J.K. Rowling: The Author Behind the Most Popular Book and Film Franchises in History

It is hard to say J.K. Rowling’s name without Harry Potter coming to mind. The British author has been known for this mega-blockbuster movie and book series that has successfully maintained its fame until today.

It looks like the degree of Harry Potter’s fame will never fade, as well as the creative mind behind it. Though Rowling has been known for the immense popularity of this series, she has proven time and again that she is more than just a Harry Potter writer.

From living the life of rags to riches to becoming a known philanthropist, get to learn more about the author behind the most popular book and film franchises in history.

The Early Life of Rowling

Real name Joanne Rowling, she was born on July 31, 1965. She got her pen name from combining the first letter of her name and her grandmother, Kathleen Rowling.

After getting her degree from the University of Exeter, she got the moving company’s help to move to Portugal in 1990 to start her new job as an English teacher.

Here, she tied the knot, had a child, and eventually separated. The separation ignited her to return to Edinburgh and liver near her younger sister, Dianne Rowling.

Rowling didn’t have an affluent life back then that she ended up struggling to support her daughter, Jessica Isabel Rowling Arantes. Despite this, she worked on her first Harry Potter book series.

Thankfully, she got an idea of starting the novel while boarding a train from Manchester to London in 1990. From here, Platform 9 ¾ was born.

The Beginning of Success

Despite the number of rejectio

ns, Rowling was never discouraged. She finally sold the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, for about $4,000, hitting the shelves in June 1997.

Her investment in making this book series a success began, though she never expected it would be massive.

After just a year, Rowling dropped the second book installment, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, followed by the third novel, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, in 1999.

The first three books earned $480 million in just three years, selling over 34 million copies worldwide and printed in 35 languages. The series then became a phenomenon to an international degree as everyone waited for the release of the fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, making it the fastest-selling book in 24 hours.

It first had 5.3 million printed copies, while it had advance orders of more than 1.8 million.

Sadly, it took Rowling three years before she dropped the fifth installment, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, in 2003.

Fans waited for another two years for the release of the sixth novel, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which sold 6.9 million copies in just 24 hours in the US alone, earning the credits for being the biggest opening in publishing history.

The last installment to the book series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, became the largest pre-ordered book at Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores, and Amazon.com.

Rowling claimed she had no plans to continue Harry Potter’s story in a book, though she didn’t rule out the possibility.

True enough, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child came out in 2016, which was touted as the eighth installment to the book series. It was a two-part play written by Jack Thorne, based on the original idea by him, Rowling, and the director John Tiffany.

The play debuted on the London stage, and as expected, it was quickly sold out and received several credits.

Movie Series Adaptation

The Harry Potter book series was then adapted into a movie series, starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint.

With its huge success, it proved to be an excellent investment and became the third highest-grossing film series, earning $7.7 billion worldwide with a budget of only $1.2 billion.

A new film series based on the 2001 Hogwarts textbook Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was then out in 2016. This, too, experienced worldwide success, grossing more than $800 million worldwide.

Other Works


After the success of Harry Potter, Rowling then shifted into writing an adult novel, entitled The Casual Vacancy. By the looks of it, the 2012-published book found it hard to surpass the achievement her first book series attained.

She then penned Cuckoo Calling under the pen name Robert Galbraith. The book sale quickly skyrocketed when fans learned Rowling was behind it.

Other books to her credit and published using her pseudonym, were The Silkworm, Career of Evil, and Lethal White.

She continued exploring Harry Potter’s world with Harry Potter: A History of Magic and Harry Potter: A Journey Through a History of Magic in 2017.

Philanthropic Works and Legacy

When Rowling published the collection of five fables mentioned in the Harry Potter book series, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, in 2008, she donated all its royalties to the Children’s High Level group. It was the charity she co-founded that was later renamed Lumos.

She also established the Volant Charitable Trust, which has an annual budget of £5.1 million to fight poverty and social inequality.