Joanne Rowling was born on July 31, 1965, better known by her pen name J. K. Rowling, is a British author, philanthropist, film producer, television producer, and screenwriter. She is best known for writing the Harry Potter fantasy series, which has won multiple awards and sold more than 500 million copies, becoming the best-selling book series in history. The books are the basis of a popular film series, over which Rowling had overall approval on the scripts and was a producer on the final films. She also writes crime fiction under the pen name Robert Galbraith.
Rowling was working as a researcher and bilingual secretary for Amnesty International in 1990 when she conceived the idea for the Harry Potter series while on a delayed train from Manchester to London. 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 was released in 2007. Since then, Rowling has written several books for adult readers: The Casual Vacancy (2012) and under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith the crime fiction Corcoran Strike series. In 2020, her "political fairytale" for children, The Ichabod, was released in instalments in an online version.
As a child, Rowling attended St Michael's Primary School, a school founded by abolitionist William Wilberforce and education reformer Hannah More. Her headmaster at St Michael's, Alfred Dunn, has been suggested as the inspiration for the Harry Potter headmaster Albus Dumbledore. She attended secondary school at Weyden School and College, where her mother worked in the science department. Steve Eddy, her first secondary school English teacher, remembers her as "not exceptional" but "one of a group of girls who were bright, and quite good at English". Rowling took A-levels in English, French and German, achieving two As and was head girl.
Seven years after graduating from university, Rowling saw herself as a failure. Her marriage had failed, and she was jobless with a dependent child, but she described her failure as "liberating" and allowing her to focus on writing. During this period, she was diagnosed with clinical depression and contemplated suicide. Her depression inspired the characters known as Dementors; soul-sucking creatures introduced in the third book. Rowling signed up for welfare benefits, describing her economic status as being "poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless."