J K Rowling

July 23, 2007
Rini Parekh

J.K. Rowling, popular British author of the Harry Potter Series, was shot to death in London on Saturday. She was 41.
Fans mourned the untimely death of Rowling after a fan, furious about the ending of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, killed Rowling while she was walking in Piccadilly Circus. She died in St. Mary’s Hospital two hours later.

Her Harry Potter novels captivated the imaginations of readers worldwide. Her novels have been translated in more than 30 languages. She has received numerous awards, including the Children’s Book Award and the Carnegie Medal. Her first six novels sold more than 325 million copies, and made her the first billionaire writer.

Rowling did not always enjoy such success. She divorced her husband, Jorge Arantes, in 1993. As an unemployed single mother, Rowling struggled to finish her first novel. Often times, she scribbled chapters by hand in an Edinburgh café. Rowling and her daughter, Jessica, had to live on $150 of states benefits per week. Still, she didn’t give up hope.

“Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve,” Rowling said in an interview in 2004.
She struggled to find a publisher for two years, and had to work as a French teacher to support her daughter. In 1996, she finally succeeded— Bloomsbury published Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Rowling sold the book for only $4,000. Shortly after, the Scholastic Press bought the American rights to the Harry Potter for $100,000. As her series’ popularity exploded, Rowling gave up teaching and took up writing full-time.

She used her wealth in philanthropic pursuits. She was the president of the One Parent Family, a non-profit organization that aids struggling single parents. She donated $20 million to the International Fund for Children and Young People in Crisis. Rowling also supported Multiple Sclerosis research and raised awareness of the disease.

“Not only is JK Rowling a talented writer, but she is a wonderful human being,” said her father, “ She has so much compassion for others.”

She is survived by her second husband, Neil Michael Murray, and three children.

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