• 1965

  • The Rowling Family

    The Rowling Family

    J.K. Rowling’s parents, Peter James Rowling and Anne Volant, met on a train that was travelling from King's Cross, London to Scotland. They were just 18.

    Her father had recently joined the Navy, her mother was a WREN; both were to be stationed at Arbroath. They married one year later, when her father left the Navy to join…

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  • 1967

  • Dianne Rowling

    “My sister Dianne, or ‘Di’, arrived a year and eleven months after me. The day of her birth is one of my earliest memories, or my earliest datable memory, anyway.
    I distinctly remember being in the kitchen, playing with a bit of plasticine, while my father rushed in and out of the room, hurrying backwards and forwards to my…

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  • 1972

  • Rabbit

    J.K. Rowling knew that she wanted to be a writer from an early age. She wrote her first book at just six years old, which she describes as being,

    “…a work of towering genius about a rabbit, called Rabbit. I gave it to my mother who said, ‘That’s lovely,’ as a mother would. ‘That’s very, very good.’ I stood there, thinking,…

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  • 1974

  • Early Influences

    As a child, J.K. Rowling was a voracious reader. ‘The Little White Horse’, by Elizabeth Goudge, and ‘Manxmouse’, by Paul Gallico – a tale about a strange creature with a mouse's body, rabbit's ears and monkey's paws – were some of her favourite childhood tales. Another well-read novel was ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’…

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  • Wyedean Comprehensive

    When J.K. Rowling was nine years old, the family moved to Tutshill, near Chepstow on the Welsh border. The girls went to Wyedean Comprehensive School and College where they both loved their schooldays. Much like Hermione Granger, J.K. Rowling had a thirst for knowledge. She says,

    "I hope I was neither as clever or as annoying…

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  • 1983

  • Exeter University

    “I left Wyedean in 1983 and went to the University of Exeter, on the south coast of England. My parents wanted me to take a vocational course, or study 'useful' modern languages.

    They thought that English Literature (my preference) was a ‘where-will-it-lead?' option, so, I studied French – which was a mistake. I really should…

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  • 1986

  • Amnesty International

    Having graduated from University with a BA in French and the Classics in 1986, J.K. Rowling worked in London as a researcher for Amnesty International – an organisation that campaigns against human rights abuse.

    “Every day, I saw more evidence about the evils humankind will inflict on their fellow humans, to gain or maintain…

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  • 1990

  • It All Started on Platform 9 3/4

    “It was 1990. My then boyfriend and I had decided to move up to Manchester together. After a weekend's flat-hunting, I was travelling back to London on my own on a crowded train, and the idea for Harry Potter simply fell into my head.

    I had been writing almost continuously since the age of six but I had never been so excited…

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  • Anne Rowling

    In December 1990, and after a decade-long battle with the debilitating condition, J.K. Rowling’s mother – Anne – succumbed to multiple sclerosis at the age of just 45.

    Anne’s death left a shadow of sadness that would greatly influence Jo's stories about a young wizard who loses his parents at an early age. One of Jo’s greatest…

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  • 1991

  • Living in Portugal

    Still devastated by her mother’s death, J.K. Rowling moved to Portugal in 1991, to work as an English teacher at a language institute. In her own words, this period was the start of a dark time in her life.

    “I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded … and the fears of my parents, and…

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  • 1993

  • Rebounding from Failure

    J.K. Rowling describes the period after her time in Portugal as being ‘rock bottom’. She goes on however, to say that rock bottom became a solid foundation on which she rebuilt her life.

    “Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than I was and began diverting…

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  • Jessica Rowling

    Jessica is J.K. Rowling’s eldest daughter. She was born in Portugal on 27 July 1993.

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  • 1996

  • Looking for an agent

    “I wrote nearly every evening, then typed the whole thing out myself on an old manual typewriter, covered the first three chapters in a nice plastic folder and sent them off to an agent. They were returned so fast, they must have been sent back the same day they arrived.
    But at the second attempt, Christopher Little wrote back…

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  • Scottish Arts Council

    After accepting J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone manuscript, Barry Cunningham advised her to ‘get a day job, because there’s very little chance of making money in children’s books’.

