J. K. Rowling

J. K. Rowling

4.5 2
by Connie Ann Kirk

The unprecedented popularity of the Harry Potter books took the publishing world by storm and captured the imaginations of readers around the world. This unofficial biographical study of J. K. Rowling invites fans and critics alike to take a close look at the person behind the phenomenon, the facts of her life as a writer, and the extraordinary success of an

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The unprecedented popularity of the Harry Potter books took the publishing world by storm and captured the imaginations of readers around the world. This unofficial biographical study of J. K. Rowling invites fans and critics alike to take a close look at the person behind the phenomenon, the facts of her life as a writer, and the extraordinary success of an ordinary woman. This detailed book explores both the critical acclaim and the controversies surrounding Rowling's books and the characters, who seem to have found a life of their own. Chapters take the reader from Rowling's early childhood in England through her school years, friendships, and early influences, tracing her family life, her travels and personal relationships, and the development of her career as a writer.

The Harry Potter books are carefully considered against the backdrop of the fantasy genre and are also situated within the broader framework of popular culture. A bibliography provides reviews, critical articles, biographical sources, and related Web site information. A timeline highlights the events of Rowling's life and career. Other appendices cite the many awards her books have received around the world. Also included are lists of her special literary and humanitarian interests.

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Editorial Reviews

J. K. Rowling and J. R. R. Tolkien are undoubtedly two of the most recognizable literary names in the young adult world today. These biographies are part of the Greenwood Biographies series developed in response to demand from high schools and public libraries. They are designed for high school students who need accessible, grade-appropriate materials for school assignments. The information presented is quite readable and of a reasonable length. Rowling's biography opens with a brief chapter defining her current status in the celebrity world. Subsequent chapters cover her early life and family, her school years, and her early career as a teacher. A long chapter is devoted to Harry Potter, and the volume concludes with controversies and criticisms surrounding the author's life and work. In the conclusion, Kirk states that it is too soon to predict the staying power of Rowling's works. Appendixes include a timeline; awards; Rowling's personal readings, which not surprisingly include Tolkien; organizations important to Rowling; and addresses. An extensive bibliography completes the volume. Four photographs are included. The biography of Tolkien opens with his time line and a chapter delineating his earliest life in South Africa and Birmingham, England. Jones includes insightful material on Victorian England to help the reader know more about Tolkien's roots. Several chapters cover his early schooling, Oxford, and his career as a young academic. The relationship of Tolkien's love of language and his writing is made clear, and his prominence as a scholar is noted. Both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are well covered. Notes conclude each chapter; an appendix contains an exhaustive listingof Tolkien's works. Well researched and written, these biographies will serve both the interested reader and the student looking for report material. Among other series entries are profiles of Al Capone, Colin Powell, and Margaret Mead. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2003, Greenwood, 160p.; Index. Photos. Biblio. Chronology. Appendix., PLB. Ages 12 to 18.
—Roxy Ekstrom
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-In a preface, Kirk discusses her sources; she obtained every biography in print, watched or read transcripts of every available live or taped interview, and searched the Internet. Data is presented in seven chapters, five appendixes, and a bibliography that sorts resources into several sections. Although there is information about the author herself, the majority of the content is devoted to analyzing her writing. Chapter one likens Rowling to Harry Potter in that they both went from rags to riches. Her work is compared to a number of genres and series in both children's and adult literature. Throughout, Kirk follows up facts with speculations as to their meaning or significance and/or possible outcomes that may occur. For example, after describing Hermione in Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, Kirk says, "Only time will tell if any similarities to Shakespeare's Hermione will pop up for her namesake in the Harry Potter novels." One chapter compares Rowling's books to other fantasy novels and discusses the banning of her books for endorsing witchcraft, the occult, and/or devil worship. The scholarly writing style and evaluative content make this volume useful to high school students studying Rowling and her work.-Kathleen Simonetta, Indian Trails Public Library District, Wheeling, IL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
Publication date:
Greenwood Biographies Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

CONNIE ANN KIRK is an author and independent scholar specializing in American and children's literature and the poet, Emily Dickinson. Her books from Greenwood Press include: J.K. Rowling: A Biography, Emily Dickinson: A Biography, Mark Twain: A Biography, Sylvia Plath: A Biography, and The Companion to American Children's Picture Books.

