Joanne (Jo) Rowling was born on July 31st, 1965, in Yate, Gloucestershire, England. Growing up with a love of books and studying literature at Exeter University, Rowling wrote pages and pages of notes about her own book ideas. Yet the series of jobs she worked and having her first child took up much of her time, and Rowling did not immediately get published.
When she sent her first manuscript out, wariness followed. Rowling has no middle name, and her world-famous pen name “J.K. Rowling” was actually conceived at the request of publishers, who were unsure if young boys would read books written by a woman. Rowling chose the “K” for “Kathleen,” the name of her grandmother. Armed with a new moniker and seven years’ worth of developing the idea, Rowling debuted her first novel in 1997. That novel was Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
The rest is history.
Since then, the Harry Potter series has become an international success, both in books and film. Rowling herself has been featured in countless magazines and media, and the list of her awards is nearly too long to print:
PEN America Literary Service Award, 2016
Freedom of the City of London, 2012
Hans Christian Andersen Award, Denmark, 2010
Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur: France, 2009
Lifetime Achievement Award, British Book Awards, 2008
South Bank Show Award for Outstanding Achievement, 2008
James Joyce Award, University College Dublin, 2008
The Edinburgh Award, 2008
Commencement Day Speaker, Harvard University, USA, 2008
Blue Peter Gold Badge, 2007
WH Smith Fiction Award, 2004
Prince of Asturias Award for Concord, Spain, 2003
Order of the British Empire (OBE), 2001
Children’s Book of the Year, British Book Awards, 1998 and 1999
Booksellers Association Author of the Year, 1998 and 1999
Rowling has written other books as well, including crime novels under the pen name Robert Galbraith, and several books for adults such as The Casual Vacancy. The library has the entirety of the original Harry Potter books and films, plus the recently released movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It’s easy to celebrate Rowling’s birthday today: just visit the Family Room, the Recreational Reading shelf, or the DVD collection. Her literary influence spreads across different media and cultures, and will continue to do so for, most likely, generations.