Joanne Rowling, OBE (born 31 July 1965), better known by her pen name J.K. Rowling,note is a British writer, most notable for being the author of the Harry Potter heptalogy. She is one of the richest and most influential women alive today, with the distinction of being the first US-dollar billionaire exclusively through writing.
Rowling's life story is also famous — at least the Potter-related details of it.
The initial idea for Harry Potter "fell into her head" as she was riding on a train; even though the idea seized her, she had nothing on which to write and was too shy to ask a stranger to loan some paper. Early on in the writing process on Philosopher's Stone, Rowling's mother passed away, which "changed her world and Harry's forever", intensifying Harry's feelings of being orphaned.
Further intensifying Harry's loneliness is the fact that Rowling was poor when she began writing; she and her baby girl lived on benefits at a time of high government cuts. The oft-spread image of Rowling writing in a cafe is one born since moving was the easiest way to make her daughter fall asleep, and she would duck into the nearest cafe to write. She has repeatedly refuted the persistent myth that she did so because her apartment was unheated, such as in this interview.
After that, history took its course. Harry Potter is one of the biggest brands in existence today; in an age of Internet, Video Games and mass Television saturation, Harry made reading cool again. This may be Rowling's most important contribution of all.
Rowling has developed a Signature Style (though, apparently, she's also good at hiding it). If you're reading one of her books, expect a story set 20 Minutes into the Past with an Intro-Only Point of View, a Plot-Triggering Death, numerous characters with Meaningful Names (just don't get too attached to them), Said Bookisms, generous lampshaded Narm, and plentiful Foreshadowing for her overstuffed Chekhov's Armoury.
Rowling's first post-Potter book was The Casual Vacancy, released on 27 September 2012 and marketed as her "first novel for adults." After mixed reviews, Rowling followed up with The Cuckoo's Calling, a crime novel starring hardboiled P.I. Cormoran Strike. This time, she published under a pseudonym, Robert Galbraith, and stayed under the radar for four months before being outed. A sequel, The Silkworm was published in 2014, still under the pen name. As of 2023, three more novels in the series have been released.
On 12 September 2013, Warner Bros. announced they will produce a new series of Harry Potter Spin-Off films based on Rowling's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, with the book's fictional author Newt Scamander as the protagonist. It takes place in the same world as Harry Potter, but set 70 years before the events of the first book. Rowling wrote the screenplay for the first two films by herself but Steve Kloves was brought on to help her with the third as a co-writer, though he’d helped enough with the first two to get a producing credit. The series is set to have five instalments, with three released as of April 2023.
In 2020, she published The Ickabog, her first children's book unrelated to Harry Potter.
Since late 2019, Rowling has been a vocal opponent of self-identification for transgender people. This has attracted controversy and led to further scrutiny of her writing, with many highlighting the presence of questionable tropes such as house elves loving their enslavement and a perception of goblins as antisemitic caricatures.
She ended at #83 in 100 Greatest Britons.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (1997, film released in 2001, renamed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in the United States)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007, made it to the silver screen in 2010 and 2011)
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (stage play; story cowritten with John Tiffany and Jack Thorne, turned into a script written by Thorne)
Additional content in the Potter world
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as Newt Scamander. Proceeds originally went to a charity.
- Quidditch Through the Ages, under the pen name Kennilworthy Whisp. Proceeds, again, went to a charity.
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard, released in December 2008. Prior to its commercial release, Rowling made seven copies which were hand-written by her and given to her close friends, save one, which was auctioned for charity.
- Fantastic Beasts
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (the screenplay was published in late 2016)
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (also with an accompanying screenplay, published in late 2018)
- Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (with Steve Kloves, 2022)
- The Casual Vacancy (2012)
- Cormoran Strike Novels as Robert Galbraith:
- The Cuckoo's Calling (2013)
- The Silkworm (2014)
- Career of Evil (2015)
- Lethal White (2018)
- Troubled Blood (2020)
- The Ink Black Heart (2022)
- The Ickabog (2020)
- The Christmas Pig (2021)
- Appeared as herself on The Simpsons.
