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Joanne Rowling, (born 31 July 1965), writing under the pen names J. K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith, is a British novelist, philanthropist, film producer, television producer and screenwriter, best known for writing the Harry Potter fantasy series. The books have won multiple awards, and sold more than 500 million copies,becoming the best-selling book series in history.They have also been the basis for a film series, over which Rowling had overall approval on the scriptsand was a producer on the final films in the series.

Born in Yate, Gloucestershire, England, Rowling was working as a researcher and bilingual secretary for Amnesty International when she conceived the idea for the Harry Potter series while on a delayed train from Manchester to London in 1990. The first novel in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was published in 1997. There were six sequels, of which the last, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was released in 2007. Since then, Rowling has written five books for adult readers: The Casual Vacancy (2012) and—under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith—the crime fiction novels The Cuckoo’s Calling (2013), The Silkworm (2014), Career of Evil (2015), and Lethal White (2018).

Rowling has lived a “rags to riches” life story, in which she progressed from living on state benefits to being the world’s first billionaire author. She lost her billionaire status after giving away much of her earnings to charity, but remains one of the wealthiest people in the world. Time named her a runner-up for its 2007 Person of the Year, noting the social, moral, and political inspiration. In October 2010, Rowling was named the “Most Influential Woman in Britain” by leading magazine editors. She has supported charities, including Comic Relief, One Parent Families and Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain, and launched her own charity, Lumos.

Awards and honours

Rowling has received honorary degrees from St Andrews University, the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University, the University of Exeter (which she attended),the University of Aberdeen,and Harvard University, where she spoke at the 2008 commencement ceremony.In 2009 Rowling was made a Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. In 2011, Rowling became an honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.

Other awards include:

  • 1997: Nestlé Smarties Book Prize, Gold Award for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
  • 1998: Nestlé Smarties Book Prize, Gold Award for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • 1998: British Children’s Book of the Year, winner Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
  • 1999: Nestlé Smarties Book Prize, Gold Award for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • 1999: National Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year, winner Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • 1999: Whitbread Children’s Book of the Year, winner Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • 2000: British Book Awards, Author of the Year
  • 2000: Officer of the Order of the British Empire, for services to Children’s Literature
  • 2000: Locus Award, winner Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • 2001: Hugo Award for Best Novel, winner Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • 2003: Premio Príncipe de Asturias, Concord
  • 2003: Bram Stoker Award for Best Work for Young Readers, winner Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • 2006: British Book of the Year, winner for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
  • 2007: Blue Peter Badge, Gold
  • 2007: Named Barbara Walters’ Most Fascinating Person of the year
  • 2008: British Book Awards, Outstanding Achievement
  • 2008: The Edinburgh Award
  • 2010: Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award, inaugural award winner
  • 2011: British Academy Film Awards, Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema for the Harry Potter film series, shared with David Heyman, cast and crew
  • 2012: Freedom of the City of London
  • 2012: Rowling was among the British cultural icons selected by artist Sir Peter Blake to appear in a new version of his most famous artwork – the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover – to celebrate the British cultural figures of his life.

She was appointed Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) in the 2017 Birthday Honours for services to literature and philanthropy.

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