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The Unauthorized Biography of J.K Rowling (Author of Harry Potter)
“You’ll never make any money out of children’s books, Jo,” – Barry Cunningham to JK Rowling
It was the summer of 1996 and Barry, head of Bloomsbury publishing, along with literary agent Christopher Little had just concluded their first ever meeting with Joanne. Barry recalled later that Joanne was nervous, with a shyness about her personality, but an obvious confidence and dedication to her newly finished manuscript. Jo – as she is known to friends and family – would later recall Barry’s parting words as one of her favorite stories.
It goes without saying that no one could have predicted the astounding phenomenon that was, and still is, Harry Potter. As of 2016, this franchise is worth an estimated $24.8 billion, and it continues to grow and expand. Meanwhile, at the time of their meeting 20 years ago, the Bloomsbury publishing house had just acquired Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for £1,500 ($1,910). And Joanne could not have been more thrilled. She was going to be a published author. A dream she had held since childhood was coming true. This was success.
Twelve years after that first meeting, a characteristically nervous Jo stood in front of the 2008 graduating class of Harvard University to deliver their commencement address. As per usual when addressing a group of young people, the beloved author was intimately candid. The topic of the speech was one of her favorites – failure. She confessed that when she was the age of the new graduates gathered before her, that failure was her Boggart – thing she feared most in the world. Seven years later, Joanne was in the midst of this worst nightmare come to life. She was newly divorced, jobless and penniless, and the sole caregiver for an infant daughter. “By every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew,” she said…
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