Joanne Kathleen Rowling was born on July 31, 1965, in Chipping Sodbury, near Bristol, England. A single mother living in Edinburgh, Scotland, Rowling became an international literary sensation in 1999, when the first three installments of her Harry Potter children's book series took over the top three slots of the New York Times best-seller list after achieving similar success in her native United Kingdom. The phenomenal response to Rowling's books culminated in July 2000, when the fourth volume in the series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, became the fastest-selling book in history. A graduate of Exeter University, Rowling moved to Portugal in 1990 to teach English. There, she met and married a Portuguese journalist. 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 Jessica and herself on welfare, Rowling worked on a book, the idea for which had reportedly occurred to her while she was traveling on a train from Manchester to London in 1990. After a number of rejections, she finally sold the book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (the word "Philosopher" was changed to "Sorcerer" for its publication in America), for the equivalent of about $4,000.
By the summer of 2000, the first three Harry Potter books: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban earned approximately $480 million in three years, with over 35 million copies in print in 35 languages. In July 2000, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire saw a first printing of 5.3 million copies and advance orders of over 1.8 million. Rowling, now one of Britain's richest women, plans a total of seven books in the series, each chronicling a year in the life of Harry Potter, a young wizard, and his motley band of cohorts at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The fifth installment, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, is due to hit book stores June 21st, 2003, roughly 3 years since the fourth book.
A film version of Harry Potter and the Sorcererís Stone, directed by Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire) was released November 16th, 2001. In its opening weekend in the U.S., the film debuted on a record 8,200 screens and smashed the previous box office record, earning an estimated $93.5 million ($20 million more than the previous recordholder, 1999's The Lost World: Jurassic Park). It ended the year as the top-grossing movie of 2001. The second film in the series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, opened on November 15th, 2002 and had the third best opening weekend in box office history.
In late December 2001, Rowling married the anesthetist Dr. Neil Murray at the couple's home in Scotland. Her second child and first son, David Gordon Rowling Murray, was born on March 24th, 2003, at the new Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh. To care for their son, Rowling publicly planned less appearances and book signigns for the fifth book. Work on the sixth Harry Potter book of the series, that of which we do not yet know the title, is said to have already started, but will not be expected until 2005.
Where to Write to Her
J. K. Rowling c/o Scholastic Inc. 555 Broadway New York, NY 10012
J. K. Rowling c/o Bloomsbury Publishing 38 Soho Square London W1V 5DF UK