J.K. Rowling, the writer of the legendary Harry Potter books, inherited a fortune from her family. But the money wasn’t all she inherited; she also inherited some great genes! J.K. has a characteristic laugh that can be heard throughout the world. We examine J.K.’s family tree and find out how much money she really made. We’ll also look at the financial position of the Harry Potter series and the rest of Rowling’s ventures.
J.K. Rowling’s Family
J.K. Rowling was born in Britain in the early 1950s and grew up in a working-class family. She didn’t reveal much information about her family in her books; the closest she came was in the description of the Dursleys, the despicable guardians who raised her. We know that J.K’s father was a manager at a chocolate factory, and that her mother worked as a secretary.
However, we do know that Rowling’s grandfather gambled away a large sum of money and that her grandmother, who died when she was young, had an estate that was broken up after her death. According to the writer, this happened because her grandmother “didn’t know what to do with all her money, so she gave it away.” So it seems that J.K. Rowling wasn’t born with a silver spoon in her mouth; instead, she grew up with the same grinding poverty that millions of other working-class children face every day. But despite this, Rowling has been able to turn her life around and become one of the most successful and influential writers of all time.
After dropping out of school at the age of 15, Rowling joined a secretarial college, eventually becoming a secretary. She decided that she wanted to become a writer, and in 1974 she took a chance and sent off a batch of her first novels to publishers. She got a few nibbles, but nothing much happened until 1982, when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was published. It became an immediate bestseller, and because it was a debut novel, many publishers gave it to budding authors to read and comment on. One of these was a man named Michael Cox, who read the book and became a great admirer of Rowling’s writing. He suggested that she try her hand at a play, and after completing it, she took a break from writing to develop her skills as an actress. But Harry Potter wasn’t her only success that year. She also penned, in just six weeks, a dark fantasy novel she called The Half-Blood Prince, which was published in September of that year. It became her second bestseller, behind only Sorcerer’s Stone. During this time, Rowling was constantly in demand as a speaker at book festivals and literary seminars, and after her impressive display at the World Book Festival in Amsterdam in May 1983, she was invited to become a RoW Scholar at the University of Wales, Swansea. She accepted the offer, and in September she began her studies there. In between writing her doctoral thesis and starting up her own literary agency, Rowling wrote the immensely popular and critically acclaimed Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. This book was published in April 1998, and became the third installment of the Harry Potter series. It was followed by Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in January 1999 and Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone in 2000. The final book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was published in July 2007. It was written in tandem with her longtime friend and literary agent, Peter Craig, and was met with spectacular success; the book spent 12 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and has since been translated into more than 30 languages.
RoW Agency Career
In between writing the Harry Potter books, Rowling worked as a literary agent. She founded her own agency in 1995 and became one of the most successful literary agents of all time. She famously represented authors such as Angela Merkel, Boris Becker, and Miuccia Prada. She also managed to sell the movie rights to Harry Potter to Miramax for a record-breaking $11 million. Even today, after all these years as an agent, Rowling’s list of clients is a who’s who of famous faces, from former first ladies to international politicians and cultural icons. Her success as an author and agent was so exceptional that in 2012, she was awarded the Medal of Freedom by the President of the United States. It’s widely believed that J.K. Rowling’s earnings as an author and agent will top $100 million before tax during her lifetime. In addition to her work as a writer and agent, Rowling is also a successful businesswoman. In 2011, Forbes magazine estimated her net worth at $165 million. In 2017, it was reported that she has nearly $27 million in the bank ($26.9 million to be precise). Not bad for a woman who began life in a tiny cottage with a single bookshelf.
If you’ve been following the career of J.K. Rowling, then you’ll know that she’s not averse to a fling with royalty. She’s been linked to some pretty prominent people. In 1992, she was secretly married to the actor Neil Gaiman. The couple kept the event a secret, and there were no legal ramifications from the marriage. They remained together for five years until Gaiman announced their separation in 1997. Shortly after the ceremony, the couple enjoyed a much-publicized honeymoon in Italy, which became the subject of a best-selling memoir, The Prince and the Actress. In the same year, she was also linked to the late King Bhumibol of Thailand. Rumor has it that the two were involved in a romantic relationship that lasted for several years. Sadly, the king passed away in 2016, and because of the strict royal succession laws in Thailand, J.K. had to wait until His Majesty’s 18-year-old son, Vajpayee, had completed his studies and assumed the throne in 2019. She was 75 years old at the time.
So how much money has J.K. Rowling actually made? It’s a tricky question to answer because she didn’t actually patent and sell the Harry Potter trademark. Instead, she licensed the mark and gave the authorial rights to a company called Pottermore, which was set up especially for the purpose of selling Harry Potter-related products. In 2012, it was revealed that Rowling had reaped an estimated $16.2 million in just book and movie royalties alone over the years. But that’s not all there is to her wealth. When she died in November 2016, her estate was valued at $18 million. There were also $5 million in life insurance policies paid out on her behalf as well as a $5.5 million taxable estate. She also owned a 25% stake in Pottermore, which was worth an estimated $9 million when she passed away. So basically, J.K. Rowling was a wealthy woman who happened to be born during a transitional period in England when a law exempting dynastic fortunes from estate tax was being implemented. The law meant that the vast majority of her wealth would be passed on to her heirs (her son, Jack, and his children). It’s a pity she didn’t patented the Harry Potter trademark and made some serious money from it, but she still managed to have a pretty successful life all-in-all.