J.K. Rowling Reminds Us That We All Have the Power to Imagine

J.K. Rowling, the creative mastermind behind the Harry Potter franchise, doesn’t mind the occasional train delay. In fact, she says the idea for the out-of-place young wizard literally dropped into her head -- fully formed -- one day in 1990 when she was stuck on a train halfway between Manchester and London. That day she didn’t have a pen -- or even an eyeliner in her purse -- to jot down her ideas. Good thing she had a great memory and followed through to create a brand-new world for readers of all ages to find inspiration, hope, magic, and characters to look up to. For that, we are honoring the talented author this Women's History Month.

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Her powerful female characters especially have resonated with young women, so it's no surprise that Rowling herself is just as fascinating.

Who She Is

J.K. Rowling is a British author known for creating the magical wizarding world of Harry Potter -- a children’s book series that has inspired blockbuster hit movies, video games, spin-off books, and even a theme park.

 

How She’s Shaping History

J.K. Rowling’s achievements in writing have reset the benchmark for children's book success. Publishers advised her to publish under the name "J.K." instead of Joanne in "a marketing ploy designed to make her work acceptable to boys, who actively choose not to read books by women." Her books quickly became international sensations that made kids look forward to reading again. After it was well-known that Rowling was a single mum in the UK, her books continued to fly off the shelves.

Each of the final four books of the Harry Potter series smashed the first-day sales record set by the prior book, culminating in the last book, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, which sold 11 million copies within its first day of release.

The series has been translated into 65 languages, inspiring readers the world over. 

There's also this wonderful tidbit that she has every right to be proud of: 

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Her Words to Live By

J.K. Rowling, giving a Harvard commencement address in 2008, gave advice to graduates that they (and we) will always carry: 

We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already. We have the power to imagine better.

Her characters are also poignant forces. Dumbledore (headmaster at Hogwarts), in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, famously says, “It is our choices ... that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

 
 

Why She Inspires Me

What I love about the Harry Potter series is that it’s an entirely fleshed-out world to immerse yourself in; it's full of mystery, wonder, and magic. But it’s deeper than a mere a child’s tale. It’s darkened by much that clouds our real world: prejudice, poverty, cowardice, betrayal, and very real violence. It’s the way Rowling guides us as readers to seek out the good -- justice, hope, and, most of all, love -- that really gives the series a satisfying and uplifting takeaway.

Rowling herself is an inspiration for her tenacity in the face of adversity. Despite her personal struggles, Rowling's stories champion women who exemplify loyalty, wisdom, and courage. Her strong-willed, talented, and curious heroine Hermione made being a know-it-all suddenly okay. Minerva McGonagall was the boldest badass to raise a wand in protection of students at the Battle of Hogwarts. Mrs. Weasley, who basically becomes Harry's adopted mom, is the sweet, openhearted, and fiercely protective mom I aspire to be. 

And of course, as a creative person, I dream that one day my work will touch even just one person as much as the work of J.K. Rowling has touched my life.


Image via Marco Secchi/Corbis

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