Stone. The final book in the Harry Potter series, The Deathly Hallows, was published in 2007.

JK Rowling married Dr Neil Murray in 2001, and they have two children together. She still lives in Edinburgh. She was awarded an OBE for services to children’s literature in 2001.

Rowling has said that Harry Potter was always intended to be a seven-novel series, and no further books are planned. Her first non-Potter novel, The Casual Vacancy, was published in 2012.

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