J. K. Rowling

From Academic Kids

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J. K. Rowling

Joanne Rowling, OBE (born 31 July 1965 in Yate), commonly known as J.K. Rowling (pronunciation: role-ing, as in rolling stone) is a British fiction writer. Rowling is most famous for being the author of the Harry Potter fantasy series. Rowling's books have gained international attention and have won multiple awards. In February 2004, Forbes magazine estimated her fortune as 576 million, making her the first person to become a U.S. dollar billionaire by writing books; Rowling is also the wealthiest woman in the United Kingdom, well ahead of even Queen Elizabeth II [1] (http://www.forbes.com/2004/02/26/cx_jw_0226rowlingbill04.html) [2] (http://www.forbes.com/lists/results.jhtml?passListId=10&passYear=2004&passListType=Person&searchParameter1=unset&searchParameter2=unset&resultsHowMany=25&resultsSortProperties=%2Bstringfield11%2C-numberfield3&resultsSortCategoryName=Country&fromColumnClick=&bktDisplayField=&bktDisplayFieldLength=&category1=category&category2=category&passKeyword=&resultsStart=301).

Contents

Early Life

Rowling's parents met on a train from King's Cross station to Scotland. Her mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when Rowling was 15; she died in the early 1990s. Rowling also has a sister, Di, two years younger, who is now a lawyer.

Joanne's family moved twice as she was growing up, first to Winterbourne in Bristol and then to Tutshill near Chepstow. She attended secondary school at Wyedean Comprehensive, where she told stories to her fellow students. She studied French at Exeter University, spending a year in Paris as part of her studies. After college she moved to London to work for Amnesty International as a researcher and bilingual secretary. It was during this period that, during a four-hour train trip between King's Cross and Scotland, she had the idea for a story about a young boy who attends a school of wizardry, . According to her, by the time she reached her destination she had the characters and a good part of the plot for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in her head. She began working on the story during her lunch hours.

Rowling then moved to Oporto, Portugal to teach English as a foreign language. While there she married Portuguese TV journalist Jorge Arantes on 16 October 1992. They had one child, a daughter named Jessica Rowling Arantes (born 27 July 1993), before their divorce in 1995. On her divorce she moved to Edinburgh with her daughter, planning to live near her sister. Unemployed and living on welfare, she completed the novel, doing some of the work in an Edinburgh cafe as there was no heating in her home.

After Harry

Rowling's publisher, Bloomsbury, wanted to use initials on the cover of the Harry Potter books, suggesting that if they used an obviously female name, the target group of young boys might be reluctant to buy them. Rowling chose to adopt her grandmother's middle name, Kathleen.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was a huge success, and she has thus far published four sequels. The sales made her a multi-millionaire, and in 2001, she purchased a luxurious 19th-century mansion, Killiechassie House, on the banks of the River Tay in Perthshire, Scotland, where she married her second husband, Dr. Neil Murray, on 26 December 2001.

The Harry Potter series is expected to run to seven volumes, one for each year Harry spends in school. Five of these have already been published. The fifth book, titled Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, was delayed by an unsuccessful plagiarism suit directed towards her by rival author Nancy Stouffer (see below). Rowling took some time off from writing at this point, because during the process of writing the fourth book she felt her workload was too heavy. She said that at one point she had considered breaking her arm to get out of writing, because the pressure on her was too much. After forcing her publishers to drop her deadline, she enjoyed three years of quiet writing, commenting that she spent some time working on something else that she might return to when she is finished with the Harry Potter series. The fifth book was released on 21 June 2003.

In late 2003, she was approached by television producer Russell T. Davies to contribute an episode to the British television science-fiction series Doctor Who. Although she was "amused by the suggestion", she turned the offer down, as she was busy working on the next novel in the Potter series. On 20 December 2004 she announced that the sixth Harry Potter book would be released on 16 July 2005.

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JK on The Simpsons

Rowling has also made a guest appearance as herself on the American cartoon show The Simpsons, in a special British-themed episode entitled "The Regina Monologues".