    She made an application to the Scottish Arts Council. With a generous grant of £8,000, she was able to not only look after…

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  • Bloomsbury Publishing

    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was sent to a number of publishers initially, all of whom rejected the manuscript. It took a year before her agent, Christopher Little, could make the call that J.K. Rowling had been waiting for.

    “Finally, in August 1996, Christopher phoned to tell me that Bloomsbury had made an offer. I…

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    Bloomsbury Publishing
  • 1997

  • Pen Name

    Although she was christened Joanne Rowling, and is known as ‘Jo’ to her family and friends, millions of Harry Potter fans know the best-selling children’s author as ‘J.K. Rowling’.

    The use of a pen name was suggested by her publisher, Barry Cunningham. He thought that young boys might be wary of a book written by a woman, so…

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  • Scholastic and The Sorcerer's Stone

    At the Bologna Book Fair, in April 1997, Christopher Little organised an auction for the American publishing rights to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

    Arthur A. Levine, editorial director of Scholastic Books, made a successful offer for the book, and it was published in the USA under the title Harry Potter and the…

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  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

    J.K. Rowling’s first book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was released on 26 June 1997.

    Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy.  He lives with Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley, who make him sleep in a cupboard under the stairs.  Then Harry starts receiving mysterious letters and his life is changed for…

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    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  • 1998

  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

    The second title in the series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, was published on 2 July 1998. It went to Number One in the adult hardback bestseller charts for a month after publication.

    Harry Potter is a wizard.  He is in his second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The three friends, Harry, Ron and…

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    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • 1999

  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was published on 8 July 1999 to worldwide acclaim. The title spent four weeks at Number One in the UK adult hardback bestseller charts.

    Harry Potter, along with his best friends, Ron and Hermione, is about to start his third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  Harry…

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    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • 2000

  • Gingerbread

    J.K. Rowling has supported the work of Gingerbread (originally known as ‘One Parent Families’), since the year 2000.

    Starting as an ambassador for their work – they provide advice, practical support and campaign to highlight the needs of lone parents and their children – in 2007 she took an honorary position as President of the…

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  • Volant Trust

    All J.K. Rowling’s charitable giving is now done through her charitable trust, Volant, which supports projects that alleviate social deprivation, with an emphasis on women’s and children’s issues. Volant was set up in the year 2000.

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  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fourth book in the series, was published on 8 July 2000 with a record first print run of one million copies in the UK. It quickly broke all records for the greatest number of books sold on the first day of publication in the UK.

    The summer holidays seem never-ending and Harry Potter…

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    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • 2001

  • Comic Relief

    J.K. Rowling has written two smaller books. Fans recognise them as they appear in the Harry Potter series, being the titles of Harry’s school books: ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’, and ‘Quidditch Through The Ages’.

    Both titles were originally published in March 2001, in aid of Comic Relief – sales raised over £17…

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  • J.K. Rowling OBE

    In 2001, J.K. Rowling received the Order of the British Empire (OBE) from His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, for services to children’s literature.

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  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

    Opening on 16 November 2001, in London, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was a huge box-office success.

    Harry Potter learns on his 11th birthday that he is the orphaned son of two wizards and possesses magical powers of his own. At Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he learns the high-flying sport Quidditch and…

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    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
  • Dr. Neil Murray

    J.K. Rowling married Dr. Neil Murray on 26th December 2001, in a private ceremony at their country home in Scotland.

    When they met, Dr. Murray was working as a senior house officer at an Edinburgh hospital, but now works as a GP.

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  • 2002

  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets opened  in the UK and US on 15 November 2002. The film’s success was assured thanks to the growing number of fans becoming aware of the stories.

    Cars fly, trees fight back and a mysterious house-elf comes to warn Harry Potter at the start of his second year at Hogwarts. Adventure and…

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    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • 2003

  • MS Society Scotland

    J.K. Rowling became patron of the MS Society, Scotland, in 2003.

    Her support for the charity included planning and hosting fundraising events, lobbying, and raising awareness of the disease, as well as contributing significant funds for research in Scotland.

    She stepped down as Patron of the charity in 2009 but continues to…

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    MS Society Scotland
  • David Murray

    J.K. Rowling's son, David, was born on 23 March 2003.

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  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

    On 21 June 2003, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was published in Britain, the USA, Canada and Australia. This fifth instalment in the series broke all records that had been set by Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, as it became the fastest selling book in history.

    Harry Potter is due to start his fifth year at…

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    Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Prince of Asturias Award

    The Prince of Asturias Award for Concord is an annual prize, awarded by the Prince of Asturias (heir to the throne of Spain) to individuals, entities or organisations that make notable achievements in the sciences, humanities, and public affairs.

    J.K. Rowling accepted this prestigious award at a ceremony in Oviedo, Spain, on 10…

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  • 2004

  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Film

    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban opened in the UK on 31 May 2004.

    In their third year at Hogwarts, Harry, Ron and Hermione meet escaped prisoner Sirius Black and learn to handle a Hippogriff – half-horse, half-eagle; repel shape-shifting Boggarts and master the art of Divination. Harry must also withstand soul-sucking…

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    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Film
  • 2005

  • Mackenzie Murray

    The youngest of J.K. Rowling's three children, her daughter, Mackenzie, was born on 23 January 2005.

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  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

    Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was published in the UK, US and other English-speaking countries on 16 July 2005. This, the sixth book in the series, also achieved record sales.

    It is Harry Potter’s sixth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  As Voldemort’s sinister forces amass and a spirit of gloom and…

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    Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

    This is the fourth film in the Harry Potter series. It was released on 18 November 2005, in the UK.

    Harry Potter is mysteriously entered into the Triwizard Tournament, a gruelling contest among three wizarding schools in which he confronts a dragon, water demons and an enchanted maze only to find himself in Lord Voldemort’s…

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    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • 2006

  • A year in the life…

    This British documentary film follows a year in J.K. Rowling’s life, from October 2006 to October 2007, in which she worked on and completed her final Harry Potter novel, ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’.

    She talks honestly about her life and her writing; explains her thought processes; the details included in her work;…

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  • 2007

  • Blue Peter Gold Badge

    A Blue Peter badge is a special award given to viewers, fans and individuals who have been recognised by the award-winning BBC children’s television programme of the same name.

    J.K. Rowling was honoured with a Blue Peter Gold Badge in 2007. Usually given only for outstanding achievement, other winners of this award include…

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  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

    Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix opened on 12 July 2007.

    The rebellion begins! Lord Voldemort is back, but the Ministry of Magic tries to keep a lid on the truth – including appointing a new, power-hungry Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts. Ron and Hermione convince Harry to secretly train students for…

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    Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

    Although Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is a single novel, this seventh instalment in Harry’s adventures was subsequently the basis for two films. As the final book in the series, it was published in the UK, US and other English speaking countries on 21 July 2007.

    Harry Potter is preparing to leave the Dursleys and Privet…

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    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  • The Tales of Beedle the Bard

    After completing the final book in the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling wanted to present a special gift to the people who had been most closely associated with Harry. She produced seven individual copies of a volume of wizarding fairy-tales called The Tales of Beedle the Bard.

    In December 2007, a copy of The Tales of Beedle…

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    The Tales of Beedle the Bard
  • 2008

  • Lifetime Achievement Award

    The British Book Awards (now known as The Galaxy National Book Awards) is a series of awards bestowed by an academy of members from the British book publishing industry.

    Winning the title ‘Book of the Year’ in 2006 for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.

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  • Harvard Commencement Address

    Harvard Commencement Address

    In June 2008, J.K. Rowling delivered the Commencement Address at the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association. Her speech was titled, ‘The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination.’

    She spoke of lessons learned from her own discoveries – of personal failure ‘on an epic scale,’ – and quoted Plutarch,…

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  • Other Books

    Other Books

    On the 4 December 2008, The Tales of Beedle the Bard was published in aid of the Children’s High Level Group (now Lumos). Originally produced as just seven unique copies, six distributed privately by J.K. Rowling to people who, she felt, had had a strong relationship with Harry Potter over the last 17 years; one was sold at…

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  • 2009

  • Chevalier de la Legion D’Honneur

    Chevalier de la Legion D’Honneur

    J.K. Rowling was named Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur at a ceremony conducted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in France, 2009.

    Under normal circumstances, membership of the Legion d’Honneur is restricted to French nationals. However, foreign nationals who have served France or the ideals it upholds, may receive a…

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  • Harry Potter: The Exhibition

    In April 2009, Harry Potter: The Exhibition opened in Chicago, Illinois, featuring artifacts and props from all eight Harry Potter films.  After record-breaking stops in six cities worldwide, this state-of-the-art, interactive museum attraction will open at the ArtScience Museum in Singapore in June 2012. Click here for more…

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  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

    Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince opened on 15 July 2009.

