One of the biggest names in the literary world, you might know her because of what is likely the highlight of your childhood– the colossal wonder that is the Harry Potter series. Hugely successful, she has sold hundreds of millions of copies of the series, which was eventually adapted into a blockbuster film franchise. But success didn’t come easy. Rowling has faced a plethora of hurdles and rocky roads.
“It was only when I came to rest it hit me what a complete mess I had made of my life. That hit me quite hard. We were as skint as you can be without being homeless and at that point I was definitely clinically depressed.”
Rowling worked as an English teacher in Portugal during her brief marriage to television journalist Jorge Arantes. She found herself struggling with depression when her marriage broke apart. The marriage was short and catastrophic, and at that point, Rowling’s life was an ugly, volatile mess. She was desperate to take on a fresh start with her young daughter, Jessica. For Rowling, this truly proved to be the ultimate test. She was on the verge of losing herself.
“[That time] was characterized by a numbness, a coldness and an inability to believe you will feel happy again. All the color drained out of life.”
While struggling to support Jessica and herself on welfare, Rowling worked on a book, the idea for which had reportedly occurred to her while she was traveling on a train from Manchester to London in 1990.
J. K. Rowling did not start writing her first book with any specific goal in mind. She wanted to write, so she wrote. She saw writing as her catharsis and took to it with full dedication. She wasn’t afraid of rejection, which is, however, what she eventually went on to face. After being turned down by several publishers across Britain, Rowling’s work was finally absorbed, and put out for the world to read.
“I just thought I want to write so I wrote the book. What was the worst that could happen? It could get turned down by every publisher in Britain. Big deal.”
However, the sudden and complete transformation of her life, coupled with a ‘tsunami’ of begging letters from charities and members of the public, left her feeling desperate to help but overwhelmed.
‘‘Everything changed so rapidly, so strangely. I knew no one who’d ever been in the public eye. I didn’t know anyone – anyone – to whom I could turn and say, “What do you do?” So it was incredibly disorientating.’‘
As well as being bombarded with requests for help, Miss Rowling found herself bogged down in business deals and plans to expand her fortune even further, which she said she found ‘a real bore’.
She underwent therapy, which she had turned to previously when at ‘rock bottom’ while writing the first Harry Potter book.
‘‘I had to do it again when my life was changing so suddenly – and it really helped,’ she said. ‘I’m a big fan of it, it helped me a lot.’‘
Despite her current fortune, she has no desire to stop working as she believes it sets a good example to her children - she now has another son and daughter with second husband, anaesthetist Neil Murray.
Following an incredibly tough but rewarding journey, J. K. Rowling picked herself up from the direst of situations; a time when it was too tempting to just give in to the numbness.
J. K. Rowling is now the 13th wealthiest woman in Britain– but more importantly, she is someone who rules millions of hearts: someone whose name is forever engraved in the golden pages of literary history.
Watch her inspiring message here: