First person to become a billionaire through writing books
"Joanne Rowling, CH, OBE, FRSL, FRCPE, is a British novelist, screenwriter, and producer who is best known for writing the Harry Potter fantasy series. The books have won multiple awards, and sold more than 400 million copies. They have become the best-selling book series in history and been the basis for a series of films, over which Rowling had overall approval on the scripts and was a producer on the final films in the series.
Born in Yate, Gloucestershire, England, Rowling was working as a researcher and bilingual secretary for Amnesty International when she conceived the idea for the Harry Potter series while on a delayed train from Manchester to London in 1990. The seven-year period that followed saw the death of her mother, birth of her first child, divorce from her first husband and relative poverty until the first novel in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, was published in 1997. There were six sequels, of which the last, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was released in 2007. Since then, Rowling has written four books for adult readers: The Casual Vacancy (2012) and—under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith—the crime fiction novels The Cuckoo's Calling (2013), The Silkworm (2014) and Career of Evil (2015).
Rowling has lived a "rags to riches" life story, in which she progressed from living on state benefits to being the world's first billionaire author. However, she lost her billionaire status from giving away much of her earnings to charity. Even though she is no longer a billionaire, she is still one of the wealthiest people in the world. She is the United Kingdom's best-selling living author, with sales in excess of £238M. The 2016 Sunday Times Rich List estimated Rowling's fortune at £600 million, ranking her as the joint 197th richest person in the UK. Time magazine named her as a runner-up for its 2007 Person of the Year, noting the social, moral, and political inspiration she has given her fans. In October 2010, Rowling was named the "Most Influential Woman in Britain" by leading magazine editors. She has supported charities including Comic Relief, One Parent Families, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain and then launched her own charity: Lumos.
In June 1997, Bloomsbury published Philosopher's Stone with an initial print run of 1,000 copies, 500 of which were distributed to libraries. Today, such copies are valued between £16,000 and £25,000. Five months later, the book won its first award, a Nestlé Smarties Book Prize. In February, the novel won the British Book Award for Children's Book of the Year, and later, the Children's Book Award. In early 1998, an auction was held in the United States for the rights to publish the novel, and was won by Scholastic Inc., for US$105,000. Rowling said that she "nearly died" when she heard the news. In October 1998, Scholastic published Philosopher's Stone in the US under the title of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, a change Rowling says she now regrets and would have fought if she had been in a better position at the time. Rowling moved from her flat with the money from the Scholastic sale, into 19 Hazelbank Terrace in Edinburgh.
Its sequel, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, was published in July 1998 and again Rowling won the Smarties Prize. In December 1999, the third novel, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, won the Smarties Prize, making Rowling the first person to win the award three times running. She later withdrew the fourth Harry Potter novel from contention to allow other books a fair chance. In January 2000, Prisoner of Azkaban won the inaugural Whitbread Children's Book of the Year award, though it lost the Book of the Year prize to Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf.
The fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, was released simultaneously in the UK and the US on 8 July 2000 and broke sales records in both countries. 372,775 copies of the book were sold in its first day in the UK, almost equalling the number Prisoner of Azkaban sold during its first year. In the US, the book sold three million copies in its first 48 hours, smashing all records. Rowling said that she had had a crisis while writing the novel and had to rewrite one chapter many times to fix a problem with the plot. Rowling was named Author of the Year in the 2000 British Book Awards…
The sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, was released on 16 July 2005. It too broke all sales records, selling nine million copies in its first 24 hours of release. In 2006, Half-Blood Prince received the Book of the Year prize at the British Book Awards.
The title of the seventh and final Harry Potter book was announced on 21 December 2006 as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows… Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released on 21 July 2007 (0:01 BST) and broke its predecessor's record as the fastest-selling book of all time. It sold 11 million copies in the first day of release in the United Kingdom and United States…
Harry Potter is now a global brand worth an estimated US$15 billion, and the last four Harry Potter books have consecutively set records as the fastest-selling books in history. The series, totalling 4,195 pages, has been translated, in whole or in part, into 65 languages…
In 2004, Forbes named Rowling as the first person to become a U.S.-dollar billionaire by writing books, the second-richest female entertainer and the 1,062nd richest person in the world. Rowling disputed the calculations and said she had plenty of money, but was not a billionaire. The 2016 Sunday Times Rich List estimated Rowling's fortune at £600 million, ranking her as the joint 197th richest person in the UK. In 2012, Forbes removed Rowling from their rich list, claiming that her US$160 million in charitable donations and the high tax rate in the UK meant she was no longer a billionaire. In February 2013 she was assessed as the 13th most powerful woman in the United Kingdom by Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4.
In 2001, Rowling purchased a 19th-century estate house, Killiechassie House, on the banks of the River Tay, near Aberfeldy, in Perth and Kinross. Rowling also owns a £4.5 million Georgian house in Kensington, west London, on a street with 24-hour security.
In 2017, Rowling was worth an estimated £650 million according to the Sunday Times Rich List. She was named the most highly paid author in the world with earnings of £72 million ($95 million) a year by Forbes magazine in 2017…
In 2000, Rowling established the Volant Charitable Trust, which uses its annual budget of £5.1 million to combat poverty and social inequality. The fund also gives to organisations that aid children, one parent families, and multiple sclerosis research…
Rowling, once a single parent, is now president of the charity Gingerbread (originally One Parent Families), having become their first Ambassador in 2000. Rowling collaborated with Sarah Brown to write a book of children's stories to aid One Parent Families.
In 2001, the UK anti-poverty fundraiser Comic Relief asked three best-selling British authors – cookery writer and TV presenter Delia Smith, Bridget Jones creator Helen Fielding, and Rowling – to submit booklets related to their most famous works for publication. Rowling's two booklets, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages, are ostensibly facsimiles of books found in the Hogwarts library. Since going on sale in March 2001, the books have raised £15.7 million for the fund. The £10.8 million they have raised outside the UK have been channelled into a newly created International Fund for Children and Young People in Crisis. In 2002 Rowling contributed a foreword to Magic, an anthology of fiction published by Bloomsbury Publishing, helping to raise money for the National Council for One Parent Families.
In 2005, Rowling and MEP Emma Nicholson founded the Children's High Level Group (now Lumos). In January 2006, Rowling went to Bucharest to highlight the use of caged beds in mental institutions for children. To further support the CHLG, Rowling auctioned one of seven handwritten and illustrated copies of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a series of fairy tales referred to in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The book was purchased for £1.95 million by on-line bookseller Amazon.com on 13 December 2007, becoming the most expensive modern book ever sold at auction. Rowling gave away the remaining six copies to those who have a close connection with the Harry Potter books. In 2008, Rowling agreed to publish the book with the proceeds going to Lumos. On 1 June 2010 (International Children's Day), Lumos launched an annual initiative – Light a Birthday Candle for Lumos. In November 2013, Rowling handed over all earnings from the sale of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, totalling nearly £19 million.
In July 2012, Rowling was featured at the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony in London where she read a few lines from J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan as part of a tribute to Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. An inflatable representation of Lord Voldemort and other children's literary characters accompanied her reading.
Rowling has contributed money and support for research and treatment of multiple sclerosis, from which her mother suffered before her death in 1990. In 2006, Rowling contributed a substantial sum toward the creation of a new Centre for Regenerative Medicine at Edinburgh University, later named the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic. In 2010 she donated a further £10 million to the centre…
In May 2008, bookseller Waterstones asked Rowling and 12 other writers (Sebastian Faulks, Doris Lessing, Lisa Appignanesi, Margaret Atwood, Lauren Child, Richard Ford, Neil Gaiman, Nick Hornby, Michael Rosen, Axel Scheffler, Tom Stoppard and Irvine Welsh) to compose a short piece of their own choosing on a single A5 card, which would then be sold at auction in aid of the charities Dyslexia Action and English PEN. Rowling's contribution was an 800-word Harry Potter prequel that concerns Harry's father, James Potter, and godfather, Sirius Black, and takes place three years before Harry was born. The cards were collated and sold for charity in book form in August 2008…
In May 2007, Rowling pledged a donation reported as over £250,000 to a reward fund started by the tabloid News of the World for the safe return of a young British girl, Madeleine McCann, who disappeared in Portugal… After her exposure as the true author of The Cuckoo's Calling led a massive increase in sales, Rowling announced she would donate all her royalties to the Army Benevolent Fund, claiming she had always intended to, but never expected the book to be a bestseller.
Rowling is a member of both English PEN and Scottish PEN. She was one of 50 authors to contribute to First Editions, Second Thoughts, a charity auction for English PEN. Each author hand annotated a first edition copy of one of their books: In Rowling's case, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. The book was the highest selling lot of the event and fetched £150,000 ($228,600).
Rowling is a supporter of The Shannon Trust, which runs the Toe by Toe Reading Plan and the Shannon Reading Plan in prisons across Britain, helping and giving tutoring to prisoners who cannot read.
Rowling has received honorary degrees from St Andrews University, the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University, the University of Exeter which she attended, the University of Aberdeen and Harvard University, for whom she spoke at the 2008 commencement ceremony. In 2009 Rowling was made a Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. In 2011 Rowling became an honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh." (1)