J K Rowling Fast Facts

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Here is a look at the life of J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter book series.


Birth date: July 31, 1965

Birth place: Gloucestershire, England

Birth name: Joanne Rowling

Father: Peter Rowling, aircraft factory manager

Mother: Anne (Volant) Rowling, lab technician

Marriages: Neil Murray (December 26, 2001-present); Jorge Arantes (1992-1995, divorced)

Children: with Neil Murray: Mackenzie Jean and David Gordon; with Jorge Arantes: Jessica

Education: University of Exeter, B.A. in French and the Classics, 1986; Moray House School of Education at The University of Edinburgh, 1995-1996, received a postgraduate certificate in modern languages.

Other Facts

Born Joanne Rowling (pronounced roll-ing), she has said that her publishers wanted another initial, so she gave herself the middle name Kathleen, after her paternal grandmother.

The Harry Potter movies were nominated for 12 Academy Awards.


1971 - Writes her first book, “Rabbit,” at age 6.

1987 - Works as a human rights researcher for Amnesty International.

1990 - Comes up with the idea for Harry Potter on a train ride from Manchester to London.

1991-1993 - Teaches English in Portugal.

1994 - On public assistance and living in Edinburgh, Scotland, she writes “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” in coffeehouses while her daughter naps.

June 26, 1997 - “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” is published in the United Kingdom. It comes out in September 1998 in the United States.

July 2, 1998 - The second book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” is published in the United Kingdom. It comes out June 2, 1999, in the United States.

July 8, 1999 - The third book, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” is published in the United Kingdom. It comes out September 8, 1999, in the United States.

1999 - Scholastic, the American publisher of the Harry Potter series, is sued by Nancy Stouffer on grounds of trademark infringement. Stouffer claims elements from the Harry Potter series were taken from her 1984 book “The Legend of Rah and the Muggles.”

July 8, 2000 - “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” the fourth book in the series is published simultaneously in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Australia.

March 2, 2001 - Is awarded an Order of the British Empire by Prince Charles.

March 2001 - “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and “Quidditch Through the Ages,” two books that appear in the Harry Potter series, are published. The proceeds of more than £17 million are donated to the charity Comic Relief.

November 2001 - The first film, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” opens.

2002 - The 1999 lawsuit against Scholastic is dismissed when the judge rules that Stouffer “perpetrated a fraud” on the court.

June 21, 2003 - “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” the fifth book in the series is published.

2004 - Forbes estimates Rowling’s worth at $1 billion, making her the first billion-dollar author.

July 16, 2005 - The sixth book, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” is published.

September 6, 2005 - Unveiling of Rowling’s official portrait for the National Portrait Gallery of London.

July 21, 2007 - The seventh and final book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” is released and sells 8.3 million copies in the United States in its first 24 hours.

October 2007 - Along with Warner Brothers, sues publishing house RDR Books for copyright infringement regarding the Harry Potter brand. RDR is planning to release an encyclopedia of the seven Harry Potter books. Rowling is planning her own book of the same nature with the proceeds to go to charity.

June 5, 2008 - Delivers the commencement address at Harvard University and also receives an honorary degree.

September 8, 2008 - Wins lawsuit against RDR Books’ Steven Jan Vander Ark, the author of a lexicon of the world of Harry Potter. The judgment blocks publication and awards damages of $6,750.

September 20, 2008 - Announces she donated £1 million to the Labour Party.

January 16, 2009 - Vander Ark’s rewritten and renamed book, “The Lexicon: An Unauthorized Guide to Harry Potter Fiction and Related Materials,” is released. This book is supposed to be a complete reference work for all seven Harry Potter novels.

February 2009 - French President Nicolas Sarkozy presents the Legion of Honor award to Rowling.

June 2009 - Rowling and her British publisher, Bloomsbury, are named in a lawsuit filed in London when relatives for the estate of writer Adrian Jacobs, who died in 1997, claim Rowling plagiarized her fourth book “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” and other material from Jacobs’ 1987 book “The Adventures of Willy the Wizard.”

2010 - Donates £10 million for a research clinic at The University of Edinburgh. The Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic is named after Rowling’s mother, who died in 1990 from complications related to multiple sclerosis.

June 18, 2010 - Grand opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando.

November 19, 2010 - The movie “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1” opens in the UK and the United States.

January 2011 - A federal judge in New York dismisses the US plagiarism case filed by the relatives of Jacobs.

June 23, 2011 - Via YouTube, Rowling announces a new project, Pottermore.com, that will be part digital interactive playground and part e-store where the entire Harry Potter series will be available as e-books for the first time.

July 15, 2011 - The final movie in the series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2,” opens in the United States and the UK.

July 2011 - The British plagiarism lawsuit filed by the relatives of Jacobs ends after the claimants fail to pay the mandated security amount.

November 24, 2011 - Testifies before the Leveson Inquiry regarding journalistic standards in the UK. In her testimony she reviews parts of her 33-page statement given November 2, where she states that some members of the British journalism community engage in, “…behaviour that is illegal, and I think unjustifiably intrusive.”

September 27, 2012 - A new book, “The Casual Vacancy,” her first novel specifically geared toward adults, is published.

July 14, 2013 - In a statement to the media, Rowling reveals “The Cuckoo’s Calling,” a crime novel by Robert Galbraith published in April 2013, was really written by her.

March 8, 2016 - Rowling begins releasing a series of short stories titled “Magic in North America” on Pottermore.com. The four-part series is released daily until March 11.

July 30, 2016 - “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” opens as a two-part play in London’s West End at the Palace Theatre. The production goes on to open in six countries, on four continents.

July 31, 2016 - The script for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” is published.

November 18, 2016 - Rowling’s screenwriting debut, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” opens in theaters.

November 2018 - Rowling files a lawsuit in Scotland against Amanda Donaldson, her former assistant. Donaldson was fired in February for theft.

November 16, 2018 - “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” written by Rowling, opens in movie theaters.

April 4, 2019 - The Judiciary of Scotland rules that Donaldson must repay Rowling £18,734 for fraudulent misrepresentation over missing funds.

December 19, 2019 - Rowling tweets in support of Maya Forstater, a woman who lost her job after suggesting that transgender people cannot change the biological sex they were born with.

May 26, 2020 - A new serialized story called “The Ickabog” is published online to entertain children during coronavirus lockdown.

June 10, 2020 - In an essay published to her website, Rowling explains her views on gender identity after facing criticism for her controversial tweets that were perceived by some as transphobic. In the 3,600-word piece, Rowling writes why she has joined the UK’s polarizing trans debate, revealing that she is “a domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor” and has “concerns around single sex spaces.”

October 12, 2021 - “The Christmas Pig,” Rowling’s first children’s novel since Harry Potter, is published.

March 29, 2022 - The third Fantastic Beasts film, “The Secrets of Dumbledore” premieres in London.

February 21, 2023 - The podcast called “The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling” premieres. Rowling has indicated she’ll discuss reaction to comments deemed anti-trans – in addition to discussing her journey as an author – with host Megan Phelps-Roper, a high-profile former member of the anti-LGBTQ Westboro Baptist Church.

April 12, 2023 - Warner Bros. Discovery announces that the “Harry Potter” franchise will take on new life at the studio’s newly minted streaming service Max in the form of a scripted television series that is expected to run for 10 years. (CNN and Max are both part of the same parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery.)

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