10 things that you might not know about J.K. Rowling

As the writer of Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling is indissociable with the character with whom she shared her birthday. With the unexpected but also well-merited success of the Harry Potter and the Fantastic Beasts sagas, a part of her career stays in the dark.

To learn more about the person who has now become a staple of the cinema and literature industry, let’s talk about 10 anecdotes about her majestic path.

1. First story written at the age of 6

J.K. Rowling wanted to become a writer since a very young age. At the age of 6, she let her imagination talk to her and wrote her very first story. Back then J.K. and her sister Diane were begging their parents for a rabbit. Naturally, titled Rabbit, her first story was about a rabbit who has measles and supported by her friends, such as a giant bee called Miss Bee.

2. Student at the Sorbonne

Later in her life, after having studied French and classical literature in Exeter, J.K. had to perfect her French and chose to study at the Sorbonne. Following the path of some of the greatest writers like Balzac, Simone de Beauvoir and Sartre, she gained a diploma in French literature and philology.

3. English teacher in Porto

After her mother’s death from multiple sclerosis in 1990, J.K. left for Portugal and married a TV journalist. They had a daughter together 3 years later. To earn a living, she became an English teacher in Porto thanks to a job ad she found on Guardian.

This job allowed her to start working on her books. Numbers of tourists and fans pointed out the similarities between cultural and intellectual sites in the city and in the fiction, such as Lello the bookstore and Flourish and Blotts, the magical store.

4. Big Smiths fan

During her teenage years, J.K. listened to “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” in loop. Huge fan of the band, she confessed during a conversation with Lauren Laverne that she wanted to go back and tell her 16-year-old self that she was going to meet Morrissey, the singer of the Smiths, and he would know who she was.

Oh the big moment? It is something that she would never forget: “I met him in such a bizarre situation, in Harvey Nichols. We were looking at each other, getting nearer and nearer, and at almost exactly the same moment we both put out our hands. [...]” She added that she was walking around afterwards with her hand out like that [mimed a stiff handshake] saying “Morrissey touched me!

5. Worked in a church

J.K. was the only one in the family going to church. At the age of 11, she even got baptised. With her sister, they regularly seeked refuge at Saint Luke in Tutshill who paid them 1 pound each for helping with cleaning.

Because of this, the sisters signed often the registry of the church (on which we can still see their signatures). J.K. even confessed having used several names for characters in her books, such as "an unpleasant character”.

6. A screen name

Apart from the Harry Potter saga, J.K. worked during a longtime on the adventure of another character - Cormoran Strike. J.K. Rowling held her readers in suspense with a series of investigations his private detective carried out in London with his associate Robin Ellacott.

The very first volume titled The Cuckoo's Calling was published in 2013, followed by 3 more of the same series. They were all published under the name of Robert Galbraith. Lethal White, the last one of the series was released earlier this year in April.

7. French blood

If you trace back in the family tree of J.K. Rowling, you would notice that she has a French root from her mother’s side - her great-grandfather Louis Volant was French. Born in Paris, her ancestor became sommelier in a palace in London and fell in love with an English governess with whom he had a kid: Stanley Volant, J.K.’s grandfather. Louis Volant later returned to France without bringing his spouse who stayed in London.

When J.K. receive the Légion d’honneur in 2009 at the Elysée for “having encouraged a whole generation to read and write,'' she reminded her audience of her French origin in her speech.

8. Complicated relation with her father

As childhood memories are often the principal inspiration source of J.K., the absence of her father has indeed affected her writing. After the death of her mother, her relationship with her father started breaking until a point which they entirely cut their ties.

As she explained in Arte’s documentary:

I was very frightened of my father for a very long time. But I also tried desperately to get his approval and to make him happy, I suppose. And then there came a point where I couldn’t do that anymore.I haven’t had any contact with my father now for a few years.

In Harry Potter, we often find idealized paternal figures such as Sirius Black, Hagrid and Dumbledore.

9. Donation of millions of pounds

Rumor says that the famous writer used to receive up to 1500 letters every week calling for her generosity. It is because of this amount of letter received that she and her team set up a charitable trust through the Lumos association who fights for child protection.

Before her rapid success, she was living a deprived life under social welfare allocations. Since then, she makes sure she is happy with what she has:

I become very angry when it comes to issues concerning social deprivation and social exclusion. And I become most irritated and angry by people who have really no idea how it feels to exist in poverty.

And how disadvantage casts a sometimes irreparable blight over people’s lives. And I’m aggravated to real fury by the fact that there is a section of our society that can’t join the dots and doesn’t see how issues that affect even them … their safe lives … such as crime and drugs… things that touch the middle classes, have their roots often in terrible injustice.

10. The Harry Potter manuscript was refused more than 10 times

Behind every success story, there are struggles. In her case, we know that J.K. lost her mother at the age of 25, has been a victim of domestic violence, suffered from depression, and then from poverty, she often appears like a warrior.

It would not be surprising for us to learn that her first Harry Potter book was refused by different editors before finally being accepted by Bloomsbury Publishing. Her credo? “Anything's possible if you've got enough nerve,'' said Ginny.

Source: Konbini France

Audray Bensoussan

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