    As Lord Voldemort tightens his grip on both the Muggle and wizarding worlds, Dumbledore is more intent upon preparing Harry for the battle fast approaching. Even as the showdown looms however, romance blossoms for Harry, Ron, Hermione and their classmates. Love is…

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    Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • 2010

  • Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award

    J.K. Rowling was the first recipient of a new award, the Hans Christian Andersen Award, in 2010. This prize is distinct from the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, as it recognises works that are expected to have the same enduring appeal as the Danish master’s characters.

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  • Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic

    In 2010, J.K. Rowling donated £10 million towards the foundation of a new clinic at the University of Edinburgh.

    The Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic will support patients with multiple sclerosis and other neurodegenerative diseases, as well as conducting major research into neuroregeneration. The facility is named…

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    Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic
  • Lumos

    In 2005 J.K. Rowling co-founded the Children’s High Level Group (CHLG) with Baroness Emma Nicholson MEP, inspired by a press report she read about children in caged beds in institutions in the Czech Republic. In 2010 the charity became Lumos, and changed its remit slightly. Lumos works to end the systematic institutionalisation…

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  • Oprah Winfrey

    Oprah Winfrey interviewed J.K. Rowling in 2010. In this interview, the two women spoke candidly about not only her success, but also many of the emotional challenges J.K. Rowling has overcome during her life.

    They talked about depression; poverty; the trials of single parenting, and the importance of love as a theme that has…

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  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

    On 18 June 2010, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened in Universal Orlando Resort, Florida. This re-creation of Hogsmeade allows guests to visit detailed replicas of the shops and establishments from the films, whilst the magnificent full-sized Hogwarts castle houses the groundbreaking attraction Harry Potter and the…

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  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part I opened in the UK and US on 19 November 2010.

    Harry, Ron and Hermione set out to track down and destroy the secret to Voldemort’s power – the Horcruxes. On their own and on the run, the three must rely on one another more than ever … but Dark Forces threaten to tear them apart.

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    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1
  • 2011

  • J.K. Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe

    In a heart-warming interview, J.K. Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe talk about Harry Potter, their introduction to each other, and some of the challenges and delights they’ve both experienced, bringing the books to life on film.

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    J.K. Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe
  • BAFTA

    The Harry Potter film series received the award for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema at the Orange British Academy Film Awards in 2011. Along with seven Oscar nominations, the series had already been recognised with 28 BAFTA nominations at that point.

    J.K. Rowling and film producer David Heyman received the award on…

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  • J.K. Rowling launch of Pottermore

    In the run up to the launch of J.K. Rowling’s exciting web site, Pottermore, J.K. Rowling describes how hard it was to let go of her characters, and the Harry Potter experience.

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    J.K. Rowling launch of Pottermore
  • J.K. Rowling Deathly Hallows premiere

    At the premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, in London, J.K. Rowling gives a very emotional speech; thanking not only the cast, the directing team and people who made the films possible – but also, most importantly, her readers.

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    J.K. Rowling Deathly Hallows premiere
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 opened in the UK and US on 15 July 2011. It had the biggest opening weekend of all time, both domestically and internationally, and is currently the third highest ranking film worldwide.

    In this epic finale, the battle between the good and evil forces of the wizarding world…

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    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
  • Who Do You Think You Are?

    Who Do You Think You Are? is a BAFTA award-winning BBC documentary series, in which well-known individuals are invited to explore their genealogy and retrace their family history.

    When J.K. Rowling took part, she was able to trace detailed information about her French great-grandfather, who had been decorated for his bravery in…

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  • The Leveson Inquiry

    On 24 November 2011, J.K. Rowling gave evidence at the Leveson Inquiry into Press Standards. Amongst other things she explained the sense of invasion she had felt on finding a note, written by a journalist, tucked into her daughter's schoolbag.

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  • 2012

  • Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter

    Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter opened on 31 March 2012. For the first time, fans can go behind-the-scenes of the films to see many things the camera never revealed, from the detailed sets to the costumes, props and animatronics. Click here for more information: http://www.wbstudiotour.co.uk/

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  • Pottermore

    Pottermore

    Pottermore, J.K. Rowling’s exciting new website with Sony, is a website where fans can discover more about the world of Harry Potter and access exclusive new content about the characters, places and objects in these much-loved stories.

    Exclusively from the Pottermore Shop, fans can buy Harry Potter eBooks and digital audio…

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  • The Casual Vacancy

    Little, Brown announces details of J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.

    When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock.

    Seemingly an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

    Rich at war…

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  • Freedom of the City of London

    Freedom of the City of London

    On 8 May 2012, J.K. Rowling was granted the Freedom of the City of London. The Freedom of the City of London is one of the oldest surviving traditional ceremonies still in existence today. It’s believed that the first Freedom was presented in 1237.

    The medieval term 'freeman' referred to someone who was not beholden to a feudal…

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  • Wonderbook: Book of Spells

    Wonderbook: Book of Spells

    In June 2012 an exciting new project, in collaboration with PlayStation®3, was announced.

    Wonderbook: Book of Spells is an enchanted book that brings spells to life around you, and includes new writing from J.K. Rowling, such as spell descriptions and stories from the wizarding world. Book of Spells is the first product to…

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  • The Casual Vacancy Cover Image Announced

    The cover image for The Casual Vacancy is released today by Little, Brown.  

    More information: www.littlebrown.co.uk, US website www.littlebrown.com

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    The Casual Vacancy Cover Image Announced
  • London 2012 Olympics

    On 27th July 2012, J.K. Rowling participated in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. In a segment of the ceremony celebrating British children’s literature and the NHS, Jo read an extract from J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. Minutes later large puppet representations of children’s literature villains, including Lord…

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    London 2012 Olympics
  • The Casual Vacancy Published

    J.K. Rowling’s new novel for adults, The Casual Vacancy is published in English.  She comments;

    The Casual Vacancy is set in a small community, which involves writing characters who are adolescents all the way up to people in their sixties. I love nineteenth century novels that centre on a town or village. This is my…

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  • Southbank Centre

    Southbank Centre

    On Thursday 27th September, the day of publication of The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling appeared at the Southbank Centre in conversation with BBC journalist Mark Lawson.

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  • Live Webcast

    On the 11th October 2012, J.K. Rowling took part in a live global webcast, discussing the Harry Potter books and Pottermore.com, from her home town of Edinburgh, Scotland. Produced and directed by her American publisher, Scholastic, the webcast was broadcast to schools in America, England and Canada.                           

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  • 2013

  • The Beacon Awards for Philanthropy 2013

    On 6 February 2013 J.K. Rowling was awarded The Beacon Award for Targeted Philanthropy.

    The Beacon Awards celebrate giving by individuals whose philanthropy has achieved an impact that needs to be more widely shared.   Their aim is to provide inspiration to improve and strengthen the culture of individual giving in the UK,…

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    The Beacon Awards for Philanthropy 2013
  • Bath Literature Festival

    Bath Literature Festival

    On Friday 8th March 2013, J.K. Rowling appeared at the Bath Literature Festival, talking to Festival Director James Runcie about The Casual Vacancy.

    To watch a video from the event, please visit The Independent's website.

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  • Sotheby's Auction

    Sotheby's Auction

    On Tuesday 21st May 2013 an annotated first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, containing J.K. Rowling's personal annotations and illustrations, raised £150,000 for English PEN and for J.K. Rowling's own charity, Lumos, when it was sold to an anonymous bidder at a Sotheby’s auction.

    Other annotated first…

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  • Opening of the Anne Rowling Neurology Clinic

    Opening of the Anne Rowling Neurology Clinic

    On Tuesday 8th October 2013 J.K. Rowling attended the official opening of the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic, at the University of Edinburgh.  The Clinic was formally opened by the University’s Chancellor, HRH The Princess Royal.  Patients with multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases are already…

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  • Lumos Maxima Charm Bracelet

    On Tuesday 10th December, the Lumos Maxima charm bracelet sold at Sotheby’s London for £20,000 in aid of J.K. Rowling’s children’s charity Lumos (www.wearelumos.org). Based on designs by J.K. Rowling, inspired by her Harry Potter books and handcrafted by Edinburgh jeweler Hamilton & Inches, the charms were cast in sterling…

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    Lumos Maxima Charm Bracelet

 

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