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J. K. Rowling 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
BussRo More than 1 year ago
The book J.K. Rowling by Connie Ann Kirk brings a lot of information about Rowling’s life and her career as a successful writer. We have read a lot of information about Rowling in newspapers or magazines but this book gives a new perspective on the author of the Harry Potter phenomenon. Connie Kirk brings an insight look at Rowling’s background that journalist have not captured. This book tells us about Rowling as a young child and the experience that had helped to create a magic world and characters that we know from the Harry Potter series. Kirk also describes Rowling as a woman who believed in writing about Harry Potter and who did not let anything to stop her even when the odds were stacked against her.  In my opinion, Kirk did an incredible job in searching and using the information about J.K. Rowling. The book is well written and easy to read. It gives us new information throughout the entire book but never too much at the same time. Connie Kirk also included her own opinion and perspective, which helps us to understand some parts of it and also makes it easier to read. This is also the first biography about J.K. Rowling to avoid the sentimentality of the “poor, single mother” image, which makes the book different compared to others of the same kind.  I believe that it is very hard to write a biography about people who are still alive because things always change and new important highlights originate. I would say that the weakest part of the book is its age because the book was published in 2003, at the time when there were only first three Harry Potter books and Rowling’s bright career just started.  While reading the biography I did not notice any other weaknesses and I enjoyed the reading a lot. I am a big fan of the Harry Potter series so getting to know the author of this incredible work was more than entertaining to me. I think that J.K. Rowling is an amazing author but also a woman who just did not give up and believed in what she was doing. Hard work and talent have brought Rowling successful career that is, in my opinion, well deserved.  I would highly recommend this book to all the fans of Harry Potter because I believe that this book would give them a new perspective not only about J.K. Rowling but also about the series itself.  I would also recommend this book to people who are interested in reading biographies because Connie Kirk did a great job and showed that even though it is hard to write a biography it can be done well. The fact that Kirk is a writer of books, not a journalist, adds to the book’s fresh approach and deeper insights. 
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book brings together in one place a lot of the information about Rowling's life that you've read in bits and pieces online or in newspapers and magazines, or have heard about in television or radio interviews. As a fellow writer herself, Kirk brings an important insight to her look at Rowling's background that journalists have not captured. She describes her not only as a girl growing up in England in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s but also as a woman who believed in writing Harry Potter's story even when the odds were stacked against her by a world culture that does not value the middle class attempting to work in the arts. This is the first biography to avoid the sentimentality of the 'poor, single mother' image and consider Rowling as a temporarily unemployed, college-educated woman who kept her head, worked as a teacher, and took care of her daughter while at the same time remaining dedicated to her writing and particularly to Harry Potter's story. If Harry feels like a beloved character to the millions who read his story, that is because the author 'met' him, nurtured him, and believed in him first and infused him with love and courage. This book considers the places and times where and when the author grew up and lived (such as the Forest of Dean in the West Country of England and the 1960s and 70s) and how that context and what was also going on in the world at that time may have directly influenced Rowling's sensibilities, humanitarianism, and work. This strategy in the book continues as important moments in Rowling's life are described parallel to world events until, remarkably, they intersect around September 11th, 2001, when the first Harry Potter film is released that fall to a public much in need of a bit of fantasy. Family, teachers, and friends and their influence on the writer are also considered throughout. Harry's story is told from the first time Rowling met him on the delayed train through the 2nd film and the fifth novel. Controversies Rowling has faced in terms of literary criticism, lawsuits, and book burnings are also addressed fully and fairly. The appendices are many and add much--they include a timeline of Rowling's life and achievements, awards each novel has won, a listing of J. K. Rowling's reading, charitable organizations that are important to her, and addresses for the author both in the U.S. and U.K.. The bibliography is extensive, including all of Rowling's works (British and American publications; articles, too), biographical sources, reading and education guides, responses from young people, criticism and reviews, related articles, and websites. There is a helpful index as well. The biography is easy to read and informative and attempts to place Rowling's work in context with world events, literature, and popular culture. The book would have benefited from more careful editing, but the fresh contexts and updated information provided in the biography will cause most readers to overlook this. I highly recommend the book to Harry Potter fans, readers, students, educators, and those interested in writers' biographies. Kirk donates from the proceeds of the book to J. K. Rowling's preferred charity, Comic Relief, which suggests that she shares in Rowling's humanitarian interests. Perhaps the fact that she is a writer of books rather than a journalist adds to the book's fresh approach and deeper, more valuable insights.