A brief history
Joanne Rowling had a comfortable childhood as the daughter of a Rolls-Royce engineer. After graduating, she worked for Amnesty International before moving to Portugal to teach English.
After her first marriage ended, she relocated to Scotland with her baby daughter. While completing the first Harry Potter book, she survived on £69 a week in state benefits and a £4,000 loan from a friend. J K Rowling had to show perseverance. It took nine consecutive rejections before she finally got a publishing deal. She apparently received just £2,500 for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. The Scottish Arts Council gave her an £8,000 grant to allow her to keep writing. Since then she has gone from strength to strength.
How much has she made from the Harry Potter phenomenon?
Rowling currently holds the Guinness World Record for having the highest annual earnings for a children's author. She made over £34 million in 2006. The Times Rich List 2010, estimates that she has a £518m fortune, which is easy to believe, considering that ten million copies of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince were sold on its first day of release, earning her £20m in just 24 hours!
What does JK Rowling do with her money?
JK Rowling appears to be quite frugal compared to many celebrities. She is known to be uneasy about her immense wealth. Details of her investments are very sparce, but we do know that she owns a number of properties:
In 2001, Rowling purchased a luxurious nineteenth century estate house, Killiechassie House,on the banks of the River Tay near Aberfeldy in Perth and Kinross, Scotland. She also owns a home in Merchiston, Edinburgh and a £4.5 million ($9 million) Georgian house in Kensington, West London.
In 2007 she did splash out on a £76,000-a-week holiday in The Hamptons. She also spends around £150,000 a year on an ex-SAS bodyguard.
Rowling has been quoted as saying "I think you have a moral responsibility when you've been given far more than you need, to do wise things with it and give intelligently." She has followed through on this belief and has given a great deal of her fortune to charity:
In 2000, Rowling established the Volant Charitable Trust, which uses its annual budget of £5.1 million to combat poverty and social inequality. The fund also gives to organisations that aid children, one parent families, and multiple sclerosis research. These are causes that are close to her heart, as she was once a single parent herself and her mother suffered from Multiple Sclerosis.
In 2001, the UK fundraiser Comic Relief asked three bestselling British authors, cookery writer Delia Smith, Bridget Jones creator Helen Fielding and J K Rowling to submit booklets related to their most famous works for publication. Rowling's two booklets, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages are ostensibly facsimiles of books found in the Hogwarts library.
Since going on sale in March 2001, the books have raised £15.7 million ($30 million) for the fund. The £10.8 million ($20 million) they have raised outside the UK has been channeled into a newly created International Fund for Children and Young People in Crisis.
JK Rowling is clearly a woman that truly believes that there is more to wealth than just money. She has become a billionaire by doing something that she loves. She uses her money to make real changes in society.
What can we learn from Joanne Kathleen Rowling?
Whilst all the other women featured in our famous women and money section have many of the same traits as JK Rowling, we believe that she is able to teach you more than just about financial investments. The lesson we can learn from JK Rowling is that if you invest in your self belief, then you stand a greater chance of success.
Pursue that course, regardless of personal hardship and sacrifice. If you believe in anything enough to live a hand to mouth existence in order to pursue that, you are equally as able to succeed as this woman.
To be rejected and to continue to focus on her writing, led JK Rowling to becoming one of the world's wealthiest women. But initially many people would not have been able to see her vision.
Don't give up on an idea or yourself. Keep in mind that women like JK Rowling have made the journey to success based on a belief in what they were doing.