J K Rowling’s Harry Potter turns 20
The story of the seven novels revolves around a young wizard and his friends. The books were adapted into eight movies and translated into as many as 79 languages in 200 countries and have sold more than 450 million copies worldwide.
The Harry Potter saga began 20 years ago on June 26, 1997 when British author J K Rowling finally published the first volume of the novel after years of rejection.
Titled “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” was the first of seven novels whose story revolves around a young wizard and his two friends at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
The seven books published between 1997 and 2007 dazzled children and their parents alike. The novel was adapted into eight feature films.
The saga also spawned a play, theme parks in the United States and Japan, a sightseeing tour in Scotland and a permanent exhibition at London’s Warner Bros Studios.
The books were translated into as many as 79 languages in 200 countries and have sold more than 450 million copies worldwide.
J K Rowling
Joanne Kathleen Rowling was born into a modest family in Chipping Sodbury, western England, on July 31, 1965.
J K Rowling signing copies of her book “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” at Carnegie Hall in New York City, October 19, 2007. File photo: AFP
She studied French and Classics at the University of Exeter before going to teach English in Portugal, where she began to chronicle the adventures of Harry Potter.
Rowling married Portuguese television journalist Jorge Arantesa in 1992, giving birth to their daughter Jessica in 1993.
The couple divorced in 1995 and the author moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, where she continued crafting Harry Potter on a modest oak chair.
Such was the magic of her own story that the chair sold in a New York auction last year for $394,000.
Named Britain’s best living writer in 2006, she has accrued a fortune of £650 million (743 million euros), according to the Sunday Times rich list published in May 2017.
Rowling remarried in 2001, to Scottish doctor Neil Murray, and the couple have a boy and a girl.
The first print run of “the Philosopher’s Stone” produced 1,000 copies — all now highly-sought after collectors items — and earned Rowling a £1,500 contract.
The movies have netted $7.2 billion (6.4 billion euros) worldwide, the books $7.7 billion, and merchandise $7.3 billion.
The Harry Potter studios in Leavesden, north of London, invites fans to immerse themselves in Potter-world at a permanent exhibition, welcoming 6,000 visitors a day.
There are also theme parks created by Universal Studio in Orlando, Florida, Hollywood and Osaka, Japan.
VisitScotland, the Scotland Tourist Board, has set up a four-day guided tour from Edinburgh to the Highlands via the Glenfinnan or Edinburgh Viaduct, which feature in the saga.