- Played by Jennifer Saunders for Comic Relief 2003: The Big Hair Do.
- Played by Angela Scowen on an episode of Celebrity Deathmatch, where she did battle with Stephen King.
- Played by Amy Poehler in a Saturday Night Live sketch following the Word of Gay on Dumbledore. Awesome as Amy Poehler is, she's... not good at doing a British accent.
- Played by Chad Morgan in one of Robot Chicken's "Dicks with Time Machine" sketches, in which one of the title time travellers tries to prevent her from writing the Harry Potter series.
- She was the subject of a Made For TV Biopic named Magic Beyond Words: The J. K. Rowling Story, in which she was played by Poppy Montgomery of Without a Trace fame.
- Acclaimed Flop: She wrote a detective novel called The Cuckoo's Calling under the pen name Robert Galbraith that received strong reviews but only sold about 1,500 copies. However, sales increased sharply after the author's true identity was revealed.
- Adam Westing: Mildly in her brief appearance on The Simpsons. To date, this is the only time Rowling has played herself in any fictional context (and it was just two lines).note Lisa: You've turned a generation of kids onto reading.
Rowling: Thank you, young Muggle.
Lisa: Can you tell me what happens at the end of the series?
Rowling: [exasperated] He grows up and marries you. Is that what you want to hear?
Lisa: [dreamily] Yes...
Rowling: [rolls eyes and walks off]
- Author Avatar:
- Hermione is based on a younger Rowling. Apparently, she split her personality into three parts when designing the Golden Trio, but, according to Word of God, Hermione is the one with the most aspects of her personality.
- Robin Ellacott is, again, based on Word of God, modelled after her early adult self.
- Author Usurpation: While Rowling has written successful books after finishing Harry Potter, discussion about her career always focuses on Harry Potter and nothing else.
- Beam Me Up, Scotty!:
- She never actually wrote the first book on the back of a napkin (she had napkins but was too shy to borrow a pen, so she had to spend the entire trip juggling the story in her head). When she heard this rumour, she laughed and joked that they'll be saying that she wrote it on teabags next.
- Nor is she the playwright for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, as was also widely reported; Jack Thorne wrote the book based on a story by Rowling, Thorne and John Tiffany. This confusion is at least more understandable, as she did write the screenplay for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
- Black Comedy: All her novels are full of it.
- Cluster F-Bomb: In all of her adult novels to date. Almost every other word.
- Country Matters: She's very versatile with the word "cunt", especially in The Casual Vacancy. Though it should be noted that, while it's still a strong curse word, "cunt" isn't considered quite as shocking in the UK as it is in the States.
- Creator Backlash: She's not too happy about her work being the Trope Namer for Draco in Leather Pants. For the most part, she laughed it off but is concerned about the influence this mindset might have on young women.
- Creator Breakdown: Early on in the makings of Harry Potter her mother passing away from a years-long battle with multiple sclerosis influenced the more emotionally heavy moments in the story. The theme of death in the last novel was rooted to a lot of Rowling's own feelings about the subject and her faith.
- Dear Negative Reader: While Rowling has largely embraced the fandom of Harry Potter, she has gone on record of disliking the Misaimed Fandom that Draco Malfoy had developed, and is uncomfortable with the more lewd fanfictions, considering how the series revolves around minors.
- Deuteragonist: All of her work since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has focused on more than one central character (even her expansions to the Potter universe).
- Doorstopper: All of her work between Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Career of Evil was at least 400 pages long. The streak was finally broken with the published script for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (304 pages); though this is justified by it being a film script rather than a novel, and 300+ pages is still extremely hefty for a script.
- Executive Meddling: Actually, she was the executive, and prevented some more "questionable" decisions that Warner Bros. was looking to do with the stories, one of the most famous being her demand that the films be filmed in the UK with a cast of UK actors.
- God Never Said That:
- The rather infamous Ship Sinking interview with Mugglenet. Rowling got attributed with a certain faction of shippers for calling them delusional when it was actually the interviewers who stated it.Emerson Spartz: We thought it was clearer than ever that Harry and Ginny are an item and Ron and Hermione - although we think you made it painfully obvious in the first five books -
J. K. Rowling: [points to herself and whispers] So do I!
Emerson Spartz: What was that?
J.K. Rowling: [More loudly] Well. so do I! So do I!
Emerson Spartz: Harry/Hermione shippers: delusional!
J.K. Rowling: Well no, I'm not going to - Emerson, I am not going to say they're delusional! They are still valued members of my readership! I am not going to use the word delusional.
- To wit, she admitted that the pairing of Ron/Hermione was partly Wish Fulfilment, and that it might not have worked out as an adult relationship, while simultaneously confessing that she felt that Harry/Hermione could have worked (which, frankly, she has stated before). She mentioned (in the same interview) that while Ron and Hermione could still work, she could have written it better and for the right reasons.
- And while we're at it, no, Nagini is not the boa constrictor that Harry set free in Philosopher's Stone.
- The rather infamous Ship Sinking interview with Mugglenet. Rowling got attributed with a certain faction of shippers for calling them delusional when it was actually the interviewers who stated it.
- Godwin's Law: Used in her essay on Scottish independence when she compared some separatists to the Death Eaters after they accused her of not being Scottish enough to express an opinion.
- Funetik Aksent: Rowling will often write out dialogue phonetically for characters with more "unusual" accents. Hagrid, Stan Shunpike, Fleur Delacour, Madame Maxime, Viktor Krum and other Durmstrang students get this treatment in Harry Potter, while characters with Cockney accents get it in her Cormoran Strike Novels.
- Homage: Writing under her post-Potter synonym as "Robert Galbraith", she revealed in a BBC interview in November 2015 that she is a fan of the Blue Öyster Cult. "Robert Galbraith"'s novel Career of Evil is inspired by a BOC song of the same title. She admitted to loading the book with a lot of Shout Outs to other lyrics and songs by this band.
- Moustache de Plume:
- She actually doesn't even have a middle name. She added the "K" (after her grandmother Kathleen) when Bloomsbury asked her to use her initials, thinking that boys would be wary of reading a book from a woman writer.
- Played even more straight with The Cuckoo's Calling which she published as "Robert Galbraith"
- Plot-Triggering Death: Used frequently in her novels.
- Lily and James Potter and Voldemort, kind of in the Harry Potter series
- Lula Landry in The Cuckoo's Calling
- Barry Fairbrother in The Casual Vacancy
- Shown Their Work: Before she wrote Harry Potter, she once worked as a researcher and bilingual secretary for Amnesty International in London. Rowling herself once said in her commencement speech at Harvard that it gave her a look into various human abuse, a theme that is prevalent in Comoran Strike books.
- What Could Have Been:
- She turned down Michael Jackson's offer to write a HP musical.
- How might HP have turned out had her mother not died?
- The original pitch for the Harry Potter film was for it to be a CGI film, with Haley Joel Osment being the voice of Harry, and taking place in America. Rowling nixed that.
- Rowling was tapped to contribute to the revival series of Doctor Who on two separate occasions, only for the idea to fall through both times. The first time, she was contacted by showrunner Russell T. Davies, who wanted her to pen a guest episode, only for her to turn the idea down due to her being busy writing Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The second time, Davies intended to have her play a fictionalized version of herself in a Christmas special where an alien parasite uses her imagination to reshape the world in the Harry Potter franchise's likeness. When that idea fell though, the special was rewritten as "The Next Doctor".
- Write What You Know:
- The first Strike novel, The Cuckoo's Calling, carries a spirited denunciation of the British tabloid press (which spent years intruding into Rowling's life—and not always in a peaceful manner, either). The Silkworm, its first sequel, revolves around novelists.
- The Ink Black Heart is a book about toxic fandom and the harassment of a female creator by the internet. It was written after Rowling's controversial views on transgender rights led to a social media backlash.
- Writers Cannot Do Math: As Rowling admits. Mostly it takes the form of dating inconsistencies which make it hard for fans to construct a timeline of the series. The number of students in Hogwarts is also a point of contention, as are the House points added up at the end of each school year.