Joanne Kathleen Rowling was born in Chipping Sodbury, near Bristol, in southwest England. Her birthday, is July 31, the same as her famous boy-wizard hero.
The family, including her parents and younger sister Di, lived in Yate and then Winterbourne, also near Bristol. Her father worked on airplane engines for Rolls Royce. When Joanne was nine, the Rowlings moved to Tutshill, near Chepstow, England, close to the border of Wales.
Joanne—called Jo by her family and friends—did well in school, and in her senior year was the top girl in her class.
A Storyteller from the Start
After graduating from public school with top honors in English, French, and German, Rowling went on to study French at the University of Exeter. She earned her degree in 1986 and over the next several years held a variety of secretarial jobs, including one at a publishing firm, where she had to send out rejection letters to prospective authors.
What she really wanted to do, however, was write. Rowling wrote her first story, Rabbit, about a rabbit with measles, at age five or six. Later, she tried her hand at writing novels, for adults. But she never finished writing any novel before she wrote the Harry Potter books.
Harry Potter Is Born
Rowling started writing the first Harry Potter book in 1990. The idea for Harry came to Rowling while she was stuck on a delayed train between Manchester and London. Although she left England a short time later to teach English in Portugal, Rowling continued to flesh out Harry's story.
Rowling returned to Britain in 1993, settling in Edinburgh, Scotland, to be near her sister. Divorced after a brief marriage in Portugal and now with a baby, she suffered through a period of poverty and depression while she struggled to earn a living and take care of her daughter, Jessica. It was during this difficult time that she finally completed Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, which was renamed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone for the U.S. edition.
Success at Last
Following its publication in Britain in June 1997, the book quickly became a hit with children and adults alike and won numerous awards, including the British Book Awards' Children's Book of the Year. Rowling always envisioned the book as part of a seven-volume series—one book for every year that Harry spends at Hogwarts—and a new Harry Potter book appeared every year for the next three years. These were Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999), and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000). These were followed by two short books from Harry Potter's world, Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2001). The profits from those two went to a British charity, Comic Relief.
Rowling's road to fame and fortune may have been a bit rocky at times, but her success has been sure. In 2000, the 35-year-old author became the highest-earning woman in Britain, netting more than £20.5 million (about $30 million) over the previous year. She received an OBE (Order of the British Empire), a medal of achievement awarded by the queen, in March 2001. At the end of that same year, she married her second husband, Dr. Neil Murray. On March 23, 2003, Rowling's second child, David Gordon Rowling Murray, was born.
Not Just Another Best-Seller
On June 21, 2003, three months after David was born, the fifth book of the Harry Potter series was released. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix broke the previous record for first-day sales by a book, which had been set by Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The fourth book sold 372,775 copies in the United Kingdom the day it was released; the fifth one sold almost 1.8 million. The United States sales figures were even more impressive. All told, Order of the Phoenix sold about seven million copies the day it was released.
The Harry Potter books have been translated into more than 55 languages, and it has been estimated that more than 250 million copies have been sold around the world. The first three books have been made into films.
In February 2004, Forbes magazine estimated that Rowling had £576 million, or more than a billion dollars. This would make her the first person ever to become a billionaire from writing books.
A New Muggle Arrives
Rowling gave birth to a baby girl, Mackenzie Jean Rowling Murray, on January 25, 2005.
Harry is in his 6th year of school al Hogwarts and things are not going so well for him. Voldemort, the dark wizard that wants to kill him, is alive, free and killing again and is going after him. At the same time, Dumbledore is doing everything he can to help Harry in his quest against Voldemort. This time the help comes in the form of classes, Dumbledore is teaching Harry things about Voldemort´s past to find his weaknesses. And they find them, Horcruxes, objects in witch Voldemort put bits of his soul and, in order to kill Voldemort, Harry and Dumbledore have to destroy all his horcruxes. Harry knows for well that one of them is going to die, Voldemort or him, so he has to put all his efforts in his classes with Dumbledore but without forgetting about his other subjects. What is more, this time Harry thinks that Vodemort has an allied, inside Hogwarts, Draco Malfoy, and he suspects that Draco is up to something but he doesn't discover what is until the end. Draco´s mission was to kill Dumbledore...and he achieves it.
