From writing a play that premiered in London, England, to seeing her first screenplay hit movie screens worldwide, author J.K. Rowling had a big year in 2016. Rowling is the best-selling author of the Harry Potter series. Since the release of the first Potter adventure, in 1997, Rowling’s books have sold more than 400 million copies in more than 200 countries. In 2001, Rowling was awarded the Hugo Award for Best Novel and Queen Elizabeth II appointed her an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. Rowling was also awarded honorary degrees from Harvard University and Dartmouth College in the U.S. In addition to being an author, Rowling is also the founder of Lumos, a charity dedicated to helping children in need. She was a TIME Magazine Person of the Year nominee in 2007.
Rowling was born in Yates, England, in 1965. She studied at Exeter University and earned a degree in French and classics. After graduating, Rowling worked for Amnesty International, an organization focused on protecting human rights. During a train trip that was delayed at King’s Cross Station, in London, Rowling had an idea for a story about a boy wizard. She outlined the story on the train and continued to work on it until eventually it became the first Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Rowling’s books inspired eight blockbuster films and a theme park that opened in 2010 at Universal Studios in Florida. In June 2016, she brought Harry’s adventures to the stage. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a two-part play, premiered in London’s West End. It takes place 19 years after the last Harry Potter book and follows Harry’s youngest son. In July, Rowling published the play’s script in book form. It sold 2 million copies in two days.
In November, Rowling made her screenwriting debut with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The film, which is a Harry Potter prequel of sorts, takes place in New York City during the 1920s. It focuses on Newt Scamander, a wizard interested in magical creatures. On its first day, the film earned $75 million, making it one of the top-earning movies of the year. Rowling recently announced that there will be four more films in the Fantastic Beasts series.
For her accomplishments as a writer and as the creator of one of the most beloved stories of all time, J.K. Rowling is a nominee for TFK’s 2016 Person of the Year.
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