1) The boy wizard Harry Potter and author JK Rowling share the same birthday: 31st July.
2) Rowling went from being unemployed and living on state benefits to becoming a multi-millionaire in five years. However, as a teenager she lived in a Grade II listed cottage in Gloucestershire, which she states was “not a particularly happy time in my life”, due to her mother being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and a strained relationship with her father.
3) After the position of Head Girl at Wyedean School and College, she graduated from the University of Exeter with a BA in French and Classics, and then worked as a researcher for Amnesty International.
4) Rowling was diagnosed with clinical depression which she claims gave her inspiration to create the Dementors in the Potter series. She also suffers from insomnia which she puts down to working too late and reading things on which she has a strong opinion.
5) On a delayed train from Manchester to London in 1990, Rowling wrote her initial Potter ideas on a napkin. She typed her first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on a typewriter, often choosing to write in Edinburgh cafés, accompanied by baby daughter Jessica, now 19, named after Jessica Mitford, a heroine of Rowling’s youth.
6) Rowling worked as an English teacher in Portugal during her brief marriage to television journalist Jorge Arantes, with whom she had Jessica. Despite her current fortune, she has no desire to stop working as she believes it sets a good example to her children – she now has another son and daughter with second husband, anaesthetist Neil Murray.
7) According to a recent interview, JK Rowling admits to buying her wedding dress for her second marriage to Neil Murray in disguise, to avoid being recognised – such was the price of fame.
8) Rowling’s ambiguous pen name using the initials ‘JK’ was a publishing suggestion to make her identity anonymous, for fear that a wizarding story penned by a woman might be unpopular. ‘K’ is the initial of her grandmother’s name ‘Kathleen’, since Rowling had no middle names of her own. As a result, a girl called Francesca Gray wrote Rowling her first fan letter addressing her as: ‘Dear Sir…’
9) Twelve publishing houses rejected her original Harry Potter manuscripts, but eventually small publisher Bloomsbury gave her a chance with a small advance. Little did anyone know it would become the bestselling book series in history. Her seventh and final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows broke sales records as the fastest-selling book ever.
10) Rowling was awarded the Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2000 and as an eminent philanthropist has contributed money and support to notable charities such as Comic Relief, One Parent Families, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain and Lumos, amongst others.