Besides all this, Harry has a new potions teacher but not a new potions book. He is given a book used by someone else before, a potions master that calls himself “The Half-Blood Prince”. This Half-Blood Prince helps Harry through his whole school year in potions and in other subjects too; this book has some enchantments, invented by the Prince that helps Harry to go through lots of situations. At the end of the book, we discover that the Half-Blood Prince is not other than his Defense against the Dark-Arts teacher.
This story has a particular thing, it doesn't end at the end of the school year like the other stories, it ends a lot before because Dumbledore, the headmaster, is killed by Snape (a school teacher). As a consequence of this, Harry decides that he is not going back the next school year in order to find all the missing horcruxes and kill Voldemort (for once and for all).
What is not new in this story are Ron and Hermione, Harry's unconditional friends that help him in all they can.
The love component is not missing this time. Ron finds a girlfriend, Harry starts dating Ginny (Ron's sister) and, at the end, Ron and Hermione realize what they feel for each other.
The most important theme of this whole story is the fight between good and evil. There's also love, envy, hate and sadness too, but mostly, revenge, that's all what Harry is looking for since this story began.
Mostly this story happens in Hogwarts, the school of Witchcraft and Wizardry. However, there are some chapters in witch Harry and Dumbledore go to a cave that, I suppose, is on England's coast.
About the timing, I think that this story is timeless, you can read it now or in ten years and you will have the feeling that the things are happening right now. There's not any component that indicates time.
Harry Potter: the protagonist. He is a sixteen year old boy, tall, very thin, with black hair that he can't ever comb and green eyes. Harry is an orphan because his parents were killed by Voldemort. He's not much of the studious type but he's very clever. He uses all of his intelligence to survive from all the dangerous situations he has been in. He's a great friend and a great person, he always does the things not for his own sake but for the rest of the people.
Albus Dumbledore: the headmaster of the school. A tall, thin, very old man that has always protected Harry, since he was born. He's like Harry's guardian. Dumbledore played a very important role in this story because he was the only one that Voldemort feared. He's the greatest wizard ever known; his only weakness is that he trusts too much in people. That's why he ends up dead.
Ron Wesley: Harry's best friend. He's sixteen as well, and very tall, thin and red-haired. He's a little bit jealous of Harry's protagonism but he's always been by his side. He's always fighting with Hermione but deep down they love each other.
Hermione Granger: the cleverest girl in the school, she is so intelligent that sometimes can be annoying. She is Harry's second best friend.
Severus Snape: the teacher of Defense against the dark-arts. He hasn't been very relevant in the other books. He's the teacher Harry hates the most. Everyone suspects him of being an allied of Voldemort but Dumbledore has always stood up for him, but this time he was wrong, Snape was working for Voldemort.
Draco Malfoy: he's Harry's classmate and they hate each other. Draco's now working for Voldemort as a second spy inside the school. His mission is to kill Dumbledore but as he's not brave enough, he can't do it so Snape does it for him.
Lord Voldemort: the baddie. He's a dark wizard that wants to overpower everyone to his will. He killed Harry's parents and he wanted to kill him too but he never could. He doesn't care if he has to kill or torture someone to get what he wants. After Dumbledore, he is the most powerful wizard.
The book is divided into thirty chapters, each one related to each other.
In the fight between good and evil there are always defeats but you have to keep going in order to pursue your goal (in this case the victory of the good). As well, as a conclusion we could say that, to fight your enemy you have to find its weaknesses and attack it like that. As the friendship component is very important in this story, I conclude that with our friend's help, everything can be done.
I loved this book. As a matter of fact, I loved all Harry Potter's books.
I've been waiting a lot for the publication of this book, but the wait was worth it. It fulfilled all my expectations. However, there's something I didn't like, Dumbledore's death. I really liked that character and I don't know what is going to be of Harry now that he doesn't have Dumbledore.