Born in 1965, Joanne Kathleen Rowling graduated from Exeter University and, in 1990, moved to Portugal to teach English. She moved to Edinburgh three years later, following a divorce, bringing her daughter Jessica with her. As Rowling worked to support herself and her daughter, she began writing what would ultimately become the best-selling Harry Potter novels "on scraps of paper at a local cafï¿½" (as the back flap of the first book's dust jacket states). Rowling has stated in interviews that Harry emerged nearly fully formed into her imagination, and she can still produce thick notebooks full of her initial fragments and her plans for the entire seven-book series. Despite the richness of the magical world she had conjured for Harry and his companions, Rowling found difficulty selling the novel to a publisher. Finally, literary agent Christopher Little brought the book to the attention of Bloomsbury, who published it in a small run in 1997. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, however, quickly achieved amazing success in the United Kingdom. The first American edition (with the title changed to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone) appeared in 1998 from Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic. According to a Scholastic web site, at the time the most recent book in the series was released, "In America, there are nearly 80 million books in print, and each title has been on The New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. The fifth title, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, has already broken records with its first print run of 6.8 million copies and a second print run of an additional 1.7 million copies, a figure unprecedented for any book" (http://www.scholastic.com/harrypotter/author/index.htm). The series of novels is being adapted to the screen-high-grossing adaptations of the first three books have been released as of the summer of 2004-and has spawned a host of related merchandising.
Rowling has announced that the penultimate book in the series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, will be released in July 2005. In her private life, Rowling has re-married and has a second child.