“There is always room for a story that can transport people to another place” (J K Rowling). We were eleven years old when the first Harry Potter book was published. And since then the characters turned into an inherent part of our childhood. The stories of the three friends Harry Potter, Hermine Granger, and Ron Weasley turn around adventure, courage, love, and friendship. The books are beloved by children and adults alike and have been translated into 69 languages and sold over 400 million copies worldwide.
But how did Joanne K. Rowling manage to turn her books into such a gigantic success worldwide? And how did it all start?
In an interview in 2011 Joanne K. Rowling was asked about her favourite virtue. She answered without any hesitation: “Courage”. Being asked about her passion she said “writing” and she considered her strongest characteristic “to be a trier”. A person that would fight and never give up. She shares this characteristic with her principal character Harry Potter and it allowed her to overcome later on the most difficult period of her life.
Just like her principal book character she was born on the 31st of July and didn’t feel welcome in her family. The difficult relationship with her father was accentuated when her mom was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when Joanne turned 15. After the death of her mom and a “catastrophic” marriage with a Portuguese journalist she was alone with a small child.
Realising the mess she had created in her life and living entirely on state benefits Joanne K. Rowling experienced a severe depression believing she could never be happy again. This experience would take the form of the ‘Dementor’ characters in her Harry Potter stories that suck all the happy feelings of people leaving them cold and numb.
But she also said that she wished more than anything in the world to be a writer and to be published. “Everything was stripped away, I had made such a mess of things, but that was freeing. So I thought I want to write, so I write this book. What’s the worst that can happen to me? If it gets turned down by every publisher it is not a big deal.”
And this book turned her life around. Joanne K. Rowling progressed from living on state benefits to being a multi millionaire within 5 years. But she has never forgotten what it feels to be poor. “I become most irritated and angry by people who have really no idea how it feels to exist in poverty”. She built a trust to help medical research for multiple sclerosis and funds several programs benefiting women and children facing social exclusion and social deprivation.
Seeing Joanne K. Rowling’s success made us feel extremely happy for her but we also could feel part of the pressure she must have felt before her final book launch trying to meet the expectations of her fans all over the world. We would like to end with a final quote of hers that motivates Ilaria and me to stand up again after each failure and continue believing in us and our vision: “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”
Sources: Video J. K. Rowling – A Year In The Life, Wikipedia, Harry Potter books