It has been nearly two decades since Rowling first bestowed her magic upon the world, and for that alone she deserves the title and associated admiration of our Woman Crush Wednesday spot. The Harry Potter series has been everything from an inspiration to a safe haven for readers everywhere, reaching an audience undefined by demographics, and touching each of us in our own way. But it’s the journey behind the making of the story and the woman Rowling has since become that I would like to highlight.
Before Jo began writing what would become one of the greatest series in literary history, she lived a very modest life. She applied to Oxford but was declined acceptance and instead attended her local University of Exeter, where she was later described as a student who “did what was necessary to pass.” If that’s a nice way of saying “the bare minimum,” then same Jo!
Upon graduation, Jo went on to work for a non-profit organization called Amnesty International whose objective is to focus on human rights in countries where citizens are mistreated. She has spoken of the work she did there, telling stories about the letters she would receive from citizens who risked their lives to speak of the conditions their governments held them in. She considers her work with Amnesty International the most humbling and inspiring experience of her life. From that point on, charity and helping others has always been a priority in every aspect of Jo’s career.
As the narrative goes, Jo found herself on a delayed train one afternoon when the idea of a young boy attending a school of wizardry came to mind. In the 7 years that it took her to write that first book, she endured the loss of her mother, the birth of her first daughter, domestic violence from her husband at the time, a divorce, life as a single mother, poverty and depression. Rather than allowing these obstacles and setbacks to overcome her, Jo pushed through, even using some of them to her creative advantage.
Despite living what has since been described as a true “rags-to-riches” fairytale, J.K. Rowling has remained forever humble. She donated the proceeds from her collection of Harry Potter School Books to the charity Comic Relief, required Coca-Cola to donate 18mil to the Reading is Fundamental charity for their sponsorship of the films, has founded the children’s welfare charity Lumos and has gone down as the first person in history to lose their billionaire status due to the amount of money donated to charities.
Wherever I find myself dreaming about the future, I only hope to be as truly giving and caring as Ms. Rowling, who, despite her past struggles, has never forgotten where she once was, or the others that are still there.