JK Rowling On Getting Published

Her fascinating path, from rags to riches.


She is known worldwide as one of the greatest children’s fiction writers that ever lived. JK Rowling has managed time and time again to capture the essence of a magical world we all would love to believe exists. And why not? Anything is possible.

Famous for her bestselling Harry Potter books, JK Rowling has captured and enchanted a truly worldwide audience. The books are sold in over 200 countries and 60 languages.

JK Rowling On Getting Published

We recently interviewed Mrs. Rowling on her life, her books and, of course, Harry Potter:

Urbanette Magazine: We’ve heard that with your first book, The Philosopher’s Stone, you had to use a typewriter to write the manuscript, is that true?

JK Rowling On Getting Published

JK Rowling: That’s true. The first manuscript I had to do on a typewriter and then had to re-type the entire chapter if I changed a paragraph. Then I had to re-type the whole book all over again because it wasn’t double spaced.

Urbanette: I couldn’t imagine doing that. It must’ve taken a lot of time and effort to get the book just right. When did you come up with the idea for Harry Potter?

JK Rowling: In 1990, my then boyfriend and I decided to get a flat and move to Manchester together. We would flat hunt every once in awhile. One weekend after flat hunting, I took the train back to London on my own and the idea for Harry Potter fell into my head.

I had been writing since I was six, but I had never been as excited about an idea as I was for this book. Coincidentally, I didn’t have a pen and was too shy to ask anyone for one on the train, which frustrated me at the time, but when I look back at it was the best thing for me. It gave me the full four hours on the train to think up all the ideas for the book.

A scrawny, little black haired, bespectacled boy became more and more of a wizard to me. He became more real. I think if I might have slowed down on the ideas and began to write them down. I would’ve stifled some of those ideas. I began to write ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ that very evening. Although, the first couple of pages look nothing like the finished product.

Urbanette: How long did it take you to complete the novel?

JK Rowling: After I began to write “Philosopher’s Stone,” something horrible had happened. My mother died. She was only forty-five. Nine months afterwards, I desperately wanted to get away from everything and took a job in Portugal as an English teacher at a language institute. I took my manuscript with me in hopes of working on it while I was there. My feelings about Harry Potter’s parents’ death became more real to me, and more emotional.

In my first week in Portugal, I wrote my favorite chapter in Philosopher’s Stone – The Mirror of Erised. I had hoped that I would’ve been done with the book by the time I was back from Portugal, but I came back with something better, my daughter, Jessica. The marriage didn’t work out, but the best thing I had ever had came into my life.

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Avatar of Angela Davis

Originally from Denver and now living in NYC, Angie has been writing since she was small. She lives in the Flatiron district with her partner Tanya and their mutt Sparky (always adopt!) In her spare time she loves to paint (mostly abstract) and talk to random people on the street to find out what's interesting to them.

Reader Discussion: 16 Comments

  1. Avatar of Dewmilk


    I LOVE HARRY POTTER!!!!!!! JK Rowling is awesome and so creative! She managed to write 223 pages of pure AWESOME on a typewriter!

    I’m an aspiring writer myself and I need a publisher. If you know any, please ask them to consider my books.

  2. Avatar of Ann Justine

    Ann Justine

    Harry Potter books are soooooooooo good! I like how fantasizing they are and thank you so much, J.K. Rowling. Your books are so wonderful and what you have been through transforms your books.

  3. Avatar of Georgia Neil

    Georgia Neil

    I was introduced to Harry Potter at a young age and went on a hunt looking for all the books I’m so glad there’s someone who can write the way J.K. Rowling can she made my childhood amazing and if I’m ever angry I always watch/read harry potter to calm myself back down as I get so intrigued by the story over and over again

  4. Avatar of Gwyn Pappert

    Gwyn Pappert

    I was first introduced to the first Harry Potter book by my 8 year old grand daughter after her teacher began reading the book to the class. I was hooked & that first book is still my favorite. All the characters are fresh, new & so easy to love. I have all the books & look forward to reading them to my 4 year old identical twin great grand daughters. I also have seen all the movies, but I’m a purist —always love the book better then the movie. I just got “The Cursed Child”. Not sure how I feel about it, have to read it again. Thank you for Harry Potter, it’s brought alot of joy.

  5. Avatar of Vernon H. Barnes

    Vernon H. Barnes

    Why are there first editions of Harry Potter from various publishers in various countries. Are they really a true first edition? I would like to collect true first editions of all books in the series.

  6. Avatar of Mandi


    Great interview! Very helpful for inspirational for aspiring writers!

  7. Avatar of Randie Cadiogan

    Randie Cadiogan

    J.K. Rowling is such an imaginative author. I must admit that she awakens childhood fantasies and imagination through her Harry Potter series 🙂

  8. Avatar of Auriane Desombre

    Her story is so wonderful–she overcame so much to reach success. And she has used her fame to become a positive role model and spokesperson for girls everywhere. Truly an inspiration!

  9. Avatar of Jen Spillane

    Jen Spillane

    I love that J.K. Rowling manages to write even when she doesn't have tons of time. It's all about making time for what's important to you : )

  10. Avatar of Francis Wods

    Francis Wods

    I own about 2 of her books, it’s a really good read. I also seen all the movies and I’m a complete fan. I also like to write and it’s pretty cool how ideas pop into your mind and then when you add pen +paper it comes to life.. It’s amazing how this idea during a long train ride became a top-selling series with movie adaptions. It just proves hat big things can have small beginnings.

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