United Kingdom

J.K. Rowling

Renowned author of the Harry Potter series of books, Joanne Kathleen Rowling was born in Chipping Sodbury, England, in 1965.  While Ms. Rowling says she knew from the age of six that she wanted to be a writer, her parents suggested she become a bilingual secretary, and with this goal in mind she attended Exeter University, where she studied French.

When she was 26, she moved to Portugal to teach English, which she did in the afternoons and evenings, so that she could write in the mornings.  Ms. Rowling then moved to Edinburgh with her young daughter.  As a single mother, she was unable to afford a computer or a typewriter, and wrote the first drafts of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in longhand while sitting at a café.

With a fortune earned from the phenomenal success of her books, Ms. Rowling decided that she would use her money and celebrity status for philanthropic purposes, and supports a myriad of organizations focused on illiteracy, poverty, multiple sclerosis, and children’s welfare.  She became the President of the National Council for One-Parent Families, and established the Volant Charitable Trust, which helps women and children combat poverty and social inequality.  She contributed a large sum towards the creation of a new Centre for Regenerative Medicine at Edinburgh University, and has written three books for charity which raised almost $30 million for various charities.  Rather than simply signing checks, Ms. Rowling prefers to become involved in the charities and the public events that increase awareness of their activities.

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