JK Rowling was born Joanne Rowling on July 31, 1965, in Yate, England. She adopted her pen name, J.K., incorporating her grandmother’s name, Kathleen, for the latter initial (Rowling does not have a middle name), little did she know she will bring magic in the world.
A graduate of the University of Exeter, Rowling moved to Portugal in 1990 to teach English. There, she met and married the Portuguese journalist Jorge Arantes. The couple’s daughter, Jessica, was born in 1993. After her marriage ended in divorce, Rowling moved to Edinburgh with her daughter to live near her younger sister, Di.
While struggling to support her daughter Jessica and herself on welfare, Rowling worked on her first book in the Harry Potter series. The idea for the book reportedly occurred to her while she was traveling on a train from Manchester to London in 1990.
The Harry Potter series sparked great enthusiasm among children and was credited with generating a new interest in reading. Film versions of the books were released in 2001–11 and became some of the top-grossing movies in the world. In addition, Rowling wrote the companion volumes Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them (2001), which was adapted into a film series (2016, 2018) that featured screenplays by Rowling; Quidditch Through the Ages (2001); and The Tales of Beedle the Bard (2008)—all of which originated as books read by Harry Potter and his friends within the fictional world of the series. Proceeds from their sales were donated to charity.
Rowling has lived a “rags to riches” life in which she progressed from living on benefits to being named the world’s first billionaire author by Forbes. However, Rowling disputed the assertion, saying she was not a billionaire. Forbes reported that she lost her billionaire status after giving away much of her earnings to charity. Her UK sales total in excess of £238 million, making her the best-selling living author in Britain. Rowling was appointed a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) at the 2017 Birthday Honours for services to literature and philanthropy. In October 2010, she was named the “Most Influential Woman in Britain” by leading magazine editors. Rowling has supported multiple charities, including Comic Relief, One Parent Families, and Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain, as well as launching her own charity, Lumos.