J.K. Rowling wrote her first book at the age of six – a story about a rabbit, called "Rabbit".
Jo wanted to be a writer from an early age. She wrote her first book at the age of six – a story about a rabbit, called 'Rabbit'. At just eleven, she wrote her first novel – about seven cursed diamonds and the people who owned them.
Jo studied at Exeter University, where she read so widely outside her French and Classics syllabus that she clocked up a fine of £50 for overdue books at the university library. Her knowledge of Classics would one day come in handy for creating the spells in the Harry Potter series, some of which are based on Latin.
After her degree, she moved to London and worked in a series of jobs, including one as a researcher at Amnesty International. "Therein my little office I read hastily scribbled letters smuggled out of totalitarian regimes by men and women who were risking imprisonment to inform the outside world of what was happening to them." She said later. "My small participation in that process was one of the most humbling and inspiring experiences of my life."
Jo conceived the idea of Harry Potter in 1990 while sitting on a delayed train from Manchester to London King's Cross. Over the next five years, she began to map out all seven books of the series. She wrote mostly in longhand and gradually built up a mass of notes, many of which were scribbled on odd scraps of paper.
Taking her notes with her, she moved to northern Portugal to teach English as a foreign language, married Jorge Arantes in 1992, and had a daughter, Jessica, in 1993. When the marriage ended later that year, she returned to the UK to live in Edinburgh, with Jessica and a suitcase containing the first three chapters of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
In Edinburgh, Jo trained as a teacher and began teaching in the city's schools, but she continued to write in every spare moment.
Having completed the full manuscript, she sent the first three chapters to a number of literary agents, one of whom wrote back asking to see the rest of it. She says it was "the best letter I had ever received in my life."
The book was first published by Bloomsbury Children's Books in June 1997, under the name J.K. Rowling.
The "K" stands for Kathleen, her paternal grandmother's name. It was added at her publisher's request, who thought a book by an obviously female author might not appeal to the target audience of young boys.
Her first novel was published in the US by Scholastic under a different title (again at the publisher's request), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, in 1998. Six further titles followed in the Harry Potter series, each achieving record-breaking success.