New Century Club takes look at Harry Potter author

harry potter book art
November 29th, 2019   Lynn West   Organizations, Misc.

The Nov. 6 meeting of the New Century Club was held in the home Of Michelle Hagins.  Members in attendance included, Jean Dillard, Linda Everett, Susan Feather, Leanne George, Michelle Hagins, Carolyn Houston, Martha Frances Monroe, Laura Pannell, Grace Provence, Anna Quinn, Jill Smith and Lou Ann Staggs.

Club members enjoyed a dessert plate as they visited with each other.  President Susan Feather called the meeting to order.  Attendance was noted along with items of new and old business.

Vice President and Program Chairman, Martha Frances Monroe introduced Jill Smith as reviewer of today’s book, “J.K. Rowling: From Welfare to Billionaire”by Michael Bowen.

Jill Smith began her interesting and colorful review by asking “what do we all automatically know about J. K. Rowling?” Her name is Joanne Rowling.  She was once a welfare mother and five or six years later she was a published writer, a screenwriter, a millionaire and soon to become a billionaire.

Because of her love of juvenile literature, Jill admitted that she has read all of Rowling’s books, having purchased several of the 450 million copies that have been sold in the world.  She reported that interest in Rowling’s books extends to her children and grandchildren.  There is such a demand in her family for access to the books that she just bought all of the family some of them!

Rowling’s books have been translated into 73 languages. They have earned 30 billiondollars in sponsorships and adaptations.

Rowling’s net worth in 2016 was 15 billion dollars. She is no longer a billionaire because she has become a great philanthropist!  What a feat for someone who was once jobless, living on the government, depressed and suicidal.  Rowling mused, “I had an old typewriter and big idea so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” “Poor as possible to be in modern times without being homeless, I was the biggest failure I knew.”

Jill discussed that without a doubt, there is something devilish in the “Harry Potter” books. They are some of the most banned books in school libraries in recent years.  She experienced the books as phenomenal.  She read the C. S. Lewis books, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” with the same eagerness as the Potter books.  Her take on the issue of magic in the writing is how you receive it…as a child would or as an adult.

K. Rowling was born July 31, 1965 in Glouchestershire, England to Peter James and Ann Rowling. Rowling’s parents met on a train from King’s Cross Station in 1964.It is interesting how trains figured into Rowling’s life and writings.  She actually got the idea for Harry Potter on a delayed train.  Jill observed the delayed train as a most profitable moment for Rowling and remarked that we should all be so productive when we have to wait! Instead, catching up on Facebook often fills those moments!

It was in the early part of Rowling’s life that she began to write.  She would write funny little stories and read them to her sister Dianne.  One such story was “Rabbit” written when Rowling was six.

Rowling’s goal in her youth was indeed to be a writer. Persistence and hard work enabled her to achieve that goal.  She was a vociferous reader and writer while in college at the University of Exeter. She was particularly fond of Charles Dickens and J. R. R. Tolkien.  That comes as no surprise because it is easy to see their influence in her work.

It was in 1990 that Rowling was on a delayed train when the idea of Harry Potter “just appeared in my mind’s eye.  I saw the idea of Harry and the wizarding school very plainly.”  She continued, “I have never been so excited by an idea.”

Rowling began mapping out the idea for a seven-novel series while also working on a novel for adults.  A few months later began a dark phase in her life.  Her mother died after a ten-year battle with Multiple Sclerosis. Her mother was 45.  This was devastating for Rowling.  Jill drew the correlation of how devastated Harry Potter was by the loss of his parents to the grief that Rowling experienced at the loss of her mother.

Rowling experienced many ups and downs in the years following, including a tumultuous marriage to a physically abusive husband. The two had a daughter, Jessica, named after one of Rowling’s favorite authors Jessica Mitford – a socialist.  She ended up leaving her abusive husband and living with her sister in Scotland. This is where she ended up in the welfare system.

Rowling struggled through depression but continued to write.  She finally finished her first Harry Potter book in 1995.  She immediately began sending copies to agents and publishing houses, receiving a total of 12 rejection slips.  Finally, a small publishing house offered her $4000 for the right to publish Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.  It was published in 1997.  The publishers thought since the book’s main character was a young boy, males would be more likely to read it if she used her initials instead of her name.  Having no middle name, she took her grandmother’s name Kathleen and became J. K. Rowling, launching her historic career. The initial printing was 500 copies.

Jill reports that her own niece was traveling in London with her job and was able to pick up a copy of this first book for herself and her two young daughters.  It quickly became evident that interest in the book extended to Jill and her family as well.

Scholastic Publishing House bought the rights to the books in the United States.  Rowling “churned out the first seven books” every one-two years.  Then the movies were made and the money began rolling in. She became a billionaire.

Rowling remained a billionaire until 2016 when she founded a clinic, named after her mother, to help those suffering with Multiple Sclerosis.  She funded research to find a cure. To date she has given 160 million dollars, dropping from a billionaire to a mere millionaire.

Her big advice is to finish what you start. Never give up.  This is advice from the world’s richest author and the 9thbestselling author of all times!

At the close of the review, Jill presented Harry Potter bookmarks to all in attendance.

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