J. K. Rowling

 A Speech by Alex in Grade Eight

I’m sure everyone here has heard of Harry Potter, the fictional character, created by J. K. Rowling. If not, you are in luck. Ms. Rosen, classmates, I will tell you all about her amazing accomplishments.

On July 31, 1965, at Yate General Hospital in England, a little girl was born to Peter and Anne Rowling. This little baby grew up to become the phenomenal author who created the Harry Potter series. Today, she is an influential writer who has captured millions of readers with the magic of her book.

     Ever since her childhood, Joanne has loved writing stories and telling them to her little sister, Di. Her first story was called Rabbit and Miss Bee, and not surprisingly, it was about a rabbit named Rabbit who got the measles. After her young years playing witches and wizards with her sister, Joanne started going to school. At first she did not adjust well to her elementary school, but later she enjoyed secondary school. She was a shy, bookish girl, much like Hermione Granger. She also made a best friend, Sean Harris, who later became the inspiration for Ron Weasley, another character in her books.

     During her early adult years, Rowling’s mother, Anne, developed multiple sclerosis, and her health deteriorated. It was a difficult time for the whole family.

     Nevertheless, Joanne managed to graduate from Wyedean Comprehensive School with honours in French and Classics. She then moved to London and got a job as a secretary, but she was not very good at it. She discovered she was disorganized, and instead of working, she often wrote story ideas during her work hours.

     In 1990, Rowling moved to Manchester, where she first got the idea of a character called Harry Potter. Over the next few months, her box of manuscripts kept growing and growing, filling up with ideas about Harry Potter. That same year, Rowling’s mother, 45 years old, died of MS. Her death inspired Rowling to add “The Mirror of the Erised” to her story, a mirror that shows the image of a heart’s deepest desires. In Rowling’s story that mirror showed Harry’s dead parents.

     In 1993, while living in Portugal and working as an English teacher, Rowling met a Portuguese journalist. They married and had a daughter named Jessica, but the marriage crumbled the following year. Now Rowling was a single mother, barely surviving with the help of welfare cheques. The only thing that kept up her spirits was writing more about Harry. But she couldn’t afford a typewriter and she had to write everything by hand. She applied for a writing grant, and was awarded £8,000 or approximately 14,000 Canadian dollars. Now she had enough money to take care of herself and her daughter. She could keep writing her book.

In 1995, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was finally finished. In 1996, with the help of her agent, Christopher Little, it was published by Bloomsbury in London. Rowling’s first name, Joanne, was not put on the cover. Instead, the publisher used her initial – J – because it was thought that a female author would be unappealing to young boys. Rowing added the initial of her grandmother Kathleen and J. K. Rowling was born. Immediately, sales soared. Her first book, and soon her subsequent books, flooded the markets and in 2000, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire became the fastest-selling book in history. The movie Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was released in November 2001, and was a huge box office success. In the same year, Joanne married Dr. Neil Murray with whom she had two more children, a son David and a daughter Mackenzie.

     Joanne Rowling overcame many hard times: her mother’s death, single motherhood, and poverty. She showed perseverance and determination and finished her first book despite being able to write only when her daughter was asleep. And now, J. K. Rowling is an extremely influential writer era. She shows all of us that we should not give up, even when things get difficult. She teaches us that we, too, should try our hardest to achieve our dreams.

To learn more, read: Pezzi, Bryan. J. K. Rowling. New York: AV2, 2013.

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