After starting to write this piece I have started re-reading the series. Hopefully this also prompts you to dip back into the world of broomsticks and magic.
JK Rowling gives aspiring authors and young children hope.
I grew up with the Harry Potter series, ordering my copies in advance of the later books as they were released. Harry Potter made reading fashionable – they got people talking about books! After people were finished reading them, they often then got a lot of young people into fantasy and other young fiction.
Her books are beautifully complex yet entirely understandable. They have this flow and pace that lets you binge on a book in complete bliss and look up a few hours later feeling warm and like you were temporarily a part of another world.
Many of you would already know that initially JK Rowling struggled to get her first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, picked up by a publisher. That seems entirely laughable in hindsight, but this is so often the way! Whilst it could have happened to anyone, it has long been a known fact that female authors struggle harder than men to get their books published. JK Rowling is a gender neutral name and this is entirely intentional.
This aside, the ability of this woman is phenomenal. Apparently she was struck by the idea for the book on a train from Manchester to London in 1990 (source). The idea that this could grow into an incredible seven book series that has lived on and on and on, been transformed into movies and theme parks(!) and will continue into the future.
JK Rowling would be a billionaire but has donated millions of her dollars to charity, reportedly 16% of her net worth (source). She has her own trust – Volant Charitable Trust. The tag on their website is:
“Helping to alleviate social deprivation across Scotland, particularly supporting women, children and young people at risk”.
Volant provides grants to charities and projects that are working towards reducing the above risk in Scotland. It is such a straight forward, targeted commitment to help those who were in situations similar to her own prior to the success of Harry Potter and it makes my heart sing!
I absolutely adore everything about JK Rowling and the entire world of Harry Potter. I am so grateful I grew up in the time of this series and this escape from every day life. I have so much joy in seeing how the success of a person hasn’t led to a complete shift of their values and has continued to give kids engage with reading and fantasy.
When you’re a kid, it is hard to articulate how you feel. It is hard to get across how serious the problems you’re facing really feel to you and it is easy to feel like your problems are trivialised. Realistically, many of the problems you have are indeed small-scale. But you have that pointed out to you by a parent or teacher it stings!
However, if you read Harry Potter you are suddenly gently reminded that there is this (fictional) kid out there. His parents died tragically. His responsibilities include saving the world. His challenges include learning to use magic, to learn a whole world that he is completely unfamiliar with.
It is very very easy to forget about your own worries and be transported into this world. To engage with characters like Hermione, who made me feel so joyful that she could use her smarts to get herself and her friends out of their problems. To see that despite bullying she could still be happy. And, what’s more, to feel happy that there was this character who was awe-inspiring in how she shoves her head into books and absorbs every word. My spirit-animal, albeit one I’m aspiring to.
JK Rowling is an inspiration and someone to inspire us to keep writing, to keep creating and to keep thinking outside of our own worlds. She has bound together millions of children in a shared love for one story line, connecting them to their parents in going to see the movies together, allowing their imaginations to grow and be challenged. I am grateful to JK Rowling and I would love to hear your thoughts and positive memories of the series.
I’m also keen to hear which of her other books (written under male pen name Robert Galbraith) should be given a go.
Thank you to the following sites: