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Writing Made Them Rich #1: JK Rowling

Joanne Kathleen Rowling was born in Chipping Sodbury,England in 1965. She began writing at the age of 6 with astory called 'Rabbit', which she never finished.

In high school her favorite subject was English. From HighSchool, Rowling went to Exeter University where she earneda degree in French.

After graduating, she spent a year studying in Paris andthen went back to London where she worked in a number ofjobs, including a year with Amnesty International and ashort time as secretary for a publishing company, where shewas responsible for sending out rejection slips.

In the summer of 1990, on a delayed train from Manchesterto London, she came up with the idea of a boy who discovershe is a wizard. But it would be 7 years before the ideabecame a book.

In that same year her mother died of Multiple Sclerosis andshe left for Portugal to teach English, hoping to find away to deal with her grief.

In October 1992 she married a Portuguese televisionjournalist, Jorge Arantes. But the marriage lasted justeleven months.

In 1993 she left her husband and returned to England, withthe one legacy of her failed marriage - an infant daughternamed Jessica.

Her life suddenly took a nose-dive. Fighting poverty anddepression, she lived in a mice-infested flat in Edinburghand struggled to raise her baby daughter on a welfare checkof 70 pounds ($100) a week.

Unable to heat her flat, she sat in cafés nursing anespresso for 2 hours at a time and worked feverishly on themanuscript of 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone'while her baby daughter slept in a pram.

The manuscript is said to have been rejected by threeBritish publishers - Penguin, Transworld and HarperCollins.

But Bloomsbury Children's Books did sign her up, reportedlypaying £10,000 ($14,300) for the rights to 'Harry Potterand The Philosopher's Stone'.

The Philosopher's Stone was published on 30 June, 1997 andwas an instant success.

The book was published under her initials because herpublisher feared that boys would be less likely to read thebook if they knew it was written by a woman.

At a book fair in Italy later that year, Scholastic Booksbought the American rights for $105,000, an unheard offigure for a children's writer with only one book to hername.

It was published in the States in 1998 with the title'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone'.

The sequel - 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets' -was published in June of 1999 and later that same year, thethird book in the series was released, 'Harry Potter andthe Prisoner of Azkaban'.

By the time her fourth book appeared in 2000 - 'HarryPotter and The Goblet of Fire' - the series had become aninternational phenomenon: the initial print run for her 4thbook was 1.5 million copies in the UK and 3.8 million inthe US.

By 2000, JK Rowland had become the highest-earning woman inBritain, with an income of more than £20.5 million ($29.3m)in the previous year.

In 2001 her annual earnings were estimated at over £24m,($34.3m) placing her between Madonna and Paul McCartney inthe ranks of high-earning celebrities.

In October 1998 Warner Brothers bought the rights to 'HarryPotter and the Sorcerer's Stone' and its sequel ('HarryPotter and the Chamber Of Secrets'), for the tidy sum of$700,000.

With the release of the first Harry Potter film, J.K.Rowling's total earnings are estimated to have exceeded$100 million.

In March 2001 she was awarded an OBE (Order of the BritishEmpire) by the Queen, for services to children'sliterature.

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