The Harry Potter books

Harry Potter-related books:

The last two purport to be facsimiles of books mentioned in the novels. Fantastic Beasts is a textbook, while Quidditch is probably the most popular book in the Hogwart's library. They are complete with handwritten annotations and scribblings in the margins, and include introductions by Albus Dumbledore. All proceeds from them go to the UK Comic Relief charity. She has contributed money and support to many other charitable causes, especially research and treatment of multiple sclerosis, from which her mother died in 1990. This death heavily affected her writing, according to Rowling.

Harry Potter movies

A film version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was released in late 2001 and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in 2002.

A darker atmosphere was adopted in the film version of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, attributed to the new director, Alfonso Cuarn. Rowling, who was a fan of Cuarn's work prior to the third film, has stated that the third film is her personal favorite.

Rowling resisted suggestions by the filmmakers that the movies should be filmed in the United States or cast with American actors (only one American appears in the first film). She only reluctantly went along with changing Philosopher's Stone to Sorcerer's Stone, and limited it to the U.S. only. Rowling's insistence on British actors for the main roles resulted in Steven Spielberg passing on the opportunity to direct the series.

Rowling assists Steve Kloves in writing the scripts for the films, ensuring that his scripts do not contradict future books in the series. She says she has told him more about the later books than anybody else, but not everything. She has also said that she has told Alan Rickman and Robbie Coltrane certain secrets about their characters that are not yet revealed.

Lawsuits

Rowling has been involved in a lawsuit over the Harry Potter series, and other litigation has been suggested or rumoured.

Nancy Stouffer

In the late 1990s Nancy Stouffer, an author of children's books published in the 1980s, began to charge publicly that Rowling's books were based on her books, including The Legend of Rah and the Muggles and Larry Potter and His Best Friend Lilly. In 2001 Rowling, Scholastic Press (the American publisher of her books) and Warner Bros. (the producer of the film adaptations) sued Stouffer, asking the court to judge that there was no infringement of Stouffer's trademarks or copyright. Stouffer, who had not previously sued, then filed counterclaims alleging such infringement.

Rowling and her colitigants argued that much of the evidence that Stouffer presented was fraudulent, and asked for sanctions and attorneys' fees as punishment. In September 2002 the court found in Rowling's favour, stating that Stouffer had lied to the court and falsified and forged documents to support her case. Stouffer was fined US$50,000 and ordered to pay part (but not all) of the plaintiffs' costs.

In January 2004 it was reported that Stouffer's appeal against the judgement had been rejected. The appeals court agreed that Stouffer's claims were properly dismissed because "no reasonable juror could find a likelihood of confusion as to the source of the two parties' works". The Court explained:

Stouffer's and Plaintiffs' marks are used in two very different ways. Rowling's use of the term "Muggles" describes ordinary humans with no magical powers while Stouffer's "Muggles" are tiny, hairless creatures with elongated heads. Further, the Harry Potter books are novel-length works and whose primary customers are older children and adults whereas Stouffer's booklets appeal to young children. Accordingly, the District Court correctly dismissed Stouffer's trademark claims.

Stouffer was also ordered to pay the costs of the appeal. A report of the judgement can be found at Entertainment Law Digest (http://www.entlawdigest.com/story.cfm?storyID=3094). The 2002 judgement can be found here: ROWLING v. STOUFFER (http://www.eyrie.org/~robotech/stouffer.htm)

New York Daily News

On 19 June 2003 Rowling and her publisher Scholastic announced that they would sue the New York Daily News for $100 million because the newspaper had printed information on her work Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix before the book's official release date. The novel was due for release on Saturday 21 June, but the newspaper published a plot summary and short quotes on the previous Wednesday. An accompanying image even revealed two pages from the book with legible text. However, the story was complicated further when it was revealed that the paper had purchased the book from a health store whose owner received the novels wholesale and decided to place them in the window. The man claimed he was unaware he was supposed to wait until that Saturday.

Family

On 26 December 2001, Rowling married Dr. Neil Murray (an anaesthetist) in a private ceremony at her home in the Perthshire village of Aberfeldy. On 23 March 2003, Rowling gave birth to her second child, a boy called David Gordon Rowling Murray, at the Simpson Centre for Reproductive Health at the New Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh. On 23 January 2005, Rowling's second child by Dr. Murray was born, fulfilling Rowling's lifelong wish to have three children. The baby girl was named Mackenzie Jean Rowling Murray.

External links

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